CINCINNATI – Chances are, you’ve never heard of Social Venture Partners Cincinnati.
And the local nonprofit organization wants to change that.
The small – but influential – group works with other nonprofit organizations in the area to help strengthen them. The local group is part of an international network of donors who also give their time and expertise to the charities they support.
For the partners, as they’re called, the goal is simple: “We want to change the world,” said Wijdan Jreisat, a partner at the Katz Teller law firm who chairs the local group.
She’s not kidding. The business people who become partners in the group are serious about the work they do. Donors can join individually or in “partner groups” of two people. Jreisat is part of a partner group with her husband, Patrick Points, a former IT consultant who is now an English professor at University of Phoenix. Other partner groups consist of parents and their children.
SVP Cincinnati has 25 partner groups, consisting of 40 people.
Each partner – or partner group – must make a tax-deductible donation of at least $6,000 per year and must commit to donating time and expertise, too. The group used to require a commitment of 100 volunteer hours per year, but Jreisat said the partners have learned to be more flexible.
“We really have come into it with a ‘no-guilt’ policy,” she said. “We’ll take you where you are in your life.”
The partners then decide which local nonprofit organizations to help. The nonprofits that are selected get a monetary donation – usually $20,000 per year – and help from the partners themselves over the three-year period that SVP Cincinnati works with them.
In its five-year history, SVP Cincinnati has invested in five nonprofits. Jreisat estimates the hours donated over those five years have been worth nearly $600,000.
SVP Cincinnati has completed work with The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati; Imago Earth Center in Price Hill and Gorman Heritage Farm.
And it’s currently working with Family Nurturing Center, which focuses on child abuse prevention and treatment, and Whole Again, which provides meals and enrichment services to needy children in the summer.
“Our services have grown, but our infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with that,” said Jane Herms, Family Nurturing Center’s executive director.
SVP Cincinnati is working with the center on seven major projects to update that infrastructure and make the nonprofit an employer of choice, Herms said.
The fact that SVP Cincinnati makes a three-year commitment and lets Family Nurturing Center decide what help it needs has been invaluable, she said.
“It’s really letting us be the judge of how to use that money,” Herms said.
SVP Cincinnati is poised to choose another nonprofit to invest in soon. Jreisat said that makes this the perfect time to become a new partner in the organization.
The organization had an event Thursday afternoon on Fountain Square to get out the word.
“The more people we can get involved, the more we can do,” Jreisat said before the event.
And at SVP Cincinnati, every partner makes a difference, said Sherman Bradley, the founder and CEO of a nonprofit called Consider the Poor, and an SVP Cincinnati partner.
“It’s a wonderful process of learning,” he said.
To better describe Social Venture Partners Cincinnati and how the group works, University of Cincinnati senior Neal Patrick created a video for the group, which was shown on the Fountain Square video screen Thursday.
Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=200pr_apJfQ to watch it.
To learn more about how to become a partner, go to http://www.socialventurepartners.org/cincinnati/ .