Other Communities We're In:

SVP International

SVP Origin Story

Posted by andreabocking

It was 1994, and Paul Brainerd was out of a job.

He had just sold his software company, Aldus Corporation, to Adobe. PageMaker, the desktop publishing program his company created, had revolutionized printing and publishing – and left him an unexpected millionaire.

At 47, early retirement might have looked attractive to some, but Paul had other ideas. Drawing on a life-long passion for the environment, he toured the northwest, interviewing dozens of leaders in the field to figure out where he could have the greatest impact. A year later, Paul founded the Brainerd Foundation, as well as an environmental nonprofit.

paul brainerd

Not long after that, Paul began to realize that he was not the only person in his particular situation. The dot-com boom was in full swing, and Seattle was brimming with young, retired professionals who wanted to give back, but didn’t quite know how to go about it.

The wheels started turning. Paul invited colleagues, friends, and community members to discuss another idea – this one borne of the desire to get thousands more people highly engaged in philanthropy. These people would not just write checks. They would work shoulder-to-shoulder with nonprofits – using their professional skills to tackle Seattle’s most pressing problems.

“It’s not about charity,” Paul told Susan Byrnes of The Seattle Times. “This is a more engaged giving style. If it’s done right, both sides end up with more in the end.”

More than a hundred people showed up for that first meeting, and in 1997 Paul – along with Seattle business leaders Scott Oki, Ida Cole, Bill Neukom and, Doug and Maggie Walker – founded Social Venture Partners.

In November of 2010, Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region was founded by local venture capitalists Jacqui Murphy and Tim Jackson.  Introduced to SVP by Rosemary Smith of the KW Community Foundation, Jacqui and Tim quickly fell in love with the SVP model after a trip to Dallas to learn more about its positive impact on other communities.

“The SVP model of providing grants plus volunteer time and talent is a perfect fit for Waterloo Region’s barn raising spirit where we can bring together the strong business sector with the strong nonprofit sector,” said SVPWR co-founder Tim Jackson.

“We have a groundswell of people throughout this community doing really cool things with SVP.  Everyone from senior executives to your next door neighbor is pitching in to provide opportunities for children in Waterloo Region,” SVPWR co-founder Jacqui Murphy commented.

Since then SVPWR has grown to include 60 Partners. There are organizations like ours in over 30 cities throughout North America, Japan, and India and our international network is more than 2700 people strong.