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.