Amplifying Impact through Engaged Philanthropy in Denver

SVPI 06/03/2024
Affiliate Spotlight

Rich Shockey, SVP Denver

Rich Shockey, CEO of Social Venture Partners Denver (SVP Denver), draws from over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience and a lifelong commitment to empowering underserved communities. We spoke with him about SVP Denver’s “engaged philanthropy,” their recent catalytic funding from Fidelity, and how they drive progressive change as a vital connector between local changemakers and partners in the Denver area.

You’re relatively new to SVP Denver. What led you there?

I come from the social impact space. I’ve been in nonprofit leadership for most of my life. I once stood in need of services myself, and it was the rallying of community and their resources around me that got me to where I am today. To be in this space is really meaningful to me – to feel like I have a chance to pay back the community, pour into my community, and do some good in the world.

Before coming to Denver, I was running a nonprofit furniture bank in Kansas City, giving a household full of free furniture to people coming out of homelessness. It was very meaningful work – we served about 1000 families a year. When I came to Denver over a year ago, I was looking for a place to serve that was having a profound impact on the community. Being involved in direct service is meaningful because you’re close to the stories, but I knew what it was like to struggle as an executive director to find the resources to do the work.

How does SVP Denver support nonprofits? What impact have you had?

SVP Denver has been doing this impact work for almost 25 years. In 2023, we served 106 social mission organizations. I feel like I get to be a part of the impact we’re having across so many areas—if we’re serving an organization doing rehousing, I feel I have a hand in helping people get rehoused. If it’s food security, I feel I’m helping people get fed.

We stand as a vital connector between those who have resources and those who need resources, to really open up those conduits and help the resources flow. We curate and cultivate a pipeline, give insight into great work, and elevate work organized by marginalized communities to help them find the resources needed for their work. We do this with a special group of over 50 engaged partners – individuals, foundations, and corporations looking to have an amplified impact.

What are some of SVP Denver’s current key focus areas?

We have a commitment to helping solve health, economic, and equity challenges, so we deliberately keep that broad to stay in touch with the range of work happening in Denver. We occasionally have focused “solution sessions” on real community challenges like housing, food insecurity, or refugee/immigrant challenges.

Our recent Fidelity Charitable Catalyst Fund grant is really helping catalyze the flow of philanthropic dollars. We have strong capacity-building programs, but we still needed that final piece of moving more philanthropic capital into the organizations we serve. The grant is propelling us into being able to make an equitable impact investment in a big way, driving a lot more dollars to help organizations scale up.

You mentioned the Fidelity Charitable Catalyst Fund grant. What is SVP Denver hoping to achieve with that funding?

When Tony Bowen from Fidelity asked what we would need to scale giving in Denver, I said a director of development. That allowed us to hire Eliana Blancas, who is incredible. 

Eliana and I have been figuring out a couple of key things for Denver. One is building equity into the philanthropic side, just as we focus on equity when serving marginalized communities. Part of that has been launching a collective impact fund with a thesis of democratized, community-driven giving.

The other big motivation is reigniting our impact investment work. Many partners used to do really impactful, six-figure investment deals to help organizations scale up, but we had drifted from that. This Fidelity grant is propelling us into being able to offer curated impact investment opportunities again in an equitable way. I’ve had so many people say they have money ready to deploy if we can bring them the right opportunities. This impact investing piece will move a tremendous amount of new funding.

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