Terra Winston, SVP Chicago
SVP Chicago Partner
Meet Terra Winston.
She is a member of the SVPI Board of Directors, a long-time partner of SVP Chicago, and Principal of inTerract Consulting and Ringleader of inTerractions. Originally from New Jersey, she’s lived in Chicago for 23 years and is dedicated to helping others achieve their goals. Hear how SVP has helped her increase the impact of giving.
How has your work with SVP allowed you to put your values into action?
I’ve always been driven by a core set of values. When I found SVP, I saw that it was an organization that could help me live into my values and work for systems change. My engineering degree is in systems engineering, which is understanding how systems interact to create a common good. You’re always looking at causation and not correlation. You’re understanding the root causes so that you can solve the problems. That’s very much what strategic philanthropy and collective action are all about.
SVP Chicago has helped me learn more about systemic issues and how to effect change. The model is constantly evolving, and we’re always learning new ways to be more effective partners to the nonprofits we work with. In ten years, I expect SVP to be even more impactful in addressing the root causes of poverty.
How did SVP make you a better philanthropist?
At SVP Chicago, we’ve been able to look at the power difference between donors and nonprofits. We’re looking at how equity plays out. How can we better empower community leaders and not just ourselves?
What collective action allows you to do is crowdsource. When you combine your money with other people’s money, it can go to many places. If you think about a portfolio approach to your investments, some bets are going to be great and some bets aren’t going to be so great. Collective action is doing the same with pooled funds.
Traditional philanthropy isn’t open to changing itself and reevaluating its impact. Substantial donations go to programs and services that may not be addressing complex social issues effectively. This can prevent nonprofits from leveraging more evidence-based strategies that demonstrate a more positive impact on their communities.
The power of collective action can’t be underestimated. Pooling our resources allows us to have a greater impact and support a wider range of initiatives. Traditional philanthropy has its limitations, and it’s time to think outside the box and explore alternative ways to support our communities. The SVP model is a great example of the potential of collective action. And I believe that we should continue to explore and embrace this approach to make a real difference in the world.
Do you leverage your own giving by asking your networks more often? Do they give now?
My financial situation is different from that of many philanthropists. Although I am unable to give large sums of money right now, that doesn’t mean I can’t find ways to help others.
Since joining SVP, I’ve become a much more effective advocate for giving. I’ve learned how to use my voice and my platform to raise awareness about the need for collective action to make a difference. Many of us are passionate about giving back to our communities, but often lack the time or knowledge on how to properly do so. We must empower our partners to learn about collective giving and how to best advocate for their communities. This is done through board involvement and other avenues outside their everyday jobs.