Social Venture Partners Conference: A Best Kept Secret?

Most philanthropy conferences target professional grantmakers. Even events like SoCap, which attracts a diverse group of people, mostly brings in people whose job intersects with philanthropy and social investing. But there’s not too many conferences that cater to major donors.

But there is one. Unfortunately, most people think they can’t attend. This conference is the best kept secret in philanthropy!

Did you know the Social Venture Partners International conference is open to the public? Unlike most membership organization conference, which are for members only, the SVP conference is open and an excellent event for major donors.

This year the conference is taking place from October 22-24 in Dallas. Speakers include Andy Goodman author of Storytelling as Best Practice (Andy gets the value of narrative to the social sector at a deep level) and Melinda Tuan author of a recent Gates Foundation report on measuring social value creation. I’ll be leading two of the breakout session.

Non-SVP members can use the discount code “tactical” when registering to receive $50 off. Click here to register.

I think SVP is a really important organization. The timing of this conference comes at an interesting time. SVP has just released a report on the outcomes they are producing in service of their mission: Philanthropy Development and Capacity Development.

Their new report finds that:

  • Partners’ giving increases because of SVP.
  • Partners give more strategically because of SVP.
  • Partners are more involved in the community because of SVP.
  • The longer a partner is involved in SVP, the larger the changes in all three outcomes.

Self reported outcome data is great. But external reports have added credibility when they are available. So it is interesting to see a report from the The Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy at University of Southern California comment on SVP. Researcher Michael Moody’s report titled Becoming a Venture Philanthropist: A Study of the Socialization of Social Venture Partners found that:

The results provided strong evidence that involvement with SVP has the intended effects on individual partners. SVP socialization has an impact on partners’ giving behavior, practices, and knowledge. Moreover, the influence of SVP appears to become more pronounced both as partners become involved in more SVP activities and as they serve as partners for a longer time.

Wow. SVP is offering externally evaluated, effective donor education. They offer an inexpensive conference that’s open to the public. Plus the post conference happy hours are a lot more fun than the typical philanthropy conference where all the professional grantmakers hurry off to check their email!

Hope to see you in Dallas! Register here and don’t forget to use the discount code “tactical”.


  1. SaraJoy Pond says:

    Thanks for the post. Sounds like a fantastic opportunity! Especially to bring the on-the-ground practitioner [in my case start-up social entrepreneur] voice into the conversation. Unfortunately, in my case even $50 off $575 puts it a little out of my price range. The ticket purchasing site stated the range as “free-$575″… I know some conferences let people like me volunteer extra time at the conf. in exchange for a ticket or even offer scholarship/sponsored slots. Do you know of anything like this for SVP?

  2. SaraJoy – SVPI does have a few volunteer spots available at the conference. Send me an email at and I’d be happy to forward you the details.

    Aya Burgess
    Conference Coordinator
    Social Venture Partners International

  3. Michael Moody says:

    I’d second this recommendation of the SVPI conference. The subjects of the smaller sessions, like the keynotes, are of great use not only to people working in organizations like SVPs (and there are a growing number of those people) but also folks from organizations and roles of all different sorts. These breakouts have topics like: how to engage and educate new donors, how to make local collaborations among nonprofits more effective, how to develop advocacy programs, that sort of thing. Very practical and innovation-minded, like SVPs in general.

    And you just might meet people there that you know from the internet–like I met a certain writer and philanthropic advisor last year–and discover they are nice guys. So nice they’ll even link to your research reports in their blogs. (Thanks, Sean.)

  4. Thanks for the endorsement Michael. It was good to meet you there last year as well!