054: Building Capacity in Your Organization with Jennifer Gleason of SVP PHL

THE SELF MADE STRATEGIES EPISODE WITH JENNIFER GLEASON

SVP PHL specifically helps those out to do good, do better, bringing together donors, nonprofits, and social enterprises so we can all make a greater collective impact. SVP Philadelphia cultivates effective philanthropists, strengthens nonprofits, and invests in collaborative solutions, building powerful relationships to tackle our community’s social challenges.

Jennifer Gleason is the managing director of Social Venture Partners, Philadelphia, a role in which she is charged with leading the launch of this transformational new initiative. Earlier in her United Way career, she oversaw capacity building initiatives designed to sustain and strengthen nonprofit partners through leadership development, strategic partnerships, and outcomes measurement.

SVP Philadelphia is a regional network of community leaders and philanthropists who are committed to leveraging their social, financial, and intellectual capital. To provide grants and volunteer assistance to the leaders of high potential nonprofit organizations whose missions can help bring an end to intergenerational poverty.

SVP Philadelphia is part of a global network of more than 3,500 partners in 43 cities who have collectively contributed more than $60 million to over 900 organizations. On today’s episode, we’ll get to know Jennifer and hear more about about SVP PHL, how to create collaborations with industry stakeholders, and we’ll explore best practices for leadership development and strengthening your relationships with strategic partners.

SHOW AGENDA
  • On today’s episode we will:
    • Get to know Jennifer and hear about SVP PHL
    • We will discuss Jennifer’s strategies for building capacity
    • Discuss the amazing things that SVP PHL is doing for the nonprofit community

What you will learn on this episode:

  • Hear about how SVP PHL is helping to combat poverty in Philadelphia
  • How to increase opportunities and learn to build a community around your brand by collaborating with like-minded folks
  • How to strengthen organizations through investments of financial capital as well as intellectual, social, and cultural capital
  • How to use strategic partnerships to help grow your organization
  • And so much more!

After you’ve listened to the episode, make sure you visit SVP PHL (https://www.unitedforimpact.org/job/social-venture-partners-associate/) to check out their latest philanthropic efforts.

Make sure you subscribe to the Self Made Strategies Podcast on your favorite podcasting platform.  You can find us on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, and Spreaker.

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Here is the transcript for Episode 054 of the Self Made Strategies Podcast:

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:00:18] Welcome to a brand new episode of the Self Made Strategies podcast. I’m your host Tony Lopes. Joining me today is special guest cohost Katie Wright. Hey Katie, welcome back. Thanks for coming in.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:00:29] Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:00:30] Katie was on our show on episode 37 of course, when she spoke about her business, Right Cause Consulting, and all things cause marketing. So go back and listen to that episode after you’re done listening to this one, of course. And today’s guest on the self-made strategies podcast is Jennifer Gleason, managing director of SVP PHL. That’s Social Venture Partners in Philadelphia.

Hey Jen, how are you?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:00:57] Hey, I’m good. Thanks, Tony. Thanks so much for having me.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:01:00] Yeah, thanks for coming in. Of course, you and Katie know each other from being around the nonprofit space, and we’re really excited to hear more about your involvement with United way and of course, your new initiative with social venture partners here in Philly.

So today we’ll be discussing building capacity through strategic partnerships, which is the wheelhouse of SVP PHL sort of model and mission, correct?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:01:27] Yeah. Yeah. I wouldn’t, I would say it’s really around this, the model of, engaged philanthropy and how we can drive, as many individuals to help to fight poverty as much as possible in Philadelphia. So excited to talk more about that.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:01:40] Yeah, really cool initiative and we’re really excited to hear about it. So a little bit about social venture partners, which is powered by United way. It’s a philanthropic network, but they do more than give away money.

SVP PHL specifically helps those out to do good, do better, bringing together donors, nonprofits, and social enterprises so we can all make a greater collective impact. As VP cultivates effective philanthropists, strengthens nonprofits, and invests in collaborative solutions, building powerful relationships to tackle our community’s social challenges.

Jennifer Gleason is the managing director of social venture partners, Philadelphia SVP, a role in which she is charged with leading the launch of this transformational new initiative. Earlier in her United way career, she oversaw capacity building initiatives designed to sustain and strengthen nonprofit partners through leadership development, strategic partnerships, and outcomes measurement.

