A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

After 26 Years, What I’ve Learned About Making Catalytic Impact

It is with tremendous gratitude that I come to the end of my 26 years as Executive Director of the Butler Family Fund. It’s been my joy and privilege to work with extraordinary, courageous, innovative, and inspiring advocates and organizations. This constellation of brave people and groups has done so much to make our world a better place.

Martha Toll

Exponent Philanthropy has generously asked me what I’ve learned over these years. There’s too much to say in a short blog, but I’ve tried to capture some headlines below.

The Butler Family Fund is a small-staffed foundation focused on preventing and ending homelessness, on criminal justice, and the intersection of the two. We fund nationally and support local groups as well.

We operate within the following principles:
  • Racial equity is imperative for a just society
  • Long-term change requires investments in leaders and organizations in historically underrepresented communities
  • Organizing at the local level is necessary to make change sustainable
  • Investing in systems change and advocacy creates lasting impact
  • National policy investments leverage impact
  • Collaborating with funding partners is essential

One area where the Butler Family Fund has made catalytic impact — our partnership with federal agencies to better support people experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable jobseekers. With the U.S. Departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, we co-sponsored a summit on integrating employment and housing strategies to prevent and end homelessness.

As I look back on 26 years, I see that the following mindsets have guided our practice, and may be helpful to other donors, trustees, and staff at leanly staffed foundations…

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