Q: What is the "venture philanthropy" model?
A: Social Venture Partners looks into the community to identify needs and promising solutions in the same way that a venture capitalist would try to find good ideas and entrepreneurship in emerging companies. Venture capitalists not only find a company and make an investment of dollars, but also assess the company's overall needs and infuse that company with the knowledge, skills, and contacts of its Partners. Their time and expertise are as important as money in helping a new business move toward profitability.
Similarly, SDSVP invests in sustainability and organizational capacity of nonprofit organizations by taking a long-term approach, providing professional expertise and working together towards annual objectives and measurable outcomes.
Q: How does Social Venture Partners differ from a typical foundation?
A: Unlike most private foundations that are funded by a single person or family, SDSVP is a giving organization comprised of individuals who hope to achieve a greater impact together than they could individually. Partners make investment decisions and create in-depth, multi-year partnerships with nonprofit organizations in San Diego County.
In addition to working with nonprofits, SDSVP provides seminars, workshops, and resources to its Partners to help them further develop their personal giving and community engagement objectives. This "curriculum" of Partner Education provides applicable information about philanthropic planning, community involvement, social enterprise, and important local and regional issues.
Q: How does SDSVP decide on what investment focus areas to fund?
A: Each year, SDSVP conducts a survey of our Partnership to determine our funding focus area for the next investment cycle. Since 2001, SDSVP has invested in organizations serving children and youth, education, the environment, the elderly, and hunger and homelessness.
Q: How does Social Venture Partners interact with local foundations and nonprofit organizations?
A: SDSVP benefits greatly from partnering with, and learning from, a variety of people and organizations around San Diego. During our investment process, SDSVP hosts experts from the nonprofit community to discuss the issues that we fund. SDSVP also collaborates with other foundations to learn about evaluating grants, making effective site visits, and being a valuable volunteer.
Q: How is Social Venture Partners funded year after year?
A:Each Partner contributes a minimum of $5,000 per year. Funds are pooled and invested in a socially responsible fund. Many Partners will contribute additional funds due to the highly leveraged investment.
Q: Are there other organizations and foundations following this venture capital approach?
A: A few foundations around the country are taking a "venture philanthropy" approach and focusing on long-term funding, organizational capacity building, and mezzanine/scale-up funding. Some of the more notable ones that have served as role models for SVP are Ashoka and the Robin Hood Foundation. In recent years, other similar organizations have emerged around the U.S., including The Entrepreneurs Foundation, New Schools, and New Profit, Inc.
Q: Are there SVPs in other cities?
A: Yes, engaged community members in other cities across North America, Canada, India, and Japan have chosen to adopt SVP's model. We share the same name and organizational model along with a set of ten core principles but each SVP is a separate 501(c)3 organization and operates locally. SDSVP enjoys the benefits of belonging to Social Venture Partners International, where participating organizations share best practices.