Insider look: How philanthropic trends shape our strategy

SVPI 02/23/2021

Yesterday I shared with you part 1 of an email series giving you the inside scoop on our updated strategy. Today I’m digging into the following question:

What factors in the global landscape and the philanthropic sector help us understand what’s needed in SVP International’s updated approach?

For those of you newer to SVP, you might be asking where this all started. So before we dig into today’s question, a quick recap!

Over the last several years as SVP has expanded around the globe, Affiliates and Partners have encouraged SVP International to evolve into a leadership body who amplifies our collective impact beyond that of any one Affiliate.

We heard that we need to boldly step forward to bring more resources to our communities, orient towards shared values, find ways to recruit new Partners who align with our values, expand more strategically, and make sure SVP remains a key player within the philanthropic sector.

SVP International Staff, CEO, and Board Members listened and learned together through several points of engagement including the Principles 2.0 and Narrative Project, regular individual conversations between SVPI and Affiliate staff and Board members, an extensive Affiliate survey and benchmarking process that engaged over 30 Affiliates, conversations with Partners in small groups and via townhalls, learning cohorts of Affiliate staff, Board Chairs and staff of color, feedback during and after 2018 and 2019 Global Summits and Learning Labs, 200+ conversations with Partners around the globe in Spring 2020, and numerous SVPI CEO, Boardmember, and Staff visits (virtual and in-person) with Affiliates. 

That internal context informed SVP International’s adoption of a collective impact and systems change focused network Theory of Change in 2019.

But our internal context is only one part of the story. 

In the face of current global challenges, we’ve heard from SVP Partners and donors around the globe that they have a hunger to do more and be part of something bigger. The donor organizing sector has an urgent opportunity to step up and engage donors who are finding new activation around systemic change, equity, and justice.

What other trends are we seeing? 

  • Many donors are shifting their giving to more informal philanthropy like mutual aid networks and frontline efforts for change
  • Organizations are developing new ways to raise funds without in-person events, in person meetings and other traditional methods
  • Digital giving is growing at exponential rates
  • The biggest social movements of our time are calling on all of us to dramatically move resources and take actions towards bold systemic change
  • Pooled giving is up and seems to be here to stay
  • There’s a rising generation of givers of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds who are tech savvy, often connected to multiple localities, global in their approach, and seeking to build community around shared purpose and values
  • Impact driven and engaged philanthropy as a field is increasingly focused on priorities of effectiveness, equity, transparency, and systems change
  • Philanthropic giving is starting to shift, but it still tends to prioritize large, historically white-led organizations. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color leaders, especially Women of Color leaders and grassroots efforts tend to receive far less resourcing

SVP started with a focus on engaging philanthropists to show up for community and to do more and give more through an entrepreneurial and community-centered approach. SVP has two decades of experience around the globe in this kind of philanthropy. We helped put important practices like multi-year unrestricted grants and capacity building partnerships on the map. We know that SVP is a community who can step up to help shape the next chapter of philanthropy in the face of these trends.

Tomorrow – in part 3 of this email series – we’ll be digging into what our response to this shifting landscape looks like in practice. Throughout our listening, we heard that you wanted us to take action and pilot new approaches, so we’re eager to share some exciting early wins for our network as we evolve in the face of these trends.

In the meantime, I invite you to consider the question below and share your thoughts with us! How is the current context and the changing philanthropic landscape shaping your local vision and mission? 


Sudha Nandagopal
SVP International

Part 3: Insider Look: Alignment for Collective Impact

Part 4: Insider Look: How Are We Centering Our Values?

Part 5: Insider Look: New Possibilities for our Network

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