The Power of Connections with SVP Tucson

SVPI 04/02/2024
Affiliate Spotlight

SVP Tucson

Led by President and CEO Ciara Garcia and VP of Strategic Relationships Brie Seward, Social Venture Partners Tucson is pioneering a transformative approach to engaged philanthropy. 

“We have an impassioned core of partners deeply invested in creating positive change,” said Garcia. 

With over 19 years of experience spanning the nonprofit and philanthropic spheres, Garcia brings an unwavering belief in the power of relationships to reshape communities. Seward’s complementary expertise from leading programs, forging strategic partnerships, and increasing fundraising amplifies SVP Tucson’s impact. 

The team in Tucson is charting an ambitious future that maximizes growth, centers community voices, and drives measurable outcomes. SVP’s staff, committees, and board take a thoughtful approach to their work, leveraging the full spectrum of the engaged philanthropy model to affect sustainable systems change. 

We spoke with Garcia and Seward to celebrate receiving a new grant and learn how SVP Tucson is at the nexus of this partnership paradigm.

First, congratulations on the grant from Fidelity! Can you tell us more about that, including what you plan on putting that money towards?

Brie Seward:
Receiving support from the Fidelity Charitable Catalyst Fund is an incredible opportunity. It’s equipping us with the resources to amplify our outreach. Fidelity is investing in us to increase the level of work we’re doing and extend our reach to identify new partners that will join us in our vision to create a community where everyone can thrive.

We will work with consultants to do market research and focus groups to hone in on new partner opportunities and develop outreach materials to reach them where they are. We want to identify future believers in the SVP cause and engage them in our mission. This opportunity will enable us to tell the SVP story to the greater community and recruit new partners to leverage their expertise in our two programs: 2Gen Nonprofit Collaboration and Fast Pitch. As a marketer, I am over the moon that we have the opportunity to collaborate with experts in the field to discover new avenues to recruit partners and expand our partnership to ultimately benefit the nonprofits we work with. 

Ciara Garcia: The Fidelity grant is specifically to expand our partnership. We aim to bring on an additional 200 partners, and working with those consultants and doing market research will help us reach those new partners. Each new partner who invests in our focus allows us to amplify our reach and move more children and families out of poverty.

One of the things we think about a lot is how we can drive our community impact, and the most important resource there is our partners. Since 2018, our operating budget has tripled. The amount of grants that we’re giving out to the nonprofits we work with has tripled. But our partnership has grown incrementally at 15% per year. Rapidly expanding our partnership is the game changer — that’s the piece that’s really been missing. 

Speaking of your focus on moving children and families out of poverty, can you talk about some of your recent successes with the two-generation (2Gen) approach?

Ciara: 2Gen is based on the understanding that children and parents are intertwined. We don’t impact a kid’s life without affecting the parents or caregivers and vice versa. Yet programs and policies are often designed as single intervention strategies. Almost six years ago, we engaged in community listening sessions in Southern Arizona and uncovered that resources for parents and kids in our area were really disjointed. They weren’t working well for families. So, we’ve built this 2Gen nonprofit collaboration of eight organizations. They receive unrestricted funding from us, and we provide them with our SVP model of capacity-building support. Additionally, we help them connect services across areas like workforce development, early childhood education, mental health care, and social capital. 

It’s been transformative having this nonprofit ecosystem that thinks about and supports entire families together with low barriers. Our focus is using this holistic 2Gen model as we grow from previously serving just three nonprofits to now eight. We want to add two to three more nonprofits, which we think is what we need to cover all required services for southern Arizona families. The Fidelity grant will help us with this as we scale up our partnerships and grow our membership.

Tell us about how the Fidelity grant came about. 

Ciara: Institutional funding is so often about relationship-building. We connected with Fidelity because they already have a relationship with SVP International, so they were familiar with and supportive of the SVP model. They’d already bought into the SVP ethos. They wanted to see it accomplish more in certain regions like Arizona where we’re located. We’ve really nurtured that relationship, explaining our programming and impact here in southern Arizona, and we’re honored they chose to support us. They visited us for our 9th annual Fast Pitch event supporting the eight nonprofits on March 26th!

You mentioned Fidelity really buys into the SVP ethos. Can you explain how you see and live that ethos in your affiliate group?

Ciara: One of the parts of our impact is what happens when someone becomes a partner. We look at the SVP experience as a place where people connect with people and learn about philanthropy. From our speakers series and educational events on racial and gender justice, we work hard to be a place where people start to think about their place in this world differently. 

Brie: Both organizations are in alignment and share the same vision. Fidelity wants to inspire donors, strengthen nonprofits, and amplify insights, which is very similar to our mission and what we currently do through the SVP model. 

Ciara: When we saw the Fidelity presentation reviewing their giving principles, we were elated because they perfectly aligned with ours. We use different wording, but our values and principles are exactly the same. At SVP Tucson, we want to see more people giving in Southern Arizona. We want to see people who are already giving increasing their investments in community-based organizations focused on racial and gender justice through unrestricted multi-year gifts. It turns out that’s precisely what Fidelity wants, too.

Brie: The synergy and alignment are there, and the Fidelity Charitable Catalyst fund is offering us the support required to take our work to the next level and go to places we have dreamed of. By increasing the number of partners, we can bring the support and expertise to the nonprofits we collaborate with. With this support, we will bolster our team and achieve a more substantial impact in Southern Arizona, empowering nonprofits to reach more individuals with increased effectiveness.

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