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Have you got what it takes to be an SVP Lead Partner? Yes – you do!

Posted by SVP Vancouver

Yo Bro Executive Director Joe Calendino with former Lead Partner Nick Bedford

SVP Investees rely on Partner time, expertise, and connections to help achieve their organizational objectives while increasing their impact in our community. To access these resources, one of the most critical volunteer roles with SVP is that of Lead Partner.

Lead or Support Partners act as the primary liaison between the Investee and SVP to help make the relationship as productive as possible.

Currently (as of January 2018), SVP Vancouver has nine Investees with 12 Partners acting in a Lead Partner capacity – several of whom are Lead Partners for two Investees. In order to sustain SVP’s growth, it is vitally important that we continue to engage the time and talent of even more of our Partners in ‘hands on’ roles like this.

So what does it take to be a Lead Partner? We asked Nick Bedford, a long-time SVP Partner, Lead Partner many times over – including former Lead Partner for recent alumni Investees Growing Chefs! and Yo Bro Youth Initiative – to share his thoughts and experience on this pivotal role.

Why are you a Lead Partner? 

For many reasons, but especially:

  • It’s fulfilling – you have a sense of making a difference, a sense of achievement
  • It’s a huge learning opportunity and provides real insight into the world of the possible!
  • It’s a great way to get involved, get your friends involved and give back

It comes down to identifying a cause or program you really believe in and then diving in! If you become a member of the Opportunities Committee and read a grant application that you believe in and feel you can really connect with – then seriously consider becoming a Lead Partner. It’s a great way to roll up your sleeves and make a real difference.

How did you first get involved as a Lead Partner?

When I was new to SVP, I joined the original grants committee (now the Opportunities Committee). This required reviewing grant applications and then attending a number of the follow-up meetings with applicants to better understand their needs, where SVP could help, and importantly, whether SVP was a good fit for them.

From the grants committee, I subsequently had the opportunity to join an experienced Investee Lead Partner, Alanna Donahue (now an SVP board member) as a Support Partner for a ‘winning applicant’, Night Hoops. This was a great way for me to learn from a mentor about charities first hand, how they operated, what was realistic to expect of them and importantly, realize the myriad number of ways in which it is possible to help them.

Can anyone be a Lead Partner? Do you need any special skills or experience?

Yes to the first question, no to the second. All you need to be a Lead Partner is enthusiasm, a positive attitude and the belief that an extra pair of hands can make a big difference to these programs which are often so under-resourced. Lead Partners do not work in isolation. There is a team of SVP resources literally at your fingertips and easily accessible through our Communities of Practice.

Communities of Practice help the organization meet Investee needs more efficiently. Partners who share a skill or interest are invited to join these communities to share their expertise and learn some new skills. Lead Partners can communicate their Investee’s needs either immediately to Gina, or via the Lead Partner Project Execution meetings, which meet quarterly to discuss Investee successes and challenges and provide support and advice. There is always our network to reach out to at any time.

Why is the Lead Partner role important? 

SVP differentiates itself by offering money, volunteer time and connections. It is the role of Lead Partners to ensure this happens and connect the Investee to all the resources that SVP has available and access to – the LP is the point person to communicate Investee needs with SVP. In other words, the Lead Partner is a conduit for information and what is possible to help solve the investee’s problems. For example, does the Investee need charitable status? We have Partners with legal connections to help with that. Strategic planning or budgeting and financial modelling? We have people for that. We also have partner resources to help with fund development, technology implementation, governance, and so many more talents within our group of partners or connected to it.

What can you expect if you’re a Lead Partner?

It shouldn’t be too time intensive. You’re a facilitator, not necessarily the implementer. You monitor progress and help keep the Investee on track. You have a relationship with the program executive director. You’re wearing two hats: in one, you support project implementation, and if there are issues, you’re there to understand and go back to SVP to see if there’s some way to help get them back on track; the other is sharing the Investee’s progress with SVP and making sure program commitments are being pursued.

I’m thinking I might like to join the Lead Partner team… what are my next steps?

Join the Opportunities Committee and as part of the committee, attend follow up meetings where you have an interest in an applicant’s program. If you like the program and the people involved, then put your name forward either as a Lead Partner or a Co-Lead Partner as your next step, and make a real difference!

For more information on Lead Partners and SVP engagement opportunities, please contact Gina.