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Paul Shoemaker

Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

If you’re out to change the world, Paul Shoemaker is there to connect you to the people, ideas, and organizations that matter. Paul is the Founding President of Social Venture Partners International (SVPI) and was the Executive Connector of SVP Seattle for 17 years.  With insights from this unique vantage point, he is the Northwest’s leading expert on activating social change agents and a global thought leader on how individuals can be the most effective philanthropists.

Paul is the author of Can’t Not Do: The Compelling Social Drive that Changes Our World and has received multiple awards.  In 2011 and 2012, he was named one of the “Top 50 Most Influential People in the Nonprofit Sector” by The NonProfit Times, and in 2013, was named “Philanthropist of the Year” by Future in Review. Paul has spoken at TEDx and United Nations events and has written for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fortune, and The Huffington Post.

Paul is committed to work in the community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for SVPI and Partners for Our Children. Past work includes a term as Board Treasurer of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (2001-2007), as well as board service for the Microsoft Alumni Foundation (2008-2013) Children’s Alliance in Seattle (1996-2000) and Treepeople in Los Angeles (1987-1990).

In previous careers, Paul was group manager for worldwide operations at Microsoft Corporation and developed a group of 22 direct marketing professionals and implemented a direct marketing infrastructure. Prior to his work at Microsoft, Paul was a Product Manager at Nestle USA in Glendale, CA.

Paul holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Texas and a BBA in Accounting from Iowa State University. Paul enjoys life with his wife and three sons, and is an avid sports fan, especially of his own kids’ teams, and “enjoys” his hobby as a high school basketball referee.

Connect with Paul on LinkedIn >>

Shoemaker Spiel

Hear from Paul on philanthropy, nonprofits, and SVP connections.

Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Hearing Everything When I Couldn’t Understand Anything

Had a 39-hour “layover” in Tokyo on my way to Singapore for the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network Conference. I spent the afternoon with 40 SVP Tokyo Partners at their annual 2-day retreat. Other than Miki Aoki occasionally leaning over to clarify something being said, 99% of it was unintelligible for me … and it didn’t matter at all. In fact, I may have heard a lot more by just watching and feeling the room for 4 hours.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

17 Amazing Years for Me ... and a Great Future for SVP!

Two weeks ago, I sent out the note below to current and past SVP Partners and hundreds of friends, colleagues all over the world. Hitting "send," knowing that my next career path in life is TBD, took me a few extra seconds ... but then once I did, it felt good. I LOVE what I am doing today AND I can't wait to see what the future holds, not just for me, but for everyone in the SVP network all over the world.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Shoemaker Spiel on the Road

From Tampa Bay to Singapore, SVP's Executive Connector, Paul Shoemaker is making waves in the philanthropic media and challenging those in the social sector through a growing speaking circuit.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Are There QDDs Lurking In Your Giving Portfolio?

“Leaders from three different NGOs told me that if they were half as big in terms of revenue, they’d be twice as effective.” How is that possible? Check out Paul Shoemaker’s piece in the Stanford Social Innovation Review about quite damaging dollars. There’s a lively discussion underway and we want to hear from you!

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

The “worst call”

I was there with my two sons; if you’re reading this and you’re from Seattle, you know what I mean this week without me even telling you … “there” means the Super Bowl and the infamous “worst call.” I still can’t process it fully, they say stuff like that sticks with you forever.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

What's This about Making Philanthropy Hard?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about solo vigils and why it’s good to make philanthropy hard. Sort of kept rolling through my head. I am such a huge believer that, until you make your philanthropic work challenging, grounded, and push yourself, you are just swimming in the shallow end of the pool. I came across three more reasons why it’s good to make your philanthropy "harder."

