SDSVP Stategic Planning Meeting, May 10, 2008

SDSVP conducted a fascinating offsite meeting last Saturday. In attendance were most of the SDSVP Board and a handful of other interested Partners. The meeting was facilitated by Stan Pappelbaum who sits on the SDSVP Board. He did an excellent job of remaining as the facilitator even though he has strong opinions on many SDSVP issues. He started the meeting out with a great exercise. Each participant has a few minutes to speak about whatever they want. There are no questions or interactions between participants. Everyone is supposed to listen carefully to each statement. For me, this was a wonderful way to hear everyone’s point of view, especially the quieter people. The following was what I wanted to say at the offsite. The condensed version is 1) Great Mission 2) Powerful Values 3) Need to create a long term Vision Statement to help guide SDSVP.

The SDSVP Mission is wonderful collections of words that provide focus to this organization.

SDSVP cultivates effective philanthropists and drives community solutions through investments of time, expertise and resources. About a year ago the words “drive community solutions through investments of time, expertise and resources” were crafted into the mission. Each word is powerful. SDSVP does not just exist, it “drives”. Even though SVP is a global organization, SDSVP is focused on San Diego. All partners participate in “time, expertise and resources”. It is a magnificent phrase of inclusion. All partners fill this bill, from the so-called un-involved partners with their gift of resource aka money, to the so-called work horse partners. This phrase is truly a magnificent phrase of inclusion.

The recent addition of “cultivates effective philanthropists” into the Mission reinforces SDSVP with an added responsibility of education. The words also imply that SDSVP needs to do more than educate philanthropists. SDSVP is responsible for providing the opportunity to grow philanthropists, with the ultimate outcome not being just a philanthropist, but an effective philanthropist. This is very powerful.

SDSVP also has a very powerful set of values. The values also present many questions.

1) Sustainability – We believe San Diego Social Venture Partners should be part of the long-term solutions for our community. How do we accomplish this? An Endowment? A special nurturing program for long term Partners? By continual feeding SDSVP with new Partners? How do we allocate our resources to these pieces? What is the proper mix?

2) Accountability – We believe in monitoring and measuring results. We monitor and measure others. Is our measurement process appropriate? Do we measure enough or not enough?

3) Innovation – We believe in challenging the status quo and taking calculated risks to try out innovative ideas. EAF and the Equinox Center are excellent examples of innovation. How do we best encourage innovation? How do we cultivate and seek it out?

4) Leadership – We believe in creating the organization that we expect of others. What do we expect of other non-profits that we don’t expect of ourselves? How much courage is required to be a true leader? How do we nurture our own courage?

5) Education – We believe in providing continual philanthropic educational opportunities and sharing best practices. How important is education to SDSVP? How much money and time are we willing to spend? What does the partnership want?

6) Respect – We believe in treating each other and our Investees with respect. What is respect? How does respectful behavior play out in SDSVP?

These are just a few questions that these values evoke. As for the answers, there are many. Our job as leaders of SDSVP is not to answer all the questions. As leaders we need to only answer the most important ones and leave the rest for later.

All of these questions lead to a new set of questions around our vision. What is SDSVP’s vision? As an organization that has Leadership as a value, we have a responsibility to come up with that vision. The Mission is what we are. The Values are how we act or behave. The Vision is where we are going. Let’s answer that question. Let’s put a stake in the ground and create a future Vision. Who will we be in 5 years? Who will we be in 10 years? And a really scary question is who we will be in 50 years when many of us are no longer around. Defining this, defines leadership.

To conclude, SDSVP is a great organization. This room is filled with great Partners. I am honored to be a Partner. I am humbled to be Chairman.

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