Philanthropy can be bigger than sending checks to charities. But donors often struggle to figure out how to give more than money, especially when they have unique talents.

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Would you like to be a partner in Social Venture Partners? Contact Interim Executive Director Sierra Visher Kroha, to learn more at or visit the organization’s website.

Thanks to San Diego Social Venture Partners, aspiring and veteran philanthropists are learning more about the world of nonprofits and social change. And that’s not all: They’re giving back by sharing the knowledge and professional skills they’ve gained.

The two-pronged approach is unique: Teach donors about strategic giving, and match them with nonprofits that could use their expertise. Nonprofits also gain through donations from the donors, but the money is only part of the picture.

Investing with More than Money

“It ends up being a really meaningful experience on both sides,” Social Venture Partners Executive Director Lakshmi Paranthaman said. “We invest in the organizations we fund with pro bono consulting and make these great organizations stronger, more efficient, and more effective so that they, in turn, can help more people. Our willingness to work on the operational capacity of a nonprofit as opposed to solely funding programs is quite unique in the philanthropic community, and it’s more impactful.”

Local technology entrepreneur Chuck Wang, one of about 115 donors – known as “partners” – who make up Social Venture Partners, puts it this way: “We pool expertise and use it in a way to give nonprofits the knowledge to become sustainable over time. That’s how real change takes place.”

Sharing Know-How with Nonprofits

The recession battered Wang and left him wondering about bigger questions beyond searching for the next big sale. He felt a need to contribute to people’s lives, Wang recalls, but “I was at a loss about how I could do it.”

Then he went to a party, heard someone talking about Social Venture Partners, and wrangled an invite to an event. Then everything changed for this man searching for a way to give back.

Wang has found a way to restore value to his life, and local nonprofits are gaining expertise thanks to his generosity. He says he’s currently helping a nonprofit sell its digital coursework online.

“It’s not about you,” he said. “It’s about putting the most smiles you can on other people’s faces. I can’t put a price on that.”

Helping Nonprofits with Goal-Setting

Marty Goodman, a semi-retired entrepreneur, is another “partner” at San Diego Social Venture Partners.

“When I started out, I didn’t really know if my business skill sets would transfer to helping a nonprofit with anything,” he remembers.

His first lesson came at an event where he helped teach nonprofit employees about how to impress potential fundraisers in a 3-minute pitch.

“A lot of what they were pitching wasn’t fully on point for a funder audience; their strategy was off,” he recalled.

What they needed was a better understanding of how to quantify and express impact and out of that was born SVP’s Advance San Diego program, a fast-pitch competition for mission-driven organizations.

Now he’s using his background as a businessman with an intense understanding of the importance of goals to help a foster youth organization develop an annual plan with quarter-by-quarter objectives.

In all, he’s been able to accomplish much more than he would have by simply giving money. He now serves on the board of directors for Social Venture Partners International, which supports 39 SVP affiliates around the world.

“It’s great to be able to see firsthand the type of change you can make,” Goodman said.

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