Collaborating for the Greater Good
Meristem is proud of our long-standing support of Social Venture Partners (SVP). SVP is a global network of business leaders who align passion and purpose to support models and people through SVPs network of nonprofits. SVP works to strengthen nonprofits and equips our communities to tackle our greatest social challenges – by combining business leaders and promising nonprofits – together. The SVP movement took off in 1997 because it offered a unique opportunity for people to come together and make a difference in their communities. The message flew from city to city and country to country, eventually bringing Meristem to SVP Minnesota as a corporate sponsor.
The Need Gap
Charlie Maxwell, Meristem’s founder and CEO, learned about the Social Venture Partners model as an individual investor. He enjoyed investing on a personal level and used his professional skills to help identify and scale the most promising nonprofits for SVP to step alongside in the metro area. As CEO, Charlie had a talented pool of employees who were volunteering in various ways. Charlie wanted his staff to have skills-based volunteer opportunities similar to those available thorough SVP, so he began to investigate the benefits of corporate sponsorship.
Filling the Need Gap
Charlie worked with SVP’s Executive Director to design and launch SVP’s Corporate Partner Program in late 2011. He shared SVP’s passion for helping underserved teens and SVP’s creed of “engaged philanthropy” which encompasses giving, not only money but one’s time and talent to improve the community. For Meristem, “engaged philanthropy” supports the community, facilitates the development of the next generation of leaders, helps retain employees, and brings the firm together for a worthy cause.
Since forming a corporate sponsorship with SVP, Meristem’s employees have served on various SVP teams. Those teams have helped SVP build capacity to increase impact and add more nonprofits to the SVP portfolio. Other teams have allowed Meristem employees to partner deeper with SVP nonprofits in building capacity and growth.
Some of the SVP capacity building efforts Meristem employees have contributed to include:
- Serving on the SVP Board of Directors
- Participation on the SVP Investment Committee
- Participation on the SVP Development Committee
- Assisting in the design of the SVP Rising Leaders Program
- Hosting SVP recruiting events
- Hosting SVP team/committee meetings at Meristem
- Analysis of SVP’s business pricing model
Examples of employees serving on SVP’s nonprofit portfolio include:
- Serving as an active member of the grants committee, including determining if nonprofit applicants are at a “point of inflection” and working toward site visits
- Helping to design and implement workshops for nonprofits
- Serving as a “lead partner” with Breakthrough Twin Cities over a three year period. During the 3 year period, Breakthrough TC grew 2X as measured by the number of teens served
- Meristem worked directly with an organization that helps homeless youth in Minneapolis called Full Cycle. Full Cycle is a nonprofit bicycle shop in Minneapolis that employs and trains homeless youth specifically by teaching bike repair and business skills. Full Cycle sells used bikes and bike parts and provides repair services which support a better future and a life off the street for kids who have nowhere else to turn.
- The Meristem team, together with Full Cycle and SVP-MN, created pro-forma financial statements and a prospectus for a three-year growth plan and capital campaign for Full Cycle. These materials helped win a large grant for Full Cycle; a full three-year, $350,000 grant with no matching requirement. This is a huge success story for Meristem, SVP-MN and Full Cycle and the power of partnership.
- 25% of Meristem’s employees have engaged in SVP
- Ten employees have used their skills to help SVP and it’s investees scale
- Two employees have served on SVP’s Board of Directors
- Ten employees have served on committees and teams (which are action oriented!)