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Social Venture Partners: Finalist's Statement

Social Capitalists

Social Venture Partners

Finalist's Statement

Social Venture Partners is an international network of accomplished individuals who combine the power of business and the passion of philanthropy. Partners bring collective expertise and resources to promising nonprofits, collaborating with them to impact communities.

In 1997, while rapid advances in technology and ecommerce were creating new wealth in the world economy, Paul Brainerd and a handful of his colleagues in Seattle were thinking of a way to bring their good fortunes - along with their know-how, connections and skills - to the nonprofit sector in Seattle, while simultaneously providing opportunities for personal development and engagement as philanthropists. After exploring emerging innovations in philanthropy, Brainerd (founder and president of Aldus Corporation, creators of Pagemaker) and company launched Social Venture Partners (SVP). Eight years later, SVP has grown into a network of 22 affiliates in the U.S. and Canada, which have collectively contributed over $17 million and hundreds of thousands of hours to build the capacity of local nonprofit organizations and of emerging high-capacity philanthropists and civic leaders.

Social Venture Partners is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to addressing social issues in the community. Donors, called partners, commit to contributing a minimum amount of $5,000 annually for at least two years. Additionally, a majority of partners choose to donate their time, expertise, and rolodexes to advance SVP's dual mission of educating individuals to be well-informed, effective, and engaged philanthropists while investing time, expertise, and money in innovative nonprofits to collaboratively strengthen their organizations.

SVP's model of fusing its donor education and capacity building activities is truly unique and marks its greatest contribution to the field of philanthropy. Both sides of the mission fuel the other, creating the upward spiral that's at the heart of an SVP community.

SVP conducts its work in small groups of partners who research issues, make investment decisions, organize strategic volunteer efforts for nonprofit grantees and conduct partner education experiences to reinforce the hands-on learning. Educational opportunities allow partners to interact with experts on a broad range of topics, from socially responsible investing to identifying personal philanthropic values to specific social issues like education, hunger or the environment. By informing and educating its partnership, SVP hopes to increase the "philanthropic pie," involving more people in philanthropy at higher levels.

Initial research indicates that the collaborative effects of SVP in a community are greater than the sum of its parts. As a result of their participation in SVP, partners are giving more and - more importantly - they're giving in a more strategic fashion. Along with finances, nearly half of partners have increased the amount of time they're donating as well. Investees, in turn, have indicated that while cash grants are always welcome and appreciated, it's SVPs' contributions of time and expertise that have been invaluable.

The relevance of SVP's model and mission is underscored by the fact that 80% of all charitable contributions comes from individuals rather than from large foundations. Governments at all levels are cutting back funding for the nonprofit sector, especially health and human services. With the predicted $41 trillion wealth transfer coming over the next 50 years as baby boomers pass on their fortunes to their families, SVP's impact on philanthropy becomes more vital than ever.

Social Venture Partners exists in the following communities:

Boston MA
Boulder CO
Calgary AB
Charlotte NC
Chicago IL
Cleveland OH
Dallas TX
Denver CO
Houston TX
Los Angeles CA
Minneapolis MN
New Mexico
Phoenix AZ
Pittsburgh PA
Portland OR
Providence RI
San Diego CA
San Francisco CA
Seattle WA
St Louis MO
Vancouver BC
Wilmington DE

To find out more about SVP, visit or email

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