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Solo Vigil

My son, Sam recently got back from a two-week hike in the Olympics, having taken on a 24-hour solo vigil at Toleak Point. It makes us parents a little nervous – from sunrise to sunrise, each young man is on their own with just a sleeping bag, water, and a single match. It's a challenge. And it's meant to be. Because that’s when we learn about ourselves, what we are made of. It’s when we truly grow and become better, stronger people.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Remembering Max

Many of you know that one year ago, this Saturday, we lost a great Partner, friend, community leader, and family man, Bill Henningsgaard. We also lost three young people, two in their home in Connecticut, Sade and Madisyn …. and Bill and Susan’s 17-year old son, Max.

I already knew a lot about Bill, but at a smaller family memorial last August 15th I learned so much more about Max. And what I learned most powerfully about and from Max was simply this … what each of us does on this earth matters, sometimes it matters a whole lot, often when we don’t know it … and just a few minutes can matter so much that it alters the course of a person’s life.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Paul Shoemaker on Rainmakers TV

SVP Seattle's Paul Shoemaker talks about his visit to SVPs in China, South Korea and Japan. He shares some of the philanthropic differences he encountered, and maybe more importantly, the common motivations that inspire people around the world to give back.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

People, Around the World, Out Over Their Skis

On the plane from Tokyo back to Seattle … What can one take away from 12 days in three SVP’s halfway around the world? So much. It's mind-boggling. Since I’ve used the three buckets a few times, I’ll use it once more, what the heck.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

China: Past, Present, Future

You can stand by a temple at the top of Jian Shan Park in Beijing and if you walk around it 360, you can take in the past, present and future of China all in a few minutes. All three of the cities I have visited over the past week (Tokyo, Seoul and now Beijing) have been breathtaking. And there is something that feels even richer, and more complex, about the past of Beijing.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Sometimes it’s 1998 again … no make that 2014 … actually, 2020

On the plane on the way to Beijing right now … from the biggest city in the world to the 3rd biggest to the 12th biggest. On a trip like this, your notepad fills up quickly and your head can start to spin, so I’m trying to organize 48 fast, fascinating hours with SVP Seoul into a few buckets that make sense -- at least to me.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Leaning In

On the plane on the way to Seoul right now … last session in Tokyo was 3-1/2 hours at Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities. Their founder, Haruo Miyagi embodies the classic entrepreneurial story. He launched his endeavor when he was back in college and today it’s grown into the most important entrepreneurship organization in all of Japan. Mr. Miyagi is a deeply humble, unassuming man, trying about as little as anyone could to impress. But it was beyond impossible NOT to be impressed.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Opening of Me

I know it’s easy for the American to say things aren’t that much different around the world …. They ARE different, cultures are different, languages are so different, the way people live their lives are different. And yet, when I sit in on an SVP meeting, in Texas or Tokyo, I can’t help but walk away feeling there is more that we have in common, that binds us together than makes us different, at least when it comes to wanting to help change the world. Let me share a little about why from our first two days with SVP Tokyo.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

When Does More Money Hold You Back?

I know I’m an unrestricted funding broken record, but I need to share just one more story. A few weeks ago I was halfway around the world at the Skoll World Forum. I met three CEO’s of significant NGO’s – all in the $10 million revenue range – who told me restricted funding is strangling them.

Every one said they’d rather be HALF THE SIZE with 100% unrestricted funds because they would have MORE IMPACT.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Sweep The Floors

Recently, I was meeting with a potential new Partner. I had known him / her for a few years. She was a key executive at a very successful company for many years. I’ve met SOME guys like that and they’ve built up a more than ample supply of ego, hubris, sort of an invincibility layer around them; as in "I made it, I’m probably smarter than most of you, and I’ll live my life from that mindset."

The exec I was talking to had about as much reason to feel that way as anybody … but he was exactly the opposite. In fact, her emphatic expression was that he wanted to “sweep the floors” in this philanthropic / community work we do.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

What Am I Willing to Own?

Heidi Breeze-Harris was, in her words, "just a sick pregnant lady with an idea." A decade later, her quest to fight a deadly disease has taken her halfway around the world.

On September 22, Paul Shoemaker shared her story with 1500 attendees at the 2013 Social Good Summit in New York City. His question: What am I willing to own?