SVP Philadelphia is a regional network of community leaders and philanthropists who are committed to leveraging their social, financial, and intellectual capital. To provide grants and volunteer assistance to the leaders of high potential nonprofit organizations whose missions can help bring an end to intergenerational poverty.

As VP Philadelphia is part of a global network of more than 3,500 partners in 43 cities who have collectively contributed more than $60 million to over 900 organizations. On today’s episode, we’ll get to know Jennifer and hear more about about SVP PHL, how to create collaborations with industry stakeholders, and we’ll explore best practices for leadership development and strengthening your relationships with strategic partners.

So, Jen, quite the bio. Tell us about how you started with United way and how your journey eventually led you to becoming the managing director of SVP P H L.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:03:38] Great. So thanks again for having me. I feel like I’ve been a United way lifer, so to speak. I’ve been there, almost 10 years now. And, what led me there was really a goal to, to work at the macro level here in Philadelphia on addressing systemic poverty here. I think that, you know, when I started out my career, I always knew I wanted to be in social work. I have my undergrad degree in social work, my graduate degree in social work, did some direct service work. And then what drew me to Philadelphia was really to focus on that, that macro level nonprofit management work.

And so when I joined the team at United way, as you mentioned, I was the. Overseeing capacity building initiatives. And really what that meant was to help to leverage the investments that United way was making and over 200 nonprofit partners at the time, and really strengthening the leaders of those nonprofits to be able to do the work that they’re doing, as, as well as possible.

And so did that for a few years and then, got asked to, to kind of switch over to the, to the dark side of the house, so to speak. Just kidding. but to, to. Do a development work, which to me, you know, as a social worker, that was something that I didn’t ever see myself doing. fundraising. but I think every nonprofit leader at some point in their career really should, get their hands dirty in fundraising.

I think that the work that I did there was really important in a way that it, it’s all about connecting donors to, to what they are investing in, in the community. And I think that that actually really helped to solidify my belief in the social venture partners. Model when that was brought to United way by our new president and CEO.

So about two years ago, he joined the team, and he had lived in different cities throughout the country. He knew about the social venture partners model, which has been around since the early two thousand. and so. And joining the team at United way felt like it was an incredible opportunity for United way to innovate, and to try to drive as many people as possible to eliminating intergenerational poverty, which is United way’s mission.

So obviously that’s a huge, a huge mission and a lofty goal, that no one institution will be able to tackle alone. And so the idea to start a social venture partners model here is really about, getting as many people off the sidelines as. Possible. And really, as I mentioned, the model of engaged philanthropy is, you know, for people to give to a cause.

I think, you know, I’m a, I’m a firm believer in my own philanthropy that when I am more knowledgeable about what the issues are that I’m working on, or that my money is working on, I’m more apt to increase my investment and to really, feel good about where that money is going, and so I think the, you know, the social venture partners model is really about connecting people to the work, educating them really about what the issues in Philadelphia are.

You know, there’s a lot of well-meaning, well intentioned people, who want to do more than write checks. And so really what this is about is. I’m giving them those opportunities to learn to build a community around that and be with some like-minded folks who, who care a lot about Philadelphia and see its potential.

And so, I’m just excited, you know, I can go more, more in depth about exactly how the model works in the podcast, but I’m just really excited that, that bill saw the, the opportunity here and that United way, seized it.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:07:15] Yeah. I want to get into the model right from the get go here because it is so unique in that it’s individual donors and philanthropists that you know, you’re not knocking on the doors of the big corporations, which a lot of groups do in this city, which is great.

Obviously that goes a long way, but this is truly engaged giving because you are getting a singular person that has this drive to alleviate this. Systemic problem in our city of Philadelphia. Talk more about what SVP Philadelphia does, how they’re, you know, how are you reaching those folks to be, part of the group, and then what are they expected to bring to the table once they become a member?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:07:55] So we’re in our very, I would say early days, I’m in terms of launching SVP Philadelphia, but essentially. The model as it exists in other cities is really about, as I said, cultivating and, creating a knowledge base around what the issues are so that people can be more effective in their giving and do that collectively.

