Arizona.  Boston.  Boulder.  British Columbia.  Cleveland.  Dallas.  Pittsburgh. Portland.   San Diego.  Seattle.  Silicon Valley.  St. Louis.

And Calgary.

It’s amazing to look at this list.  For 10 years, these cities have been investing in their communities, engaging new folks into the field of philanthropy, and advancing social change.  The SVP movement is not one that has been hidden behind the walls of one institution, it is not one that has required only one benefactor, and it is not one that has relied on the success of one person.

This feeling was palpable at last week’s SVP International conference in Long Beach.  To say “I wish you were there” is an enormous understatement.  The next decade is being prototyped.

Over ten years, SVP has cut a path for the largest donor network in the world.   Armed with clippers, scythes, and axes – the Partners of the past ten year blazed a trail that had not yet existed.   In their own cities, Partners  gathered together to educate themselves on social needs and support the capacity of local organizations.

This can not be said too lightly, actually I’d like to shout from the rooftop (towards other funders in our city)

SVP Partners supported capacity building!

Ten years ago this type of funding was ground-breaking, revolutionary.  And amazingly, it still is.  A majority of funders have not quite gotten the message that program funding is not enough.  Ten years on, SVP is still educating other funders about why capacity building is so crucial.

Yet, even with SVP successes – no decade is without its challenges.  And affiliates have seen them all.  From the early questions of what to fund and how to partner – to the later questions of financial sustainability and new horizons, affiliates (and the network as a whole) have wrestled with how to do the best work possible.  And from this, we all evolved.

Today is no different, affiliates and the network face big questions.  Perhaps the biggest of them all – “What is our collective dream?”

To answer this biggie and in preparation for our 10th year, the Board and Staff have spent time to answer two smaller questions – how can we involve more participants in our work & how can we stay innovative in our funding.  After a ton of work, we have a framework.

We’re calling it Decision First, perhaps for no better reason than its not decision-last.  This new framework immediately gives space for the Partnership to the question – what is our dream?

Arizona has said their dream is to help a local high school to get back on track and they’re bringing the resources of their Investees into the school.  Dallas has shown that their dream is to foster social innovation through new collaborations of funding and growing networks in Northern Texas.  British Columbia is dreaming up how to lead Canada in social enterprise funding.  Seattle has been dreaming about how to advocate for early education for 0-5 in Washington State.

And the dreams go on and on.

The Decision First framework asks:

  • What is Calgary’s dream?
  • What are the criteria Partners need to set to get us there?
  • Which organizations, which projects can we proactively find, fund, and support to achieve our dream?
  • Who can we invite to come along side of us – to make our dream a reality?

Trust me, after leaving Long Beach my mind was swirling in the possibility.  And it is immense.   But the roots of SVP are local – and its now time for Calgary’s Partnership to define its dream.   The sky is the limit.

Bring your voice to SVP Calgary’s 10 Year celebration & AGM on November 4.  The next decade begins now.

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