In 2015, nine major philanthropies recognized a significant gap in the field: Few national funders were working to address the upstream causes of homelessness and the ramifications of unstable housing on Black and Brown communities. These funders had the bold idea to form a new pooled fund, Funders for Housing and Opportunity (FHO), dedicated to addressing the cross-sector, systemic causes of housing injustice.

Many of FHO’s founders were part of the growing movement toward funder collaboratives as a way to have more efficiency, impact, and engagement with peers and practitioners. A 2021 Bridgespan Group survey of 100 funder collaboratives found that nearly three-fourths had been formed since 2010, and nearly half since 2015. The amount of money given through philanthropic collaboration has also increased: It now tops $2 billion annually. A growing body of research has been examining the key ingredients of funder collaboratives, how they are used, how they add value—and what happens when they don’t.

Although FHO is still a work in progress, operating as a collaborative positions us to tackle two kinds of problems effectively: those that require an intentional focus on dismantling systemic racism (and really, what problem doesn’t fall into that category?) and issues that require us to work across sectors and systems. Housing justice is our mission and a prime example of the kind of work that hits fully on those two characteristics. We share some early lessons and thoughts here about the future of funder collaboratives—offered from a place of humility, given our collaborative’s newness—to help the field learn in real time from this evolving and promising form of philanthropy.

Read the full article about funder collaboratives by Jeanne Fekade-Sellassie and Jennifer Angarita at Stanford Social Innovation Review.