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Building a Treehouse

Back around May, my 12-year old boy, Sam, started reading this book, Dangerous Boys. One of the chapters is about building a tree house, and he sat down next to me one evening just sort of telling me a few things about that chapter.

The “subtle” sell job was on. It didn’t take a whole lot for me to sign on and like any such project. If I had known how many hours it was really gonna take, I probably wouldn’t have.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Memorial for Bill & Max Henningsgaard

Many of you already know, but I want to be sure everyone is aware and that you have information for later this week … We lost Bill Henningsaard and his son, Max, on Friday morning in a tragic plane crash. As I type those words, my hands still shake, the eyes water, and the mind struggles to even comprehend. There will be two memorials held, one on Thursday for close family and friends and one on Friday that is open to everyone.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Remembering Bill Henningsgaard

We are very sorry to inform the SVP family and our whole community about the tragic loss of Bill Henningsgaard, his son, Max, and the two young girls who also lost their lives. There are hundreds of people that have a story about Bill – when he went the extra mile, when he knew just the right thing to say, how he would never give up. He was truly all-in for this community, heart, mind and soul.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

FiRe & Red Wings

It’s been a busy spring for SVP’s own Paul Shoemaker who received the Philanthropist of the Year Award at the Future in Review conference and the Red Winged Leadership Award from Seattle University. Plus, he was also featured in Alliance Magazine, and provided the keynote address for a series on Impact Capitalism.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

What If a Vision Is Even More Powerful 15 Years Later?

It was actually almost 16 years ago now … I went to a get-together at The Ruins in Seattle where 5 people told about 100 people about this new approach to philanthropy called Social Venture Partners. Today there is a story unfolding around the world, quite literally, that some of you have probably heard bits & pieces about, but just a few of us have been lucky enough to see the “whole elephant.”

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Tip-Off Point

Although SVP Seattle has been around for fifteen years, there is so much more room to grow. Paul Shoemaker shares his vision for SVP's future, and why we're just now at the tip-off point. Game on.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Game On

Every once in a while, someone will criticize SVP or me for not having a little more fun or taking the time to celebrate along the way. They are right, and if you were there Saturday night, are you satisfied for a while now?! :-) We celebrated our 15th anniversary, filling MOHAI. It was a lot of fun, and two things stood out for me.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Calling Corporate America to a Higher Purpose

We already have a good idea of what needs to be done to create large-scale change. We also already have the funding to create that impact. So, what's missing? In his TEDxBGI talk, Paul Shoemaker shares why we need the big (bad?) corporations to make things happen.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

A pretty cool moment ... 2 months ago

On Friday night of our SVP Conference, we sat and listened to the aspirations and dreams of the SVP founders in India and China-to-be. It was stimulating, very exciting, and … just a little bit overwhelming. If you’d have heard them, you’d think they were sort of channeling that evening in 1997. They really “get it,” even though they are halfway around the world, living in cultures and countries very different from North America.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Grand Opening - So Much More Than a Building

No hyperbole, our Grand Opening was one of the most unique, exhilarating evenings in my career. In my brief remarks, I offered up the idea that this is not so much a place with an address, but a space with an aspiration for positive change.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Moving

For the next two weeks, the SVP staff is “homeless” while we wait to move into our new digs with BGI and the HUB. The potential is awesome, but right now … oh boy. More than once I’ve asked myself the question – so whose great idea was this in the first place?? (Don’t answer that.) I need to remind myself WHY we are moving and hope like heck we get it right. Read More »

Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

The Annual Camping Trip

Each summer, I take a weekend camping trip with one (or more) of my sons. Just so you know, it’s classic open-the-back-of-the-SUV camping, but it’s still a great experience to get out in the wild and open air with my guys. Last year, I used a reflection from that to draw an analogy to our approach to capacity building with non-profits. Something different stuck with me this year.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

White House

I got invited to the White House Forum on Philanthropy Innovation last week. Pretty cool opportunity. Just thought I’d share a couple reflections – It reaffirms that there are people all over this country (and world) giving their lives and everything they’ve got to help making the world a better place for everyone.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

A Story about "Rich" People

"That blew my mind. I had no idea that rich people actually cared about poor people, about their community. I had no idea that something like SVP existed.” Those words came from Year Up student, Irving Severino after our last Spring Meeting. I couldn’t get them out of my head. A few days later decided I had to go have a cup of coffee with Irving and try to better understand.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Guess Who Hit the Top 50 Again?!

