By Jennie Arbogash, Executive Director of SVP Boulder County
Last month SVP celebrated 15 years of serving Boulder County. There was a party (with balloons). There were speeches (with many thank you’s). There were hugs and toasts and fun photos. But here’s what struck me as I looked back:
One, SVP has always been about people. We are not an organization so much as a group of caring, dedicated people who come together to pool our hearts, our minds, and our wallets — because we know strong nonprofits deliver better results.
Two, much has changed over the years but our vision and values have held true. We believe in a future where all people in Boulder County work together to solve community problems creatively and effectively. We don’t just help nonprofits use smart business practices, strengthen leadership skills, and improve outcomes. We are guided by core values such as leveraging and strengthening, engaging and learning, inclusivity and respect, connecting and collaborating, and risking and growing.
So, in honor of our 15 year focus on strong nonprofits, below you’ll find stories about SVP’s work with nonprofits that exemplifies each set of our core values. Take a gander and be in touch to see how you can be a part of the next 15 years.
Yours in service, Jennie
SVP Boulder County Value 1: Leveraging and Strengthening
Leveraging the combination of human and financial capital to strengthen the internal and external capacity of local nonprofits to pursue their missions and create a positive ripple effect throughout our community.
TLC Learning Center became a SVP Boulder County investee in 2011, graduating in 2014. The partnership came at a time when TLC was losing clients and money due to shifting times and practices. While it still had a solid reputation and great programs, it was starting to see cracks in its longstanding business model that needed to be addressed. Across the board, SVP Partners and TLC’s leadership team had positive things to say about the investment relationship. During the partnership, TLC was able to develop a strategic plan, undergo a name change and rebranding as part of a new business model, re-do all its marketing materials, start an infant and toddler program, undergo important human resources realignment, and, through analysis of performance and financial metrics, improve the efficiency of its Therapeutic Services unit. As a result, TLC is poised to help hundreds of children and their families throughout the greater Longmont area. Now that’s leverage.
SVP Boulder County Value 2: Engaging and Learning
Developing the impact of our partners and the broader Boulder County community through active engagement and education in nonprofit capacity building.
Here at SVP Boulder County we are always looking for ways to serve more local nonprofits. We saw that many area nonprofits were requesting executive coaching while Partners were asking for new ways to get engaged with organizations. So, with the generosity of our Partners time, talents, and donations we were able to start a new program this year called Execs Evolve. This is a nine-month executive coaching program that matches a local nonprofit director with a SVP Partner for 12 meetings. We had three main goals when starting this program:
- Strengthen the leadership and management capacity of local nonprofit leaders
- Build deeper relationships between SVP and a broader variety of community nonprofits
- Leverage SVP Partner’s significant acumen and provide additional educational, developmental, and volunteer engagement opportunities
SVP Boulder County Value 3: Inclusivity and Respect
Fostering inclusivity and respect for all community members to help build the foundation of community solutions and sustainability.
SVP Boulder County brought local nonprofit Bridge House into its investee pool in 2009, graduating the organization in 2012. For SVP, it was the first foray into homelessness and housing, an issue on which the Partners were not well-educated. In this coming together, our uninformed views on homelessness were challenged and transformed into advocacy on behalf of new friends who were working hard to find work and housing. For Bridge House, it marked a decisive turning point in the organization’s growth where it completed a merger, adopted a new name, hired an internal Development Director, changed leadership, and developed key programs. These changes helped to mature the shape and scope of the organization over the next several years and now Bridge House has dramatically expanded its impact in Boulder.
SVP Boulder County Value 4: Connecting and Collaborating
Connecting and collaborating with individuals, nonprofits, businesses and community leaders to strengthen Boulder County resources.
From the beginning, a dominant theme in SVP’s pro-bono consulting had been the need for high quality board development for Boulder County’s nonprofit staff and volunteers. In 2014, SVP expanded what had been occasional one-off offerings into formalized, year-round nonprofit board governance best practice programming. BOARDS WITH BRAINS has allowed SVP to extend its reach, connecting with ever more nonprofits and collaborating to help them grow stronger from the inside, while building a pipeline of better informed volunteers across our community.
SVP Boulder County Value 5: Risking and Growing
Risking change and failure in the pursuit of mission as the path to growth and success.
From 2013 through 2014, SVP Boulder County conducted a multi-stage pilot program for social enterprise, including an educational workshop on social enterprise in nonprofits, a social enterprise development “scrimmage” for nonprofits, and a one-year investment in two nonprofits modeled after SVP’s core capacity building work. SVP Partners elected to make pilot investments in nonprofits at different lifecycle stages so it could assess its capacity building strengths and potential for greatest impact. Learn more about these investments in Intercambio Uniting Communities and Boulder Treasures in our case study.