As a part of our commitment to advance our goal of being more diverse, inclusive, and equitable, we recently sought to hear directly from our Community Partners about how we can be more effective collaborators. We also wanted to learn how they experience SVP, particularly around decision making, power sharing, and relationships with communities of color. Encore Fellow Kaye Gardner-O’Kearny wrote a report that reflects Community Partners’ feedback from a series of deep-dive interviews as well as an anonymous survey.
Overall, the report was positive–Community Partners expressed that they value SVP, the way we function as capacity-building partners, and the positive impact we have on their organizations. One respondent stated that “SVP’s partnership has been so important to our growth, to our ability to scale programs, to advance our advocacy work.” Community Partners recognize that we continue to evolve, and it is clear that diversity among our Partners, staff, and Board is a primary place we can improve so that a breadth of perspectives can make SVP a stronger organization and increase our impact. In other words, as one respondent succinctly said, “SVP needs to Walk the Talk.” Community Partners desire to have their voices heard and participate in short-term projects at SVP, though they want to do so in a focused way. They appreciate that “SVP’s work is very collaborative. They will help you look at and work on what is within an organization and across organizations.” Some of the key takeaways from the report regarding the next steps for SVP are to maintain focus on our core strength of serving as a trusted capacity building partner over multiple years, increase our diversity (in a number of ways, including race, socio-economic, age, and skill), understand and resolve lack of clarity about how we operate, and explore ways we can better advocate for systemic shifts within philanthropy.
We have a deep appreciation for our Community Partners’ candid feedback to help us learn more about our greatest strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. Their invaluable input will help us in a myriad of ways, including shaping our evolving governance structure to share power with those closest to the community challenges we strive to help solve.