Yep, for the second year running, SVP’s own Paul Shoemaker is named one of The NonProfit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50! Joining the ranks of philanthropic leaders like Jeff Skoll, Marion Wright Edelman, and Bill Gates, Paul has been recognized as one of the nonprofit sector’s top executives and thinkers.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

New Digs for the NEXT 15 Years!

It's not JUST a new place to work. It’s a new energy and center for connectivity and positive change in our community! SVP is moving down 2nd Ave to co-locate with The HUB Seattle and the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in the historic Masin’s furniture building in Pioneer Square.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Impact to the 3rd Power

In our March newsletter we profiled an Investee with whom we are in our 5th year. That story prompted a long-time Partner and super-volunteer, John Fine, to write back...

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Circling Back

Someone on staff had the “audacity” to suggest that maybe we should circle back on some of the blog posts over the last few years that have addressed topics like the need for more cross-silo / connected philanthropy, whether SVP should encourage more competition or collaboration, and some of the daunting challenges involved in taking a “hyper-collaborative” approach and talk about where SVP is today.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Post Partner Meeting Perspective

So that was, I think, the 22nd Partner meeting for me. Must be old hat, kind of rote by now, right? … NOT! Yes, it’s my job to say stuff like that, but really, the semi-annual get-togethers continue to be such a source of energy, renewal, connection.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

A Bang-Bang Experience

I woke up this morning to an email from Chuck Holland at 5:07AM … who the heck is Chuck Holland, right?! Well, here is his inspiring note. Be sure to click on the half-hour interview with Kelly Ramirez, the ED of SVP Rhode Island.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

What is YOUR Stretch?

"At SVP we see one thing. Potential." Paul Shoemaker, our Executive Connector, challenged us to think about our own potential, how me might stretch to unlock that potential, and who might be touched by the ripples we create.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Superman #2 - The Pit in my Stomach

Two weeks ago I posted a reflection on Waiting for Superman with a pit in my stomach. Let me explain: SVP had a real-life Superman-like experience at Cleveland High School.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Superman

I assume some of you have seen the new movie,Waiting for Superman. It’s worth your time. It leaves me both hopeful and daunted. It is a social challenge that we have NO choice but to tackle, inexorably, against the odds, until we turn our public school system around.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Who and What is the “The Network”, Really?

The GEO conference reinforced and extended my ideas about working collaboratively and connectedly. BUT it also mixed things up for me in one significant, and very good, way. I will walk away thinking a lot harder about WHO AND WHAT IS “THE NETWORK” REALLY?

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Kony 2012: The Great Product Debate

Most of us have heard or seen that name this week. It has raised a wide range of reactions, all over the spectrum. I’m not here to advocate one way or another for the content or cause or how they go about it. What does make me kinda nuts is the criticism that some people have laid out – that Invisible Children doesn’t spend enough money on “programs.”

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Small Connections, Take 2: From Bellevue to Oakland

What do Bellevue and Oakland have in common? I found out the other day when I got an email from a former SVP Partner, Joneil Custodio.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Localizing the World Economic Forum

The theme for this year's World Economic Forum is The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models. My position is that we need to focus more on harnessing social and human capital (not just financial capital). What do you think? Given the challenges confronting us in 2012 and beyond, what does the social sector have to do to think -- and be thought of -- differently? How can we rapidly change the "equation for social good"?

