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: