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From the SV2 Team

August 1, 2014

Dear SV2 Partners, Grantees & Friends,

Design Thinking has been the "new normal" at SV2 this summer, with one productive, high-energy design session after another as we kick off strategic plan implementation. We have focused on topics such as refreshed Grant Rounds, new Lightning Grant Rounds, our first-ever Collaboration Platform, and learning about impact investing. Read more below and see our design session "photo albums" to the right. RSVP to join our upcoming design sessions related to performance measurement. Dear SV2 Partners, Grantees and Friends,

We also have been busy welcoming new leadership and talent.  Partners Lucy DonovanShalyn Eason, and Nancy Lue have joined the SV2 board of directors and jumped right in, including to help lead SV2's design work this summer. SV2 also welcomes Ashley Clark as Communications and Program Manager. Ashley will strengthen SV2's ability to support the recent rapid growth of our Partnership, improve crucial community-wide communications, and enable other team members to focus on key strategic plan initiatives related to their work, including our renewed emphasis on supporting Grantees. In addition, we welcome Carrie Boyle to our team as Operations Coordinator, following the great contributions of Christine Rasmussen who has moved on to seek her next career adventure. Below we give you a peek at some of what's in store this fall. Mark your calendars now!

Below we give you a peek at what to expect as we look forward to the fall. 

With excitement,

Team SV2  

Grant Round Refresh [Alison Elliot] 

How might we streamline the SV2 Grant Round process while still maintaining quality and flexibility? How might we better support Grant Round Leaders? How might we facilitate group grant-making decisions that explicitly consider both objective and subjective factors in a balanced way?

These are just a few of the questions that emerged this summer as a group of SV2 Partners applied design thinking to refresh the SV2 Grant Round process, work that I co-led with SV2 staff and two dynamic facilitators with Stanford backgrounds - Shilpa Sarkar and Partner Zach D'Angelo. We used a design-thinking framework to take into account a range of perspectives and experiences from both Partners and grant applicants. We are excited to pilot some of the ideas that emerged.

Participants in the design work began by interviewing each other about Grant Round experiences, then fanned out to hear the stories of other Grant Round participants.  We spoke with new Partners as well as Partners with years of Grant Round experiences.  We interviewed Grant Round Leaders and the Executive Directors of past Grant Round applicants.  Finally, we brought all of these stories and impressions to an all-day working session.

The insights we gained and the ideas we generated were rich with potential for positive improvements to SV2’s process.  For example, we realized the benefit of making the process more transparent for applicants as well as Partners, and we saw an opportunity to consider piloting a two-phase process in which Partners could volunteer to work in advance of a Grant Rounds’ kickoff to identify a sub-topic for the Round and surface a pool of applicants.

Not surprisingly, we had more ideas than we immediately can pursue, but staff worked to synthesize the ideas and identify a few high-potential next steps, which include:

  • A refreshed Grant Round Guide for Grant Round Leaders and Partners
  • An Applicant Guide, and
  • A Partner-designed decision-making rubric for comparing applicants and weighing objective and subjective factors

We look forward to a piloting some refreshed tools and approaches in the coming year and to continued engagement with Partners and applicants on this topic.

An Engaging Year Ahead 


SV2's strategic plan and summer design work is informing a fantastic year ahead of grant-making, beyond-the-dollars engagement, and Grantee and Partner learning programs.  

First, save the date for an informal end-of-summer SV2 Grantee/Partner Mixer on September 4 from 5:30 to 8:00pm at SV2.  You can drop in and deepen relationships across our community while rubbing shoulders with our rockstar Grantees. Our not-to-be-missed Annual Gathering of Givers on October 22 6:00-8:30pm will include an update on the state of SV2, spotlight on our newest Grantees, plus laughter, lively conversation and libations.

We look forward to kicking off two Grant Rounds in September and October.  Based on Partner and board input, we will work together on an International Grant Round led by Partners Michelle LaVally and Jill Matzke, and on an Education Grant Round led by Linda Burt and Mark Wilson. To capitalize on the palpable Partner energy around new Grantee The Big Lift the Education Grant Round will focus on the four levers of impact targeted by The Big Lift to improve third grade reading levels - early education, parent engagement, summer learning, and attendance. 

On the international front, some adventuresome SV2 Partners are Rwanda-bound on our pilot, Partner-powered International Immersion Trip this October. You can still sign up before August 15th. Details here.

Also in the fall, we will launch educational sessions on impact investing with the goal of supporting interested Partners and Grantees in learning about this rapidly evolving arena. During the fall phase, we aspire to build a shared level of understanding about impact investing across the SV2 community in anticipation of further scaling our impact both as individuals and as a network. After this learning phase, a set of Partners will come together to determine potential next steps for SV2 in these new waters. Impact investing is a complex endeavor.  As one impact investing expert summed it up: "The more you wade into it, the more you realize how complicated it is."  W
e are excited about exploring and learning together.

Program pilots will continue in the spring as well, when we test drive SV2's first Ligntning Grant Round, which will be led by board member, Shalyn Eason. The goals of the Lightning Grant Round include making SV2 programming more accessible to an even more diverse set of Partners (including busy professionals) and expanding Partners' grantmaking toolkits.

More to come, including "short form" learning and dialogue opportunities a la First FridaysGrantee Field Trips, and other skill-building workshops. We'll share dates for these and other opportunities soon!

Through SV2 I learn more about philanthropy, gain exposure to local and national nonprofits, and meet other people with similar values and passions. 

Emily Wu,
SV2 Partner



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