« Quote of the Day (Nov. 17, 2007) | Main | Quote of the Day (Nov. 18, 2007) »

SVP Seattle Reflects on Its First Ten Years

November 18, 2007

It hardly seems possible, but SVP Seattle is celebrating its tenth anniversary. SVP was the inspiration of former Aldus Corporation President Paul Brainerd, who, in 1997, with the help of Seattle business leaders Scott Oki, Ida Cole, Bill Neukom, and Doug and Maggie Walker

founded a new type of philanthropic organization, calling it Social Venture Partners. Through collaboration they believed they could make a bigger impact. The donors –- Partners -– would not only contribute financially, but would offer their time and expertise to build long-term partnerships with nonprofit organizations -– Investees.

Today, according to the SVP Seattle site, "more than 420 Partners contribute their resources and passion to over twenty King County organizations. Learning from each other and the groups they support, Partners have provided over 75,000 hours of volunteer consulting and have granted in excess of $10 million to advance promising nonprofits." Their accomplishments have inspired others to do the same, and there are now twenty-four SVP affiliates in the U.S., Canada, and Japan.

SVP Seattle has always been the hub of the network, and under the leadership of Paul Shoemaker the organization has worked hard to disseminate lessons from its capacity-building work to the broader philanthropic community. In that spirit, Paul and his colleagues have distilled those lessons in a strategic planning document, Past & Future: Reflection's on SVP Seattle's Past Ten Years and Vision for the Future (62 pages, 6.2 mb, PDF). The eight lessons, all of which are fleshed out in greater detail in the report (along with six key principles underlying SVP's work), are:

  1. Knowing what good looks like and how to get there.
  2. Financial management is more than an audit.
  3. People with pocketbooks don't necessarily make good boards.
  4. Good leaders lead. They don't walk away and leave.
  5. Program evaluation is hard if you do not have the capacity to measure results.
  6. Give general operating (or unrestricted) support.
  7. Flexibility is crucial.
  8. Share best practices and wisdom.

In conjunction with the release of the report, Paul has also started a series, "Ten Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist," at the SVP blog. As Paul writes in his initial post, "Every mistake articulated here has been made by all of us. The intent is not to preach a one-size-fits-all formula or to be arrogant in our viewpoints. Our sincere hope is that it will encourage reflection and stimulate feedback, criticism, and conversation."

We wish Paul and his colleagues continued success and encourage you to read/download the report and to visit the blog.

-- Mitch Nauffts

« Previous post    Next post »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

Subscribe to PhilanTopic


Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Filter posts