A Brief History of Social Venture Partners
The Social Venture Partners model was created in 1997, in Seattle, Washington, the inspiration and vision of Paul Brainerd, Aldus Corporation founder and president, and founding members Scott Oki, Ida Cole, Bill Neukom and Doug and Maggie Walker. Their vision was a philanthropic community that borrowed from venture capital practices and made highly engaged investments of money, resources and business expertise in local nonprofit organizations, with the aim of developing their capacity and sustainability.
At its core, venture philanthropy is aimed at strengthening and supporting the long-term capacity of a nonprofit to fulfill its mission, rather than funding short-term projects or programs.
Venture – or engaged philanthropy – focuses on building stronger management teams and boards, investing in outcome assessment, improving product and service quality and delivery, and other strategic ways to improve effectiveness and increase scale. It requires a high level of involvement from both parties – the philanthropist and the nonprofit. It’s a multi-year financial and human resource commitment and assumes there will be structural and attitudinal change within the nonprofit as a result of the relationship.
As of December 2011, there are 27 member organizations in the Social Venture Partner network and 2,165 individuals in the USA, Canada, India and Japan, who have contributed over $46 million (USD) in grants and thousands of strategic volunteering to 518 nonprofit organizations.
But Social Venture Partners has added an extra dimension. Just as important is the goal of educating and mobilizing Partners as a community of lifelong, informed, and inspired philanthropists.
As interest in this new approach to philanthropy grew, Social Venture Partners organizations modeled on SVP Seattle began developing throughout North America. By 2001, a loose network had formed, and Social Venture Partners International (SVPI) was created to support and advance this network.