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Accelerating Engaged Philanthropy through Corporate Partnerships

Posted by seattle

Photo: SVP Corporate Partner, Nicole Bell at a Cambia Grove event.

Last year, SVP kicked off our corporate partnership program as a way to engage local businesses as partners in our work. The program is still in its early stages, and will evolve as we learn more about our corporate partners’ needs and how we can best work together to strengthen our community. In the meantime, we caught up with a few of our current corporate partners and are excited to share of some of their experiences!

People Helping People

BECU, Lease Crutcher Lewis and Cambia Grove could not be more different in terms of sector – financial services, construction, and health care respectively – but they share a strong central value: people helping people. Whether through employee giving campaigns, free financial health checks, home repairs for the elderly, or by supporting innovative health care solutions, these companies are deeply committed to improving lives in our region and beyond.

When Cambia Grove Founder and Executive Director Nicole Bell learned about SVP, she saw an opportunity to support an organization that works on upstream issues that are closely linked to health: education and the environment.

“In our industry we call these social determinants of health,” explains Nicole. “Where you live, your housing situation, educational or social mobility—these all have a big impact on your health and your ability to avoid chronic illnesses later in life.”

For BECU, the SVP partnership is part of their quest to align their business with their values, explains Vice President of Cooperative Affairs Sara Moorehead (below). Originally founded by Boeing employees in 1935 as a way to help fellow workers buy tools, BECU’s commitment to people helping people has a long history, which was most recently highlighted by a corporate citizenship award from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

sara-moorehead cropped

Sara sees opportunities to engage BECU employees in community change work through SVP. In the fall, BECU’s Leadership Team participated in a Think Tank-A-Thon where they heard from SVP Investees that are struggling with particular challenges. Participants discussed different solutions, collectively problem-solving with social sector leaders.

“It was a great way for BECU employees to get involved and use their skills in a meaningful way,” says Sara. It also inspired some of them to think about volunteering as Fast Pitch coaches.

Carey Crutcher Smith, director of marketing at Lease Crutcher Lewis, currently serves on SVP’s Environment Grant Committee and sees SVP as a great professional development opportunity. “We’re doing a lot of important work at a high level and we’re being guided really well,” says Carey (below). “I am definitely learning a lot.”

Carey Crutcher Smith

Carey has particularly benefited from learning about capacity building since there are parallels with her work at Lease Crutcher Lewis. Plus, the equity and social justice topics the grant committee has covered have “been very interesting to me,” says Carey. “I’m really glad we’re focusing on that.”

Grant committees are just one of the many ways SVP facilitates learning. Another is through peer gatherings. For instance, Sara and Tom Berquist, BECU’s Senior VP of Marketing and Cooperative Affairs, recently led a discussion about inspiring community engagement among employees at a corporate partner lunch.

“Sparks were flying (in a good way),” says Sara. “Everyone was really engaged in the conversation.”

New Ideas for Engagement

One of the ideas initiated by SVP’s corporate partners is leveraging their meeting spaces for SVP Partners, Investees, and Fast Pitch innovators to encourage connections and idea exchange. In fact, it’s already happening.

In April, Nicole co-facilitated a “Chew On This” dinner conversation on Health Equity. The event was a huge success and surfaced common interests in systemic change as it relates to health care. The group is meeting again soon, and in the meantime, “people who came to the health equity dinner are coming back to the Cambia Grove for coffee dates, which is awesome,” says Nicole.

She sees Cambia Grove becoming the “3rd place” for health care industry employees. Plus, she and Carey have both offered up their offices for Fast Pitch and other SVP events – recognizing a mutual benefit of complementary space for changemakers and increased exposure for their companies.

Nicole Bell

On a more personal note, Nicole (above) shared her appreciation for the SVP community. “It’s neat to learn about other people’s phenomenal work outside of a construct that’s a job or church or school,” says Nicole.

“Life can get narrow sometimes,” echoes Carey, “and it is refreshing to get perspectives from people in different sectors.” In fact, she’s been thinking about how she can bring some of those cross-sector perspectives to her team.

“I work for an innovative company that is focused on continuous improvement,” explains Carey. She was inspired when she went to SVP Fast Pitch, and now is hoping to host one of the winners at Lease Crutcher Lewis to give their pitch. She believes that could help her team think differently about problem solving.

Shaping the Corporate Partnership Program Together

SVP’s corporate partner program is new and evolving. Fortunately, in true SVP fashion, our corporate partners are excited to help shape the program. Sara, Carey and Nicole have all shared ideas with the SVP Corporate Partnership team – from ways to attract more businesses, to a nonprofit volunteer fair for corporate partners, to SVP-led workshops within their organizations. We are extremely grateful to have talented thought partners as we shape and grow this program!

Invite Companies to Learn More about SVP!

Do you know a business that would be a great fit for SVP? We are recruiting corporate partners as well as Fast Pitch sponsors. (Meet more of our corporate partners here.)

“I would definitely recommend businesses look into it. Particularly businesses looking to have more of an impact. There is a lot to learn and give.”
– Sara Moorehead, BECU

You can learn more about the program here and please feel free to email our team at beapartner@svpseattle.org for more information.

Corporate partnership co-chairs Lisa Merrill and Brad Brickman would also be happy to meet with anyone who is interested in learning more about ways companies can partner with SVP to strengthen our community.


One Comment:

  1. Brad Brickman

    As a SVP partner I can say that we are very fortunate to have a thoughtful and concerned group of businesses in investing in the social systems that make our communities stronger and more equitable. This is the time for all of us to step up and invest, especially corporations, as the traditional social safety nets have been eroded for the people who need it the most. Thank you BECU, Cambia Grove, Lease Crutcher Lewis, and the growing list of SVP Corporate Partnerships.

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