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SVP Portland’s Executive Director Update: July 2019

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland
Executive Director

Dear Partners: 

In my continued commitment to consistent and transparent communication, I want to follow up to my April letter and our Annual Partners Gathering. I begin with a personal reflection, and am also including organizational highlights here for those who want a deep-dive on SVP progress.

First off, I am incredibly proud of the many ways our Partnership is strengthening the capacity of our Community Partners; of the growing influence and effectiveness of these organizations; of the fact that we are making “Preschool for All” a viable opportunity for children in Multnomah County. SVP Portland has been a critical catalyst, investor, and capacity builder to accomplish this. The progress is remarkable. 

Simultaneously, I must admit that it has been a very difficult period for us internally, primarily due to high staff turnover and starting 2019 with financial instability. I also know that there are seasons for organizations, as there are seasons in nature. And, I’m happy to report that our new core team is exceptional, and has been working tirelessly to address internal challenges as well secure resources in order to maintain our impact. There are indicators that we will survive a difficult winter, because I see the sun straining to peek through the clouds. Our Board is highly engaged and committed to fulfilling their responsibilities. We have taken drastic measures to right-size the organization and cut expenses. Staff are focused on executing organizational priorities. Investor Partners are asking hard questions to understand how we got here, rolling up their sleeves to help our lean but strong staff, and making additional financial investments to fuel our work. There is growing demand for our expertise and influence as venture philanthropists. Examples such as these put us on track to emerge from this season stronger, wiser, and more resilient. We still have significant work ahead, but I am optimistic that we can renew.

The strength of SVP Portland is that we are a partnership, where we achieve much more together than we do alone, in both the glory days of summer and the darker days of winter. Now is a time where our partnership is being tested; 23% of Partners have already risen to the challenge and invested more deeply in SVP, recognizing SVP’s unique value-add in this moment. For the remaining 77%, I’m asking you to join your fellow Partners in making an additional gift. As someone who has already helped SVP drive the “Preschool for All” initiative forward, I hope to have your continued support, such that we can become a beacon for what a high performing and high impact nonprofit organization can achieve. 

Here are a few ways Partners can help: 

  • Make an additional investment beyond your partnership pledge. One Partner’s family foundation has established a $20k challenge grant, and is committed to closing the gap when we reach $280k. We are making terrific progress, and with your help we can get there!
  • Renew your partnership now, which is especially critical if your employer provides limited matching funds. 
  • Do you know someone who might be interested in becoming an Investor Partner? Matt, Director of Investor Partnerships, is excited to meet prospective Partners through a warm introduction. Please share referrals (matt@svppportland.org), or invite them to an SVP Happy Hour and Matt can take it from there. 

I remain highly motivated to advance our mission and optimistic that our partnership will rise to meet today’s challenges. Thank you for your continued investment in SVP’s health and growth. 

In partnership,

Lauren Johnson, Executive Director

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