Since 2001, Social Venture Partners (SVP) has endeavored to create a more thriving community by partnering with the most visionary nonprofits and leaders in Portland.
How do we know we are making an impact? How can we deepen it?
We recently convened a cohort of our Investor Partners, staff, and volunteers to evaluate SVP’s capacity building impact with our nonprofit Community Partners. This effort, called “Project Impact,” sought to answer the following questions:
- Define: What, specifically, is SVP’s intended impact with our Community Partners?
- Understand: What does the data say about SVP’s impact?
- Determine: How can SVP deepen its impact?
What did we find out? We learned that we are indeed effective at building the capacity of nonprofits and accelerating their growth. (whew!) The results show that we are effective because of the following key elements:
- We focus on the “how.” The relationship-building with our Community Partners is just as important as the capacity building work in order to achieve transformational impact.
- We connect people. We leverage the social capital of our Partnership to support the work of the nonprofits we invest in.
- We expect mutual commitment and accountability. We expect our Investor Partners to be accountable to their commitments with our nonprofit Community Partners, and our Community Partners drive the work.
- We focus on the mundane to create the sublime. We work with nonprofit Community Partners on their operations (the “mundane”) in order to strengthen their foundation and work in the community (the “sublime”).
- We believe in our Community Partners. We have confidence in our Community Partners’ abilities to create lasting impact. In addition, we push on the boundaries of what’s possible so the work of our Community Partners is elevated.
- We strive for balance. While we push on the boundaries of what’s possible, we are realistic in identifying constraints and limitations so that we are flexible, understanding, and resilient when it comes to meeting a Community Partner at their current status/state.
We also learned several ways that we can improve our impact, such as leveraging our relationships more deeply and preparing our Investor Partners better for their engagements with the nonprofits.
To learn more about these opportunities for improvement and our impact evaluation, read the full report here.