But it’s also really about strengthening organizations through, investments of financial capital as well as the intellectual, social, and cultural capital of the SVP partners themselves. So it’s a, you know, it’s a philanthropic network, that we’re building here. And the, the partners of which we have, I’m excited to say we have 40 founding partners who have signed on to this already.

You know, what we’re, what we’re about to embark on is, you know, a formal strategic planning process that’ll help us to figure out exactly what the model looks like here in Philadelphia. What we want to avoid as being duplicative of. All of the great efforts that are already happening throughout the city, but really studying the local ecosystem and figuring out where SVPs resources can be, most impactful.

So I’ll give you some examples of, you know, in other cities, it’s really about, the, the funds that the partners contribute. It goes into a pooled fund. and then those resources are. invested in the nonprofits, and it’s actually the partners themselves who decide where and how to invest those resources, but that’s really the beginning of the partnership and the investee. So, various nonprofits typically, you know, in other cities they receive grants, but then, that’s when the partnership begins with those nonprofits because it’s a matter of assessing then with those nonprofits. Partners. What is the, what are their capacity building needs?

What types of, you know, organizational capacity could the partnership help, help them with, what types of strategic issues might they be dealing with that within the partnership? you know, there’s a variety of skills. There’s a variety of, social access available. As I said, the, you know, the, the folks within the partnership have, all kinds of business acumen that they can share with the nonprofit sector.

And so. It’s a matter of really assessing with those nonprofit partners what their needs are and then figuring out how then SVP can be of service to them. So

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:10:17] I our question about the nonprofit partners themselves, how you’re picking them. Cause when I hear, you know, this, they quit equate. SVP to venture philanthropy.

So when I hear it, venture capitalism, it’s kind of like a shark tank environment where people are being pitched constantly and saying, this is our, you know, our mission, our goal, and we think that you as VCs or now in this case, VPs could help me in that way. is that the process? Are these nonprofits expected to come to the table with like this pitch and say, ah, believe in me?

And then the members say. They’re picking who they want or, you know, how does that process look for our city and for nonprofits down the road?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:11:00] Well. So, I think the strategic planning process will really help us to take a look at how the other SVPs and different markets, of which I, I don’t know if I mentioned yet, but there’s over 40 SVPs throughout the world, mostly U S based. but there’s a strong SVP presence in India, Japan, Australia. so it’s really what we’ll be doing is taking a look at how the, how SVPs across the, the world invest in the nonprofit sector. But I think. What you know, and as far as just really philanthropy in general, when you look at, you know, how philanthropy has operated and how grants get handed out.

That sort of power and balance, is what we are looking to really dismantle. I think, you know, there’s. Pitch, pitch competitions. I think, you know, I have, you know, there’s a list of pros and cons. I think that it’s a way, yeah. Mixed emotions. I mean, I think that they’re wonderful and introducing the general public to, to the, the great work that nonprofits are doing.

I think that depending on how much money is then being handed out to them. Could be worth it. And I, you know, I’ll talk a little later about one, pitch competition. Actually the SVP is sponsoring here in Philadelphia. That’s new this spring. but I think that, you know, as far as how in general, what our grant making model will look to do is really to level the playing field as far as which organizations are able to receive grants.

I think, you know, SVP, in general would want to invest in organizations that have the ability to scale, but that perhaps aren’t the most well known nonprofits. that, you know, with the, the whole idea really is with the assistance and the investment beyond the dollars of SVP partners, those organizations could really grow.

and their, um. You know, grow in their reach, but also in their impact, but also grow and, and their ability for people to recognize, you know, them as more household names. If there were more people who were knowledgeable about the work that they were doing, little guys and

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:13:01] chance to put them in the ring.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:13:03] Yeah. So, I mean, I think typically the organizations that, you know, I’ve, I’ve looked at sort of what, size organizations SVP invest in typically in the one to $5 million range. So really, really small nonprofits, startup nonprofits or. Are probably not within the purview of SVP, just because then that’s, you know, if you’re a one man, one woman show ’em, then the SVP partners might be like envelopes, which is greatly valuable work.

