Social Venture Partners Charlotte – 10 Years Out
When we began this experiment in 2005, none of us could have expected that venture philanthropy would attract such a large following in Charlotte, NC. After all it was a “West Coast thing” that surely would take decades to catch on in the South. SVP’s success is a great testament in who we are as a community, and to the guiding hands of our leaders.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank Susan Daniel who has guided the ship for the past 7 years. She has been a tireless, relentless and focused leader despite having extremely limited resources. We never could have gotten this far without her steady hand and positive attitude.
Next, I need to give a huge shout out to our founding partners who had faith in an untested concept and faith in our collective ability to succeed. Their last names are Beam, Crutchfield, Elliott, Harrell, Lash, Marshall, Miller, Murphy, Pineno, Sprinkle, Stump, Vagt, Winget and Young. Without their initial investment, leadership and advocacy, we would have never gotten this effort off the ground.
As I try to make sense of our success, I have concluded that SVPC’s key success factors are our integrity, curiosity, honesty, tenacity, humility and leadership. I know of no other nonprofit that has all of these qualities.
Our Integrity is defined by our fidelity to the venture philanthropy model. We are diligent about focusing on our brand of philanthropy and engagement. We have a special focus on results, outcomes and impact. Working as a team of committed individuals, we put aside our personal egos and agendas. Resisting the urge to broaden our focus has been a source of our strength.
Our Curiosity is exemplified by our courage to think big and take risks. Our Partners stay engaged because we pursue their interests and passions.
Our Honesty comes from our commitment to admit our failures and assess our efforts without placing blame or offering excuses. Daring to take measured risks, we have been quick to identify and admit our mistakes. We have been adaptable in order to find the best formulas for success and have sought to scale what we find to work.
Our Tenacity is evident in that we are willing to ask tough questions and peel the onion until the truth emerges. This work is difficult, but we know the answers and solutions can be found.
Our Humility is exemplified by the fact that we do not market ourselves. We market our successes and give credit to our Partners and Investees, lifting them up to the community.
Our Leadership has been critical to our success beginning with our Board members who were lead by Mike Elliott, Debbie Darden, Blanton Hamilton and Reid Leggett. We have also been fortunate to have competent leaders at our committee levels and with all of our special programs and projects. This has truly been a democratic and group effort.
My hope is that we continue to stay true to who we are. We need to continue to challenge the status quo and advocate for those that this community is leaving behind. We need to speak truth to power and encourage government, nonprofits and funders to raise their expectations of what is possible.
My primary regret is that we did not fail more. Yes, we had failures due to investing in the wrong strategy or the wrong individuals. But we would have learned more had we failed more. Going forward we need to take greater risks and fail forward more often.
The secrets to our success in the next decade are grounded in our past. We must maintain our uniqueness and focus only on our brand of philanthropy as the pull toward mediocrity is difficult to resist in the nonprofit world.
We need to listen more to the youth and adapt to the needs and practices of those coming behind us. We need to continue to stay on the cutting edge of philanthropic practices and maximize the use of technology to accomplish our goals.
If not us, who? If not now, when? Here’s to the next 10!