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Wise Investments

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Social Venture Partners Charleston is working closely with Reading Partners, which places volunteers in low-income schools to help kids master basic reading. Photograph courtesy of Reading Partners

September 27, 2017

Wise Investments
What do you get when some of the brightest, most successful folks in town team up to give back? Philanthropy at its finest—and most effective


Written by Molly Ramsey

In October 2015, four area nonprofits took the stage at The American Theater to pitch their missions to an audience buzzing with excitement. They were primed, practiced, and hopeful—gunning for a grand prize of $20,000. The occasion? Fast Pitch Charleston: a take on ABC’s Shark Tank that was hosted, mentored, and sponsored by Social Venture Partners (SVP) Charleston in 2014 and 2015. Next month, the group delivers another round.

Founded in 2009 as Charleston Philanthropic Partners, the nonprofit is now an arm of SVP International, which exists to connect philanthropists (dubbed “partners”) with nonprofits making a measurable impact in their communities. “Our partners come from a wide range of professional backgrounds,” says SVP Charleston chairman Joe DeGroff, a retired lawyer. “But we are all looking to commit our time, treasure, and talent in meaningful ways.”

Indeed, the 38 SVP Charleston members roll up their sleeves to help carefully vetted nonprofits—such as The Sustainability Institute and South Carolina Community Loan Fund—solve problems, increase efficiency, and reach goals. “A nonprofit might not have the expertise on its staff to deal with a particular issue, but we often do within our ranks, so we can deploy that intellectual leadership,” DeGroff explains. Pair that with the group’s financial investments—it has funneled $800,000 into local nonprofits since 2010—and it’s a recipe for true impact.

“Their guidance was invaluable,” confirms Lauren Herterich, executive director of Chucktown Squash, which won 2015’s Fast Pitch. In addition to receiving grant money, the nonprofit serving disadvantaged youth is working with SVP Charleston on a rebrand launching this fall. “They helped us think critically about our organization and how to most effectively talk about our work,” says Herterich.

On October 11, watch a fresh crop of nonprofits vie for the Fast Pitch prize at Woolfe Street Playhouse. To find out more, click here.

To read more from our September issue, click here.