SVP is bold and bright—and we look a little bit different in each community. We invite you to get engaged in a personal way as you explore this website by selecting your own colors!
How SVP came to be
The year was 1997. Paul Brainerd had just sold his software company, Aldus Corporation, and was ready for his next journey. Drawing on a life-long passion for the environment, Paul invited colleagues, friends and community members in Seattle to discuss his new idea – this one borne of the desire to get thousands more people highly engaged in philanthropy. These people would not just write checks. They would work shoulder-to-shoulder with nonprofits – using their professional skills to tackle Seattle’s most pressing problems. More than a hundred people showed up for that first meeting. Soon after the SVP model and the engaged philanthropy movement was set in motion.
By 2001, 18 SVPs had sprung up organically. Until that point, SVP in Seattle and ‘Executive Connector’ Paul Shoemaker had been acting as the informal network organizer and provider of information services and best practices. It became clear that it was time to formalize the network. Social Venture Partners International was born as the invisible backbone, the Network Office, that links the member organizations, staff and their Partners, allowing them to convene and learn from one another, while fostering new SVPs throughout the world.
The SVP Network Office serves as a hub for information, guidance and connection. They are the invisible backbone that allows each city in the SVP Network to focus on their purpose and passion and less on the processes associated with nonprofit management.
Through business, Brad and Tanya Zumwalt met Paul Brainerd. The unique model of supporting the community appealed to them, and in fall 2000, the Zumwalt’s launched Social Venture Partners Calgary, the first SVP in Canada. Since its inception, SVP Calgary has raised $2 million for direct investment with our investees and provided thousands of hours of volunteer time and expertise to those nonprofit organizations.