Over the past two weeks, I’ve logged 6,100+ miles and met with 60+ IC-SVN members at four Meet & Greet socials while booking another one in Colorado in early August.
I was reminded of my own marriage as I traveled to meet with IC-SVN members in North Carolina, Philadelphia and New York. I witnessed excitement and warmth as I was welcomed into the new family, but I was also met with some questions and uncertainty about what the future holds for this “marriage” between IC-SVN. I truly believe that together IC-SVN is stronger and more impactful. No other organization in the social impact space can boast of 57 years of combined history leading the way. Many of the social impact organizations in existence today originated from or incubated IC or SVN, so this consolidation is a move towards the cohesion needed for even stronger growth in the space and for further impact on the global economy.
The most common question I have fielded at these socials has been, “How is the merger better for me as a member and how will it affect my services and experience?” As silly as it may seem, the answer reminds me of and is analogous to my husband Curt’s shirt wardrobe. When I met Curt, he was a single college student-athlete. He is a big guy (6’6”, 280 lbs.), so he went for comfort and simplicity. Most days, he wore “UCLA Football” tee shirts. There was one plaid shirt however that a fellow lineman had given him that was quite candidly rather unattractive: brown, black, and beige with several buttons missing and a few rips. Curt loved that shirt and wore it all the time. Seriously when I met him, his wardrobe consisted of little more than UCLA tees and this awful plaid shirt. Later, Curt discovered the joys of backyard grilling with this family and he fell in love with Hawaiian shirts; they came in large sizes and all colors. Later still as we launched a banking business, Curt became comfortable with the true business dress shirt. Interestingly, he still wears UCLA Football shirts all the time – some things never change.
The IC-SVN merger fits this analogy: there are some legacy services and historical traditions from each organization that will simply never change. IC is strong in its practical application of bringing investors and entrepreneurs together in a diligent way that grows the social impact space. SVN is known for having a national voice and being strong with culture and peer groups, strengthening community relationships and messaging. These legacy foundational qualities are like Curt’s UCLA Football shirts that will never go away and will be rediscovered and grown into newer and more impactful applications over the coming years but all attempts will be made to retain the legacy.
As with any marriage or merger, there are simply some things that must go in order to move forward. These are Curt’s “plaid shirts”. I finally placed that plaid shirt from his bachelor days into a bin for charity and he actually pulled it out, wanting to hang on to it. He eventually saw the reasoning behind being able to buy newer shirts that were just as comfortable but not old and tattered. Sometimes getting rid of the “plaid shirts” can be painful but ultimately finding the new items that are even better is rewarding and integral to progress. For IC-SVN, the “plaid shirts” reside more in technical, administrative, and back office functional applications. We are undergoing some needed housekeeping and a few things may need to be tossed out but only to improve member benefits going forward.
Finally, the future holds so much potential for the “Hawaiian and business shirts” which are those new benefits that will emerge from the shared strengths of the IC-SVN “marriage”. I am excited about new programs, partnerships, dialogues, business growth, and scalability within the social impact investing sector because of this merger — it is invigorating and energizing for me and the IC-SVN staff right now!
During the social gatherings thus far, I have been especially encouraged by the welcoming nature of the members who came out to meet me. I found each local network very different with a unique personality (not unlike children in the same family), each one fascinating and impressive. As we grow our network nationwide, my staff and I are committed to retaining the positive local network characteristics and will not disrupt anything that is of core value to its members. I also understand that members may continue to have questions and concerns. We are accessible to your feedback, ideas, comments, and questions (via direct email), and we will also continue to hold our online webinars and online platform via Slack. You can always reach me directly here.
I am committed to each and every IC-SVN member, and I will do everything within my position as Executive Director to allow IC-SVN to reach new heights. Blessings to you all, and I hope to see you in person and online soon.