SVPI Conference 2008

The model of San Diego Social Venture Partners is truly amazing. I hear the statistics of the incredible leverage that our dollars produce. I hear the feedback from the investees about the amazing value of our time, expertise and recourses. I hear the stories from our investees and how lives are being changed. Now multiply that by 25 cities and you get more than 2,000 dedicated individuals, giving more than $26.5 million in grant investments to more than 300 non-profit organizations. I just spent a few days at the Social Venture Partners International Conference in Cleveland, Ohio and I am more passionate than ever!

The night before the conference started, we partied at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. The museum, in itself, was cool enough, but that was nothing compared to the live band that played for the guests. Our own SDSVP Partners Ray and Kim McKewon flew out to join in the one and only performance of Limited Capacity, a pick up band of SVPers. They ROCKED!

In addition to Ray and Kim, other SDSVP attendees were Alan and Louarn Sorkin, Peggy Kidd, and Mandy Sherlock. The conference started out with a keynote from John Wood. This former Microsoft executive founded Room to Read, an organization that has helped more than 1.7 million children across the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the power of education. He inspired the two hundred attendees from the US, Canada and Japan. Stephen Lewis, the former Special Envoy to the UN Secretary-General and current co-director of AIDS-Free World, provided the other keynote. He spoke about Africa, AIDS, sexual violence, death and luckily hope. Simply put, he numbed the room.

There were breakout sessions ranging from how to measure, govern, plan and collaborate in the non-profit world. For me, the best part was hearing the innovative practices from other SVP chapters. The advocacy initiative in the Seattle Chapter is fascinating and makes so much sense. If SVP is going to create social/sector change, which is a fairly common vision for all the chapters, advocacy is a powerful tool to use.

SDSVP’s reputation is known throughout the chapters. Partners from around the SVP network wanted to know how we are able to continue to grow our organization. They wanted to know about our Environmental Accelerator Fund (EAF) and the new Equinox Center. They wanted to know how we get so many volunteer hours donated. They wanted to know how we have such great social events. My answer is always the same. SDSVP has smart, kind and great Partners who believe in giving back!

I hope to see at the 2009 SVPI Conference in Dallas Texas on October 16 and 17. I hear the first night might be a hoedown. Think the McKewon do hoedowns?

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