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Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Together We Can Do So Much: SVP Global Summit 2018

by Jennie Arbogash, for SVP Boulder County

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

The incredible group of people involved with Social Venture Partners Boulder County (SVPBC) knows from experience that we are stronger together. When nonprofits and SVP Partners work side by side, we create effective collaborative solutions to our community’s critical opportunities and challenges.

Each year the gift of engaging with a team feels even more powerful as the international network of SVP affiliates gathers for the Global Summit. Hosted by Social Venture Partners International,* this year’s Summit took place in Chicago from April 26-28 and was attended by almost 250 representatives from most of the 40+ SVP affiliates in eight countries. Six Partners and three staff from Boulder County were among those soaking up good learning, good connections, and good food. Prominent themes included equity, social justice, and privilege; community-wide impact; capacity building; and impact investing.

The beauty of the SVP network lies in both our similarities and differences. Every affiliate engages donor volunteers to both learn and step up. Every affiliate works within its local community to strengthen organizations and leaders. Every affiliate is committed to positive impact.

At the same time, we are working in extremely different communities. In Bangalore, workforce development is a paramount issue. In Boulder County, affordable housing ranks high. In Minneapolis, there are countless organizations providing capacity-building services to nonprofits. In Boulder County, few peers are supporting nonprofits and no one is duplicating SVP’s services.

I left the Summit full of joy and questions. Joy from connecting with other caring, committed learners. Questions such as, how do we make what we learned in Chicago relevant to Boulder County’s unique environment and small size? How do we challenge ourselves to do better every day? What does equity mean to SVP Boulder County? How do we share our learnings? How do we make sure we do no harm while trying to do good?

What I know is that these questions can best be answered together. Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring these conversations to SVP’s Partner meeting, new blog posts, committee meetings, strategic planning, and more. In the meantime, here are takeaways from three of Boulder County’s attendees:

“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.” Nia Wassink, SVPBC Partner

“The summit was an amazing assembler and emitter of energy. The convening of such philanthropic and thoughtful people was an honor of which to be a part. At the same time, during the entirety of the Summit, I was cringing on the inside. We as SVP affiliates have an awesome amount of power whether realized or not. And, with that power we can do good and we can do harm. It is my hope we continue to use that power deliberately, recognizing and addressing our gaps in knowledge and understanding of the world’s cultures and systems and recognizing how our actions directly affect and potentially challenge them.”  Mary Swanson, SVPBC Senior Program Officer

“While it can be hard to pause from all of the important work of SVP Boulder County, I always find it valuable to meet with my colleagues from other affiliates at the annual Summit. They provide me with a fresh perspective and new ideas on how to improve the Partner experience. A few of the ideas I am excited about from this Summit are increased use of video conferencing, creating resource teams, and updating our New Partner orientation.” Shannon Sackmann, SVPBC Chief Relationship Officer


* Created by a loosely connected group of SVP organizations in the early 2000s, Social Venture Partners International provides network leadership and support by strengthening, connecting, and amplifying the impact of SVP through our affiliates and Partners. Learn more about the Global Summit and search resources here.

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