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Meet Darcy Brownell of Social Venture Partners Boston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Darcy Brownell.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Before joining Social Venture Partners, I spent most of my career working in children’s literacy organizations. My first job out of college was as a children’s book buyer, and I loved it. I got to meet a lot of my favorite authors and I encountered children coming into bookstores and being able to walk out with stacks of brand new books. But I quickly realized what I really wanted to do was provide that same experience to all children, regardless of family income. That led me to graduate school and then into the nonprofit sector.

I joined Social Venture Partners two years ago. What drew me to the organization was the venture philanthropy model and the capacity building approach. Social Venture Partners is a diverse community of leaders who have come together to pool their resources and invest them in carefully selected nonprofits. Our members provide more than just financial support, they also give their time and their expertise to help these nonprofits grow. I had run a small nonprofit here in Boston and I knew how unique and valuable that type of support could be.

Has it been a smooth road?
I have been fortunate and the road has been relatively smooth, but I did run a small nonprofit organization during the financial crisis. That was challenging at times. The resources available to support our programs were dwindling at the very same time that the need for our services was growing, all due to the recession. Our growth stalled during that time, but we rebounded and the organization is thriving today.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Social Venture Partners Boston – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Social Venture Partners Boston is a high-impact venture philanthropy organization helping great leaders build strong high
performing nonprofits. The Boston chapter is part of an international network of over 3,500 dedicated professionals in 40 cities around the world who are passionate about creating change in their communities.

Social Venture Partners helps people and businesses (“Partners”) realize greater impact with their giving, strengthen nonprofits, and invest in collaborative solutions — building powerful relationships to address the local community’s social challenges.

Central to the Social Venture Partners model is that Partners contribute more than just their money. They roll up their sleeves and work closely with the nonprofit organizations they support, giving their time and professional expertise to help them grow. We call our approach engaged philanthropy.

Since we were founded in 2002, Social Venture Partners Boston has supported over 20 of Boston’s most promising nonprofits with nearly $5million in cash grants and pro bono services.

We carefully select small and mid-sized nonprofits with demonstrated impact, and the potential to have much more, and we infuse them with greatly needed resources—human and financial—to enable them to grow and deepen their impact. This type of engaged philanthropy leads to some pretty impressive results. The nonprofits supported by SVP Boston grow 4 times as quickly as their peer organizations.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I grew up here and I love Boston. Professionally, this is an amazing place for social impact work. There is an incredibly rich ecosystem of organizations committed to improving our communities and some of the top nonprofits in the country call Boston home.

If I had to pick something I like least about the city, I would say the wintertime, but even that isn’t so bad.

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