Keys to High Performance: Funders and Providers

written by Kim Walker
May 1, 2014

This series, “Keys to High Performance,” focuses on improving performance and maintaining high performance in homelessness assistance systems. This blog series is as a warm-up to a paper and toolkit that the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building will release on the same topic.


As I noted in our first blog post in this series, communities that make progress ending homelessness have a performance infrastructure that helps them attain and maintain high performance. Their infrastructure includes the five keys we will be discussing in this series:

  1. Shared community goals and a shared vision for ending homelessness;
  2. Clear outcome measures that define high performance;
  3. A strong governance structure that provides direction and feedback on performance;
  4. Funders that provide resources to high performing programs and promising pilot projects; and
  5. Providers that buy into the goal of ending homelessness.

Today we’ll focus on numbers four and five on this list: funders and providers. Providers, especially those that are changing their programs to improve their performance, need funders that will be supportive if they decide to change their business models to better meet the community’s goals, vision, and outcomes. Funders can further support successful performance improvement efforts by viewing each provider as an integral part of a community-wide effort to end homelessness. Additionally, funders can look for ways to support promising new pilots that introduce best practices into the community.

The buy-in of front-line staff is also essential to ensure that new practices intended to improve outcomes are actually implemented. Governance staff, funders, and local and state government should work together to support providers in creating a system vision and shaping the programs and services necessary to carry it out. Creating a provider-inclusive, high performing environment also includes rewarding adoption of best practices, supporting providers in mastering accurate and consistent data entry, and providing resources and capacity support to organizations making changes in their programs to improve their outcomes.