SVP Melbourne


Cheque giving to Good Cycles, the latest investee of SVP Melbourne. Good Cycles will receive funding support of $90,000 over three years from 2015.

A great way to mobilise funds, skilled volunteers and resources for the benefit of the community

Margi Olson, a business consultant and former Dean at McCallum Graduate School at Bentley University in Boston, shuttled between Boston and Melbourne. She was also active in Social Venture Partners (SVP)’s Boston chapter and saw the potential value that SVP model could bring to the Australia’s non-profit.

With her initiative, SVP Melbourne was started in 2013 with 10 founding partners. The target was to grow to 30 – 50 partners in three years. Each partner pledged an annual donation of AU$5,000 (US$4,400), which was more or less on par with the U.S. network’s practice. 

Catherina Toh, a lawyer to the financial services industry was the chapter’s founding chair. Catherina’s giving approach in the past was ad hoc rather than strategic. The venture philanthropy approach, which is at the heart of SVP practice, appealed to Catherina as it ‘values due diligence and an active contribution in kind, rather than just giving money.’ She saw values in the ‘opportunity to get involved with non-profits in a much more meaningful way, way beyond writing a cheque and not knowing what happened to the money.’

Another founding partner was Robert Broadbent, who was winding back from a full-time career that had spanned science, education and health policy. He was SVP Melbourne’s executive director during the critical establishment phase.

In terms of setting up, the founding partners decided not to operate SVP Melbourne as a sub-fund within a community foundation but to have a dual entity charitable legal status — The Social Venture Partners Australia Fund, a public ancillary fund, registered as a charity and able to receive tax deductible charitable donations, and Social Venture Partners Melbourne Limited, an operating company, registered as a charity but without charitable tax deduction status, for managing SVP operations and future investment activities. This structure gives SVP Melbourne maximum flexibility in operations and future growth and also enables a revolving pool of loan and equity capital to be set aside for impact investing and support to riskier, start-up non-profits that do not qualify for grants from the Fund.

Since founding, SVP Melbourne provides financial and/or in-kind support to 4 organisations as of October 2015, namely 100 Story Building, Kids Thrive, Good Cycles and I CAN Network. The organisations were chosen for their audacious, innovative and entrepreneurial solutions. Typically SVP Melbourne works with its grantees over a three year period to give time for its financial and skills commitments to have real sustained impact. It seeks to support its grantees on a sustainable growth path and to assist them to increase capacity and impact in the breadth of their outreach and the depth of their purpose.

SVP Melbourne has also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Newsboys Foundation to partner in supporting one non-profit on the SVP model where Newsboys provide the financial support and SVP the in-kind support. SVP Melbourne is working towards setting up this partnership in the first quarter of 2016.

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Cheque giving to Good Cycles, the latest investee of SVP Melbourne. Good Cycles will receive funding support of $90,000 over three years from 2015.