By Nia Wassink, Partner Member, for SVP Boulder County
This is the second in a series of blogs about the SVP Global Summit and its lessons for SVP Boulder County. Read the first post here and stay tuned for more.
I originally saw the SVP Global Summit as an opportunity to learn about how other SVP affiliates function, hear about innovative research and theories about the social sector, while networking with colleagues for whom I have incredible respect. What actually transpired was so much more impactful than I could have ever anticipated.
It was inspiring to hear about innovations in the work that we do, from SVP Vancouver’s shared services model to the way that SV2 in Silicon Valley is engaging in impact investing. What hit me at my core, though, and will continue to inspire me to be better, were the discussions about racism and racial equity work within the SVP context.
In our work as partners with SVP, the sessions impressed upon me our need for constant diligence on this front. If our philanthropy continues to perpetuate issues of racism, even in subtle ways, how much good are we doing? Alternatively, if we were to really address the systemic issues that perpetuate racism, how much MORE good could we do?
One speaker touched on the phenomenon where major philanthropic giving is funneled into organizations founded by “Ivy League do-gooders” instead of to community-based organizations that are created by and for the people whom they serve. There is great power in philanthropy. Shifting this power to those in the margins can start to address issues of inequity.
Another speaker challenged those of us in positions of power to consider, “If I’m comfortable with this situation/process/discussion, who is not?” Some SVP affiliates have taken this to heart in looking at their investee application process, implemented equity training for partners, and analyzed processes that create an expert/learner dynamic when what we need is a culture of mutual learning.
I look forward to seeing how we can embody and take this work forward in Boulder County and encourage Partner members to take tangible steps, such as:
- Be a student of equity by exploring resources like readings from the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Summit.
- Figure out one way you can direct volunteer or financial support to a community-based social good effort.
- Hold a conversation with three people about what equity means to them and you.
- Ask the tough questions about SVP’s processes, culture, and values related to equity and help us do better.
Finally, I welcome nonprofits working with SVP to share their thoughts on how we can be better allies for equity.