But I think the idea here is that, you know, it would be a sort of mid level, mid sized nonprofit that as VPs, you know, the, the. Actual hard skills that SVP partners could bring around marketing or legal or, you know, strategic planning, fund development to help those nonprofits really think those things through that might not have a budget for consulting.

like an

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:13:53] accelerator course. Like you already have legs to this organization, and so you just need a bump with some.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:13:58] Yeah. And also just, you know, door opening, I think. . Some nonprofits have just incredible boards of directors, right? That can help make a call when something goes wrong or when something needs to happen.

And, and you know, to have the Rolodex is amazing, but not all a nonprofit leaders have access. And, I think what we’re looking for here is to really look at who is serving the community, who’s doing amazing work that with the, with all of the. Various capital that, the SVP partners could add to that nonprofit, could take them to the next level.

So I think there’s just, there’s, I think over 9,000 nonprofits in the Philadelphia region, which the number often blows my mind. But, yeah. And I think, you know, it’s really competitive, but I think the organizations that are in the communities that are serving, minority populations that are serving people who really, you know, need the help and, and could benefit from the resources of SVP, that’s really where we’ll.

We’ll focus our energies.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:14:59] Yeah. Well, thank you first of all, for what you’re doing in this area, because Philadelphia is struggling with how to deal with multigenerational poverty. people who are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds not getting opportunity. overall the city is really struggling with that.

And I serve on the board of a nonprofit that works in that space, college possible. Shout out to them where we help, high school students. High school students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds get to a college degree, and that’s a six year near peer model. And, we run the site here. I’m on the board of the Philadelphia site, and it’s a great mission, but it’s a struggle.

And to your point, there are a lot of nonprofits that are in similar spaces that could also come together to collaborate and really unify. And kind of stay within their lane, but leverage each others exactly what works and leverage each other’s resources to make a bigger impact.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:15:58] Right? Yeah.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:15:59] Yeah, absolutely.

And I think that’s, you know, hit the nail on the head there. I think that, you know, SVP partners, you know, obviously we have 40 now, which is no small number, but definitely looking to grow, you know, the more people that we have, that we’re bringing to these nonprofits that aren’t as well known, the more.

You know, if we’re all out at an event, making a podcast, doing something that, the light bulb goes off, you know, I should connect you with, this person and, you know, they’re doing similar work and perhaps, you know, you guys could collaborate. So I think it just really what I see as, this persistent lack of collaboration in the, it’s, it’s beyond just the nonprofit sector, but I think nonprofit sector, um.

In general is by way of the model. They’re sort of required to compete for funds. And so it creates this kind of, Boulay actually, of an amazing organization now in Seattle called Rainier Valley corpse, talks about this, but, also has a, a great. Blog called, well, it used to be a nonprofit with balls, but now it’s not

I encourage anyone who wants to learn about the sector at a very, like, you know, real way to check out his blog. He talks, he talks a lot about this idea of nonprofit hunger games. And I think it’s, it’s just that is the model that they’re, conditioned to have to compete. And therefore, it. decreases the incentive to collaborate.

And so I think in Philadelphia, actually, bill, our CEO at United way says, you know, that nonprofit collaboration, like it’s a, you know, this is a contact sport. And, it’s an unfortunate thing that. That getting the work done. It can’t, you know, can’t always just be about the mission and that, the idea of this, you know, money, ego, turf gets in the way of doing great work.

And so I think where, where there’s potential here is that we’re bringing, we’re bringing the private sector folks, through SVP to the nonprofit sector. But the goal is, you know, what can we do with government? What can we do with policy? what can we do it, I’m a systems level in order to, to create some change.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:18:12] So going to the members, who are you looking at to be members of SVP Philly? You know, like you said, you want to, you want kind of folks in every sector so that you’re bringing out a whole tool set for the nonprofits to use. But you know, who exactly are you targeting? You know, younger generations are so passionate about this, but they might not have the skill set, you know, background funds or, or anything.

That’s necessary to come to the table for SVP. So, who’s your main target?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:18:42] You know, it’s a good question. I think I’m, I’ve, I’ve been, just so I’m loving this ride so far in terms of who’s come to the table, met a lot of amazing people, who want to contribute, you know, time, talent, and treasure. I think that’s the, I often say like, there’s no, as you said, like we want a variety of skill sets, so there’s no one sector, that we’re targeting.

