At SVP, a set of shared values helps Affiliates connect and align around our global network. Together, we endeavor to keep pushing the envelope to ask how we can reimagine giving and show by example how to catalyze more resources and leverage our collective network of philanthropists. In this series we’ll lift up Affiliates who are aligning their values of proximity, accountability and collective action responsive to their varied local contexts.
How can proximity improve philanthropic program design?
SVP has always held proximity as an important value – but as philanthropy seeks to be more connected to community wisdom, we are learning that proximity is less about geographic closeness and more about getting connected to those who are most impacted. We do this by way of sharing power, building relationships, and standing shoulder to shoulder – so that those closest to the problems shape the solutions.
SVP Bengaluru shared the story of Mitti Café, a restaurant chain started by community members that provides employment and job skill training for people with disabilities. Mitti Café began as a single stall on a university campus, but as SVP Bengaluru built trust with frontline workers they learned that the Café also served an essential role by providing a place for customers to change their perception of people with disabilities.
By embracing the value of proximity, SVP Bengaluru invited the perspective of Mitti Café workers to shape how the program was expanded. Workers shared that their jobs at Mitti Café were meaningful for both the ability to earn a living and to confront stereotypes about the disabled. Every order was a chance for customers to confront their biases. Taking this lesson to heart, SVP Bengaluru worked to place new cafes in places that would prompt the most perception-changing interactions: office buildings.
Questions to ask yourself as you continue on your philanthropy journey:
How are you building relationships to those proximal, connected and knowledgeable about the issue areas you’re seeking to change? How does your practice position you and your Partners as learners shoulder to shoulder with those most impacted by systemic injustices?