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Paul Shoemaker, Meet TED

Last November, 25+ speakers, leaders, artists, innovators, and visionaries spoke at Seattle's TEDx Rainier event. It was a day-long whirlwind of ideas and stories that crossed frontiers, and SVP's own Executive Connector, Paul Shoemaker was invited to speak. Missed the event? Don't worry. You can now catch the presentations online!

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Small Connections

Sometimes the connections SVP makes are between new members of grant committees or several Partners that have a common community interest or … life-long friends that haven’t connected for years. Sometimes the connections happen intentionally or as part of a structured group … and sometimes it happens on-the-fly and out of nowhere, like for Cynthia and Meredith.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Paul's Wish List

As the holiday season is all around us, everyone has their wish list for Santa this year. I thought I’d throw out a few things I’d love to find under my 'tree,' starting with a renewed and recharged sense of hope and energy in 2012 for working even harder and smarter at solving our community’s challenges.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Thanks.

I suppose I should’ve written this a few weeks ago, but the holiday season works too… I write a lot of individual thank you notes to Partners when they renew or do something significant. That means I write a lot of notes! But it’s been awhile since I publicly just said to everyone in SVP - THANK YOU!

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

12 Million More Nonprofits?

My response to a Chronicle of Philanthropy article discussing the burden of 12 million new nonprofits on the sector.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Takeaway from the Fall Meeting

At our Fall Meeting last Tuesday night, it was a blast like it always is. As I was driving home, there were two things I blurted out that really stuck in my (tired) head …

… The first, something along the lines of “one of the coolest things about SVP is that each person is here to define their individual journey and vision, but by being connected to the network, each person’s vision always grows the vision of the whole SVP community.” I hope that doesn’t sound too ethereal because it’s very real.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

A 3:22 AM Why-We-Do-What-We-Do Moment

So it’s 3:22AM in Chicago, I’m at my sister’s ... I’ve been here for two days at the Independent Sector conference and a reception this evening to launch an SVP in Chicago. That was cool. I’m still up, bleary-eyed beyond words, and getting ready to go to sleep when I check my voicemail quick. There is one message.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Minnesota Highlights

Just got back from the annual SVP Conference where global Partners connect, exchange information, and share their journeys that have led each to the same place – Social Venture Partners. The energy was palatable, the enthusiasm invigorating and we took away powerful inspiration.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Too Many NonProfits? It's Time for Funders to Consolidate

If you ask just about any philanthropist, from big-time givers to Joanne Q. Public, they'll tell you there are "too many non-profits." But there is MUCH less talk about funders consolidating or collaborating. Where is the outcry for the sources of capital to better rationalize their philanthropic investments?

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Think Differently

Like probably everyone else this week, I’ve been thinking about Steve Jobs, off and on, quite a bit. The world truly feels like a lesser place without him … it is. Jobs was all about “changing the world” and “thinking differently.” The guy was truly one of the Einstein’s of our generation. I just can’t help but think a little bit about how that kind of thinking is so needed in other parts of our world, in the social sector, in the change-the-world-for-the-better sector.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Paul Shoemaker on Rainmakers.TV

What defines a rainmaker? In their documentary series, Rainmakers.TV seeks out people who have the qualities to make things happen. And that includes SVP’s own Paul Shoemaker. In his interview, Paul talks about what it looks like when you turn philanthropy on its head and change professional success into personal significance.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

It’s the Soil, not just the Trees

A few weeks ago, I went on my annual end-of-summer camping weekend (I’m not exactly a big camping fan) with my 10-year old, Sam, at Millersylvania State Park. As we laid in our two-person tent, side by side, we looked up through the mesh roof of our tent. The stars were brilliant, but the real “stars” were the hundreds of huge, tall, majestic pines that surrounded us.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

The Buzz on SVP Staff – From Net Impact to Leadership Tomorrow

SVP staff are racking up accolades! Lynn Coriano was selected as a PLACES Fellow, Mike Quinn was accepted into Leadership Tomorrow’s class of 2012, and Paul Shoemaker was interviewed in the Seattle Times and is a featured panelist at this fall’s Net Impact Conference. Congrats all around!

