The relationships that SVP Waterloo Region builds with our investee charities are unique and unmatched within the local philanthropic community. They are true partnerships that grow and evolve over multiple years. Our network of diversely skilled and experienced Partners pool their time, talent, and financial resources to help our investees address current challenges and build towards the future.
Lead Partners play an essential role in cultivating and maintaining the relationships between the SVP Partner network and our investees. We pair Lead Partners with each of our investee charities and these passionate individuals work with the investees as liaisons and advisors, meeting with the charity’s staff to determine areas of need and projects that would benefit from SVP assistance. Using that information, Lead Partners then collaborate with SVP staff to leverage the skills of the Partner network, matching Partners with relevant expertise and interest to Investee projects. Lead Partners remain involved with our Investees throughout their partnership term with SVP, staying up to date on all projects, being there as a familiar face for investee leadership and staff, and keeping everything moving forward.
When we asked current and past Lead Partners about what they gained from volunteering, the answer often came back to the learning experience; specifically, being able to get an intimate perspective of the needs and challenges of a charity and those they serve in the community. Often, the role of Lead Partner is a natural next step for Partners that have participated in the Investment Committee or Perfect Pitch and want to work more closely with an organization or issue that they are passionate about.
“I am a hands-on person, so it’s been a great experience to be able to get involved and get a better understanding of Reception House as an individual charity, what they are doing in the Region, and what their challenges are,” shared Allyson Kroetsch, SVP Lead Partner with Reception House, our 2019 Investee. “What kinds of numbers are we looking at globally, how do these different organizations across Canada and around the world work together to support the people that are displaced, and how can Canada open our doors and welcome them?”
“CMHA is a large, complex organization that has a huge impact on the mental health and well-being of thousands of citizens in our communities. It was important for SVP to support such a critical element of our mental health
system and, in so doing, to provide opportunities for SVP partners to learn about the complexities and personal impact of mental health issues in our communities,” added Stephen Swatridge, SVP Lead Partner with the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington (CMHA–WW), SVP’s 2017 Investee.
Beyond a deeper insight into the local charitable sector, Lead Partners, both those newer to SVP and longer-tenured Partners, gained a greater understanding of the work SVP does and the impact of the partnership for our Investees. It has also been an opportunity for personal development, as many Lead Partners built on and developed new skills in the role.
“I quickly learned a lot about SVP, the work they do in our community, and the impact they have on the not-for-profit sector. I learned about my own knowledge gaps when it came to those areas. It was a fantastic learning experience,” said Jordan Moat of his time as a Lead Partner with CMHA–WW.
“I get to sit in on all these meetings and learn from all the projects they are going through. It has been a learning curve to dabble in all these areas,” shared Lina Caputo, SVP Lead Partner with Carizon Family and Community Services, SVP’s 2018 Investee. “There has been a lot of personal development in terms of my understanding of different areas within an organization.”
Lead Partners are never alone, as they traditionally work in pairs, with two Lead Partners being assigned to each Investee. They also enjoy tremendous support from the SVP Partner network along with SVP and Investee staff.
“The reason I said yes to becoming a Lead Partner was because Tracy [Elop, Carizon CEO] is so good [when it comes to working with us at SVP], Lina [Caputo] is a wonderful person to work with, and we were going to have a mentor in Alex Brown. I felt comfortable to do it, I like to volunteer time towards community projects, and this was a new area to get involved with,” explained Elly Yach, SVP Lead Partner with Carizon.
Allyson emphasized: “There hasn’t been a single time where we have asked Partners ‘Hey, can you help us with this?’ and the answer has been no. They are willing and happy to connect with calls, even if it is later in the evening because they are busy with whatever else is going on in life. It has been really uplifting to see the willingness of the partners to come together.”
Lina and Jordan acknowledged that they had come across a couple misconceptions about the role, but were quick to clear them up:
“I think people misunderstand the role of the lead partner, because I certainly did before I became one. I thought that I had to be the expert in all areas in order to help the investee, but I am really the liaison between the two organizations,” noted Lina.
Jordan added: “The biggest misconception is that you’re going to be on your own without support from SVP staff and Partners. Rose [Greensides, Executive Director of SVP Waterloo Region] was especially instrumental to our success, as was the rest of the SVP Partner network.”
Are you looking to take the next step in your philanthropy journey and learn more about the challenges facing Waterloo Region? We are actively looking for new Lead Partners (up to a three-year commitment) to work with our newly chosen Investee.
Whether you’re interested in becoming a Lead Partner or want to learn more about the unparalleled philanthropic impact you can make with SVP Waterloo Region, please reach out to our Executive Director, Rose Greensides. or check out our SVP – Lead Partner Roles 2020 to learn more.
Thank you to all of our SVP Partners who agreed to be interviewed for this article!
Blog by Mac Turchan, Marketing & Events Coordinator