For nearly 30 years Vicky Johns helped brands create better connections with customers through QRC, her qualitative research company. After years of exploring unmet needs and purchase drivers for the consumer brand sector, she increasingly found herself looking for a different sense of purpose. Says Vicky, “You get to a point in your career where you’ve built a successful business, and begin to consider how you can apply that experience in way that serves your local community and causes you believe in – to make an impact in a different way.”
Hearing friends, and current Social Venture Partners Boulder County Partners, Debbie Malden and Michael Donovan talk about the nonprofit work they do through SVP, Vicky was intrigued. She’d applied her corporate know-how on pro-bono projects for nonprofits who’d approached her over the years, and was curious about more formally bridging her brand development skills in this way.
Joining Michael and Debbie at a quarterly SVP evening social event, Vicky learned first-hand how SVP works and the impact the model has on both participant Partners and Investee nonprofits. “It wasn’t about the money, but the guidance and intangibles of the relationship,” she notes, “That’s the true contribution SVP makes.” Soon after, Vicky signed on to be a Partner.
Investee work, professional development, and Partner relationships have since made up her time with the organization. SVP is a different sort of community for Vicky – “We operate like a professional business. You work with a project team of purpose-driven peers sharing and applying skills, working towards a common goal.”
Vicky’s hands-on work with the Boulder Institute for Psychotherapy and Research (or BIPR) has helped the organization find their way to, among other things, a new name – InReach. Whether helping think more strategically about their brand, or applying her qualitative research skills in a different way, Vicky’s contributions have provided structure, built bridges and aided InReach staff and board members co-create their new direction together.
In addition to Investee efforts, Vicky’s participation in SVP’s professional development offerings like BOARDS WITH BRAINS and PARTNER BOOTCAMP has been, “beyond what I realized would be a benefit of joining SVP.” Attending has offered Vicky a grounding in the nonprofit experiences of others, the challenges they’ve faced, insights into dynamics at play, and has generally helped illuminate the complexities of the nonprofit conversation.
From this perspective SVP has been motivating for Vicky, who’s enjoyed learning and understanding what makes a successful nonprofit. As Vicky reflects, “There are so many great nonprofits out there, but unless they’re well-run, they’re not going to work. Looking at the big picture, moving around the puzzle pieces and problem solving in this way helps me play a part” and better secure their success…and that, is a great sense of purpose.