Looking for a different kind of funding relationship?
SVP partners with nonprofits ready to take their vital work to the next level. We provide funding and skilled volunteering to high potential, early-mid stage nonprofits working to close the opportunity gap in the greater Boston community.
SVP Grantees receive multi-year support, beginning with $25,000 of general operating funds and hundreds of hours of skilled volunteer time in the first year. Engagements are renewable annually for a total of up to three years and $75,000.
What We Bring to the Table
• Our Partners, skilled volunteers who will help build your organization’s capacity in the areas that will help you reach your full potential.
• General operating support, allocated to the areas you determine will best support your organizational development.
• Tools to assess your organizational capacity – aka the strength of all those behind the scenes systems: human resources, financial management, communications, board governance, etc.
• A commitment to working in partnership.
What We’ll Ask of You
• A willingness to share openly what’s holding your organization back. Once the cards are on the table, we can get to work – together.
• Flexibility and openness to working with our Partners who have busy schedules and varied professional backgrounds.
• A commitment to talking to us when something’s not working for you. That may be uncomfortable, but our best results come from honest relationships.
• An annual work plan and progress report that outlines the capacity building areas on which you are focused, how they relate to your mission, and what you have achieved at the end of each year.
We ask a lot of our Grantees, but they would say it’s worth every ounce of effort.
Interested? Here’s How to Apply.
#1 Check Your Eligibility
Is your organization:
• A registered 501(c)3 or have an appropriate fiscal sponsor or agent?
• Headquartered in Boston or adjacent towns?
• Focused on helping close the opportunity gap in Greater Boston with solutions that address inequitable access to resources and opportunity?
• Operating an annual budget of $300,000 – $3 million?
• Aligned with our Spring 2018 Grant Guidelines?
#2 Come to Our Information Session: February 7, 2018
Meet SVP Partners and staff members at our Information Session >>
#3 Submit a Letter of Interest: Deadline February 26, 2018
Spring 2018 applications are now closed. Stay tuned for details about our Fall 2018 cycle.
#4 Submit a Full Proposal: April 2018
You may be one of several organizations asked to submit a full proposal and references.
#5 Host a Site Visit: Early May 2018
If you are invited to submit a full proposal, members of SVP’s Investment Committee will visit your organization. This allows us to get to know your staff and board and ask questions we might have. It also gives you a chance to ask questions of us. Additionally, after the site visit, your Executive Director will have a one-on-one meeting with SVP Partners skilled in leadership development.
#6 Receive Grant and Share Your Story with Our Partners: June 2018
Decisions will be announced in early June.
What makes for a strong and compelling Letter of Interest (LOI) submission?
There’s no right or wrong LOI. The LOIs we receive are as different as the organizations that submit them. Our LOI template, however, has specific recommendations as to how and what to include. The best LOIs are ones that tell the organization’s story by including the information we request.
Are there certain factors that distinguish SVP Grantees?
All the nonprofits we invest in have the potential for transformative growth and community impact. While every relationship with our Grantees is unique, there are common themes to successful SVP engagements. Additionally, SVP Grantees demonstrate the following:
- Growth Potential: at an inflection point to build their organizational foundation for deeper impact, whether that’s by carrying out programs more effectively, expanding current programs significantly, and/or spreading a model that has proven results into other communities
- Impact Potential: have the potential to make significant impact in addressing the opportunity gap in Greater Boston and committed to performance and outcomes measurement
- Committed Leadership: led by individuals with a deep desire and ability to guide their organizations in achieving significant growth and impact
- Internal Capacity: have sufficient human and financial resources to design and implement capacity building projects while maintaining quality programming
Do most SVP Grantees have a strategic plan in place when they are selected?
Not necessarily, though an organization does need to have a vision of where it is going. An organization with a strategic plan in place can likely articulate its needs clearly and the areas where we can best provide support. Or an organization might request our help in refreshing an existing plan.
Does SVP consider only Boston-based nonprofits for its grants?
Our Grantees focus on providing service in Boston and surrounding towns and cities (with sometimes a larger footprint or with the potential expansion into new communities). In order for an SVP engagement to be successful, however, our Grantees’ senior staff must be headquartered in Greater Boston.
What does SVP mean that an organization needs to “demonstrate a commitment to capacity building”?
We are looking for organizations that have already “turned inward” through the hard work of organizational development. We look for evidence that an organization has spent money, time, and/or staff resources on capacity building. For example, has an organization hired a consultant to support marketing and communications, implemented a new system, hired staff to support program expansion, etc.?
How many years of program need to be in place for SVP to consider an organization?
Rather than look at the number of years an organization has been in operation, we instead consider if an organization has established clients (and knows how to find and engage them) and program metrics that demonstrate or are beginning to demonstrate impact.
How does SVP support organizations throughout the grant application process?
Each finalist is assigned a Liaison, a member of our Investment Committee who serves as the primary contact between the nonprofit Executive Director and SVP.
How many grants will SVP make in this grant cycle?
Typically we receive 20+ LOIs each grant cycle, which we will narrow down to 3-4 finalists. Finalists will submit full proposals and have a site visit and a meeting with 1-2 Partners skilled in leadership development. From the finalist pool, we will select one Grantee.
Does SVP provide feedback to finalists that are not chosen?
We commit to meeting with the Executive Director of any finalists not selected. We provide information from our Investment Committee on each organization’s strengths and gaps as well as overall recommendations.
If my organization isn’t chosen, either as a finalist or as a Grantee, should I apply again?
Growth-oriented small to mid-sized nonprofits change so rapidly that an organization can look very different from one year to the next. Several of our current and former Grantees applied and were not selected during previous grant cycles. If your organization meets our criteria for a strong Grantee candidate, we would certainly encourage you to apply again.
What does SVP’s pro bono consulting look like?
Our Partners volunteer an average of 450 hours annually to each of our Grantees. The engagement typically begins with a 6-month intensive organizational assessment followed by work planning, done in collaboration with each Grantee. Each Grantee has a Lead Partner, the go-to person at SVP who project manages the engagement. During most years, we will work with a Grantee on 2-3 large capacity building projects, with anywhere from 10-25 Partners volunteering to support those projects.
When does most of the work happen?
We plan all of our capacity building work in concert with our Grantees; the majority of the work occurs during normal business hours.