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Superman #3: School & Nonprofit Systems - Why Sometimes I Want to Bang My Head Against a Wall

In October and November I kicked off a 3-part flashback ignited by to the film Waiting for Superman. The last piece I’d like to share reflects a small group session I was in a few years ago with a retired urban School Superintendent. It was intended as an informational session per se, but pretty much turned into a therapy session for her and a powerful, at times painful, plethora of lessons learned for me to hear. I saved my notes.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Egypt

Like everyone, I’m watching the events in Egypt with awe, fear for the people on the street, and enormous hope for their possible future. What does any of it have to do with the social sector? A LOT and let me explain, from two perspectives.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

National back to Local

Investing $1 in high quality early learning programs like Head Start returns $7. We do have to get our federal budget more in balance, but why threaten such a high ROI investment?

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

How do we unleash cross-silo, connected philanthropy?

SVP’s assets and today’s world scream out for a new SVP that can be a catalyst like no other philanthropic organization in the world. At tonight’s Spring Meeting, we reflected on where we are today, and how SVP can be a leader in the decade ahead. What are your thoughts? How can we make this happen?

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Strengthening the “Nonprofit Ecosystem”

Sometimes the best places to read about philanthropy and the non-profit sector are in publications outside the sector. Clay Holtzman’s piece about the Nonprofit Ecosystem report in the Puget Sound Business Journal is a good example because he looks at everything from a different vantage point.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

"Tough Times"

Every one of us has been to a meeting, a gathering in the last six months where that phrase was somewhere in the title. And well it should be. As the saying goes, deal with reality as it is, not as you wish it were. One measure of that reality is the sense that, in past economic downturns, some of us might say we knew someone that knows someone adversely affected. This time, I think every one directly knows someone that’s been significantly impacted. I know I do. And yet …

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

The times we are living in, aka riding the roller coaster

I’m sitting at 6:37am watching the markets take another roller coast dive, Dow down 338 points in 7 minutes. I’ve had a number of thoughts rolling through my head for several days now (as I’m sure all of you have too).

It goes without saying that we are living through a period of time, who knows how long it will last, that is different than anything any of us have ever experienced. It seems destined to make the ’01 dot-bust look like a blip / dip comparatively. You all know that the social needs in our neighborhood, cities, region, nation, world are going to grow and the public funds are gonna concurrently tighten (they have to). Philanthropy can’t begin to replace but a fraction of those dollars and this is going to affect all of us.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 10

Statement #10 - I have a great idea for a new program - I’ll start my own nonprofit.

It’s the last time we’ll say it – just don’t! Or certainly make it your last option. There has been a proliferation of non-profits over the last 10-20 years, some of them quite valid and needed. This also means there are more and more small organizations struggling to get enough resources to reach some level of sustainability and organizational capacity.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 9

Lesson #9 - “I want to be sure our family foundation is around for a long time to come so I need to be sure to spend only as much as I have to every year”

There is nothing wrong with that approach, but you might want to consider what more and more philanthropists and foundations are doing now (i.e. giving away their full corpus within a stated time frame.) Bill and Melinda Gates said 50-100 years, Warren Buffet said 10 years!

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 8

Lesson #8 - “I have a great idea for a new program that XXX could try for kids. I just want to run it by them”

Whoa! Slow Down! Or more accurately, be very cognizant of what you know and what you don’t know. Be sure your suggestions are within your expertise, relevant experiences and interactions with nonprofits.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 7

Lesson #7: “Non-profits move so slowly; it takes forever to make decisions”

Yes, there are some non-profits that are inefficient, just like some for-profits. But more often than not, the pace and decision-making style of a non-profit is more consensus-driven because of its constituencies, communities, and clients.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 6

Lesson #6: “I joined that Board because I was invited by a friend and it looks good on my resume”

