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

Using Wisdom, Compassion, and Courage to End Homelessness

An excerpt of Funders Together Executive Director Anne Miskey’s welcoming remarks at the Inaugural Funders Institute.

The following blog post is an excerpt of Funders Together Executive Director Anne Miskey’s welcoming remarks at the Inaugural Funders Institute on the morning of July 22nd, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Anne Miskey addresses over 75 funders and partners at the Inaugural Funders Institute Pre-Conference Session in Washington D.C. on July 22nd, 2013.

Anne Miskey addresses over 75 funders and partners at the Inaugural Funders Institute Pre-Conference Session in Washington D.C. on July 22nd, 2013.

As I look out into the room this morning I am reminded of the words of a famous philosopher who said that the 3 most important qualities of human beings were wisdom, compassion and courage.

Again, looking around the room, I think it very obvious that we have a tremendous amount of wisdom.  We have the wisdom of those who do research, who look at data and outcomes and we have the wisdom of those of you working, day to day, in your communities to end homelessness.  I look out and I see funders and their partners from the Pacific Northwest who are doing incredible things around family and youth homelessness.  I look at the folks from Houston, Texas, who have done the same. We must take care to use wisdom – the combined wisdom of people working in communities across the country, and in individuals and organizations who study what works – and what doesn’t.

If we are going to move forward we must continue to use wisdom and knowledge, research and data, best practices and evidence in everything we do.  But equally as important is that we share that wisdom with one another, and this is what Funders Together to End Homelessness is all about–connecting funders’ knowledge.  We believe philanthropy plays a vital role – and that by sharing our collective wisdom, we will make a difference.

But it takes more than wisdom–it also takes compassion.  Compassion is something those of us in our sector do not lack; yet sometimes our compassion can be misguided.  We’ve all seen examples of things that were well-intentioned, and done out of kindness and compassion, but that were ultimately not helpful.  We need to remember that compassion must always be tempered with both justice and with wisdom.   Again, it is by seeing the examples of others, and by sharing what we do and what we know, that we can demonstrate that true compassion is not something which simply makes us feel good for today, but which provides justice and opportunity for people.

I have no doubt that we have wisdom, and we certainly have compassion, but I also believe that this will only get us so far if we do not have a third quality: that of courage. The work we do is not easy – each of us faces obstacles on a day-to-day basis, whether it be government cutbacks and sequestration, local politics and policies and public opinion, or lack of data lack of resources.  It is a tough job we have set out to do.  But we must continue, we must show courage in the face of the obstacles, and we must keep moving forward.  The good news is that we don’t have to do this alone.  We can connect with one another–not just to share ideas and stories and research, but to offer support.

Funders Together is here to help connect you and to support you in your work as funders, as grantmakers, as convenors  – to connect the wisdom in philanthropy – and the wisdom of our partners. Through that connection, we can harness the potential that is out there, that exists in philanthropy, and we can truly empower change.  We can share our wisdom, share examples of how to show true compassion that is tempered with justice and wisdom and we can be courageous. With wisdom, compassion and courage, we can end homelessness–together.

anne_miskey.jpgAs Executive Director of Funders Together, Anne brings years of expertise in both the corporate and not-for-profit sector. She is passionate about promoting the philanthropic community’s catalytic role in ending homelessness, working with government to create public-private partnerships, and advocating for funding and policies which end, rather than manage, homelessness. Find her at @FTEHAM.

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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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