A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Power in Numbers: Building a Funder Network


At the 2018 Funder Forum, attendees explored what it took to build a successful funder network and how a network can be beneficial in advancing the movement to prevent and end homelessness.

Rosa Benitez, from Weingart Foundation and Funders Together Los Angeles, and Jean Sazevich, from Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative, discussed the basics of starting a network or collaborative, the benefits of working in a network setting, and what it means to have a successful network. Those who participated in the conversation walked away with ideas to take back to their community about what it takes to start as successful funder network:

Networking building is relationship building! As with any relationship, it takes time and energy to do effectively. Identify who would both contribute to and benefit from the group. Be prepared to have a lot of one-on-one conversations with each network member.

Encourage and facilitate members to build strong relationships within the network. The more secure they feel in relationships built through the network, the more they are likely to contribute and work collaboratively. One simple way to do this: Funders Together Los Angeles started each meeting with an icebreaker question that had nothing to do with work to help participants in the room to see each other humans and allies.

Define the purpose of the network or collaborative. Is this network built strictly for learning purposes or will it involve coordinated funding as a group? It can also be a combination of both! Make sure all members of the network understand and support the network’s purpose.  

Establish a common goal and identify an entity that has content knowledge. A content expert can contribute to the goal by establishing better understanding of the issues at hand and how the network’s members can best address them as a group.

Stress the importance of equality within the network. No matter how much money or other resources a member contributes, everyone should have an equal voice and vote.

Want to dig a little deeper on funder networks? Check out these resources:

Building A Funder Network 101
Home For Good Collaborative

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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