Stacey Choe — Venture philanthropy in practice

choe_300The AVPN Conference is back for a third year with “Venture Philanthropy in Practice”, a 3-day event that will welcome delegates from a 180+ member network comprised of venture philanthropy organizations, impact investment funds, private equity, wealth management, and academic and grantmaking institutions, to advance the practice of venture philanthropy in Asia. We asked Stacey Choe, member services director at AVPN, to give us a conference preview and talk about the network’s new Capability Development Model for the social investing community, a tool it hopes will also speak to organizations who aren’t yet fully familiar with the venture philanthropy concept.

WINGS: The AVPN conference in April will center on your new Capability Development Model. What is it and who can use it?

Stacey Choe: The capability development model is a kind of organizational development road map. It allows organizations or members to identify what they are doing with their philanthropy practices, so it will be mainly separated into five verticals: 1. pre-engagement processes: by doing due diligence, doing research, assessing your org’s strengths and interests; 2. capacity building, for social orgs; 3. impact assessment, including SROI, 4. portfolio management; and 5. multi-sector collaboration.

The idea behind this Capability Development Model is that for each of these verticals, you have different areas of efficiency and effectiveness — let’s say areas 1 to 6. As an organization you can locate yourself in one area of this model, to see where you are along your venture philanthropy journey. For example, if you see impact assessment in your organization as existing in area 1, but you feel it could be optimised, you can find resources in your area that help you improve. Of course, you can also approach us. We have a pool of experts amongst our community in this area who can mentor you so you can level up. We hope this will help the community as a whole to increase effectiveness in channeling resources to the social missions we are all here to serve.

WINGS: What can attendees expect from this year’s conference?

SC: All of the sessions will be broken down into these different principles, so it’s almost like a crash course on the Capacity Development Model. You’ll leave with a better understanding of what venture philanthropy means in practice, and also how it relates to what you’re currently doing. We realize that many traditional foundations or other corporates don’t necessarily identify with venture philanthropy, but they are already doing different aspects of it. This gives us a chance to engage with them more, and they’ll be able to relate to us better.

We have a members-only day on 20th April that will run country tracks. AVPN members will talk about what’s happening within the social investing landscape in their country. Days 2 and 3 are the main conference. For this we’re ramping up our investment showcase, which was very popular last year. About 16 organizations will get to pitch to the delegation. We reserved the last day for organizations that want to leverage on our delegates to organize fringe events. We already have confirmed an event for GSEN (Global Social Entrepreneurship Network), and smaller private events.

WINGS: How will AVPN’s new website facilitate venture philanthropy education and practice?

SC: The new website is a work in progress. Once it’s fully functional, members will have access to general resources in each practice area of the Capability Development Model. It will also allow members to communicate with each other in a more targeted way. With the new website they can set up different sector/interest groups (e.g. education, environment, clean energy) and discussion groups where they can post and talk to each other and find others who share specific interests.

On top of that we’ll be able to filter through their interests in such a way that the website will aggregate the information from our members and the wider community, so if for example you’re interested in children and education in Asia, you will be shown information specific to that when you log in.

The AVPN Conference 2015 will be held on 21-22 April 2015 in Singapore. Early bird tickets are available now. More info at AVPN onlineMore WINGS interviews here.

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