Just don’t :-) If you look across the non-profit/philanthropic sector, probably the #1 challenge is Boards that do not understand their roles and do not carry out their goals. Given that, we must have committed, focused, high quality people join Boards. Not people who do it to pad their resume or because they are only doing a friend a favor.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 5

Lesson #5 -- “I think philanthropists that are public and visible are just showing off with their money”

There are cases where that is true and certainly it’s a personal decision about how public or private to be about one’s philanthropy. More often than not, someone being more public or visible about their philanthropy is done for a reason, i.e. to show leadership and commitment to a particular cause. And to do so as a means to an end, to help raise more philanthropic capital. This is true especially for newer organizations and causes.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 4

Lesson #4: "The non-profit needs to be run more like a business and set specific goals …"

Like a lot of things in life, it depends on what you mean by the words "run like a business." Sometimes the expression is used inappropriately and ignorant of the unique issues a non-profit faces. Three simple examples: 1) in most situations in the non-profit world, the "end customer" does not buy the product or service, 2) the usual economies of scale are often not present for non-profit direct service organizations, and 3) there is no clear "market signal" like earnings per share to guide and optimize where capital flows; in fact sometimes money can run away from successful non-profits because they don’t "need" it as much.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 3

Lesson #3 - “I need to be careful to not let the non-profit get too dependent on my contributions”

Logically, how does discontinuing funding to a non-profit make them more “independent” or “less dependent”? There is a reality for most non-profits – they depend on funders (corporate, individual, public) for some or much of their revenue. To the degree that they have fee-for-service, or earned income revenue streams, they can become less dependent on philanthropic sources of funding. But discontinuing their funding is not an action that prevents or reduces their dependency per se.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 2

Lesson #2 – “It is clear this non-profit needs my support more than the other. This non-profit might not survive without my contribution and that other non-profit has plenty of money.”

There are certainly times where urgent financial need is the right criteria for making a grant decision. But just as often it is not.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

10 Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist: Lesson 1

I’m going to start a series – “Ten Things We’d Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist.” Each of the 10 things will be posted individually every few days and each will open with a title that paraphrases a common misperception or mistake, like this one.

Lesson #1 – “I want all of my contribution to go directly to the program and the kids being served and not have any wasted on overhead or administration.”

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

On the road...

I’m heading out on a trip this week to visit: Toronto for the kickoff event of the 25th SVP, Pittsburgh for a Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Board meeting, and to meet with Pittsburgh SVP Partners, and...Cincinnati to help kick off their new SVP on the evening of the 8th. Pretty good itinerary, huh?!

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Good Books

At the SVPI conference last week (www.svpi.org) there were several books floating around. I thought I’d point out a few of them.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

The Network

So I walk into a local Starbucks at about 9am this morning, a little early for a 9:30am meeting with a past Partner. Another former Partner walks in shortly thereafter and she tells me all she is up to – working on a new national org called www.standwithus.com and other significant work. And she tells me how SVP really helped get her going.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Values

We just finished our annual SVP International get-together. Over 200 Partners and Staff from over two dozen cities across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and Japan were there. We heard world-class keynotes from Patty Stonesifer and Paul Brainerd. It is a guaranteed once-a-year shot of adrenaline, ton-of-fun, and chance to reconnect with a bunch of “smart, cool, soulful” people as Bob Wright from Dallas described the network.

After 3-1/2 days of staff, Board and conference meetings, dinners, and conversations, my most lasting impression is of the people and their VALUES.

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

"Risk"

Do foundations actually take risks as they claim to be able to? How are these risks assessed? What are the reasons for taking risks (innovation is only one of them)? Do systems for measuring performance and/or impact limit innovation and risk-taking?

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Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners, Seattle, on 11-25-13 (C)2013 KarenOrders.com

Getting Out of the Echo Chamber

This is the first entry in SVP Seattle's blog. Welcome! We will make posts periodically, trying to offer a perspective, share knowledge, or hear from a guest publisher. This entry looks at the possibility of systemic change in the non-profit and philanthropic sector.

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