But I think, the. The spirit that we’re target targeting here is, people with an entrepreneurial spirit. I think, people who this isn’t about, you know, often in, in philanthropy, you know, when a funder makes a grant, and then they go to the nonprofit and there’s a site visit, it’s very buttoned up.

Then it’s trying to show, you know, put on the best face you can as your organization in order to impress the funder and make them feel good about their investment. SVP really is about like, what’s under the hood. and, and, we’re okay. We’re totally okay with that. And that’s, that’s the reason why we want to partner with nonprofits and show up.

Is to help them through those strategic issues. So being entrepreneurial, thinking outside the box, as far as, you know, what we’re looking for is a meaningful contribution. and so it’s, you know, a contribution because where . You know, a financial contribution. You know, I think a lot of times people, and as you said, like younger folks, you know, might not have the money, but at the end of the day, totally recognizing that not everyone has, you know, a thousand, 2000, $3,000 to contribute to this, but, but to have some skin in the game through either financial contribution or your time, as much as possible, I think when people contribute, and, and really think hard, write about what this issue in Philadelphia is and can probably spare something and we have an opportunity here. I’m also, through some funding that we’ve received through, a grant to help us with our startup costs is to offset, knowing that there’s, incredible skills and expertise and people with lived experience, you know, in Philadelphia who, would add so much value to the mission of SVP that we’re able to offset what the, you know, financial contribution could be just because.

You know, we want to make sure that we have a very diverse and inclusive group of people, and that we have the skill sets and the knowledge base of what these issues are. And so, we certainly, you know, are willing to talk to anyone who finds this mission. interesting and intriguing to them because I’m, at the end of the day, it’s, you know.

one of the statistics that has troubled me most and why when this model of SVP was introduced to me, I felt like it was just such an incredible opportunity. Is that while, while Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the country, it’s also, one of the least philanthropic cities. so out of the, the top 50 cities in the country, Philadelphia.

43rd and philanthropic giving. So what does that mean?

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:21:41] Cause we have so many charities, I have a hard time wrapping my head around that

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:21:45] and just give the least. Yeah, it’s the individual philanthropy is just a really a lethargic. And you know, I think a lot about that. you know, we’re behind pure cities where behind Atlanta, Baltimore, who also, you know, Baltimore has incredibly high poverty rate as well.

and I, I. Know, I think a lot about like what, what’s that about? Like, can we unpack why, why people are so uninvested in Philadelphia? And I think there’s, you know, in some ways, I don’t think it’s. And I, I try to be glass half full. So I don’t think it’s malicious. I don’t think it’s that people don’t care.

It’s perhaps that they feel like, you know, they’re presented with these statistics all the time about poverty in Philadelphia, and they, you know, walked down the street and, you know, obviously homelessness is a huge issue here and there’s just a lot of neighbors of our neighbors struggling. And so, if you’re paying attention, it can be pretty depressing.

and I think that people feel, you know, like it’s overwhelming and that. Perhaps their individual contribution really can’t make an impact. And so why do it? Or, you know, maybe, you know, people are spread pretty thin and have a lot of different organizations to give to. Obviously you mentioned there’s, you know, lots and lots of nonprofits here, but, but really in thinking about this, I think a part of it could possibly.

Possibly be that they just don’t really know how to plug in, that they don’t know where, who are the nonprofits doing incredible work? Who are the leaders that should be invested in where, you know, where’s the best? Where’s the best bet? And so I think that part of what SVP can help to answer is, and United way really, is to help people directly.

Their funds. But, with this SVP model is direct their time and their talent as well, so that they do see that their individual contribution can have an impact so that, enjoining with others that they’re able to, to leverage their contribution that much more. And so that’s what we’re really looking to do here is kind of.

Let’s just change the narrative. I think, Philadelphia, you know, since I’ve moved here, it’s like 15 years ago. You know, I’ve just felt like the city has so much potential. and I think, you know, I’m not alone in that thought, but it’s, I just think it’s unacceptable for, for us to be in this place right now with, you know, this Renaissance happening downtown and with.

You know, we have the largest middle millennial retention rate, amazing universities, hospitals, and you know, all these great restaurants and things to do, and, and people love living in center city. But, at the end of the day, it’s just not okay. with that many of our neighbors struggling. So, with SVP, we really hope to, to just get as many people up the sidelines possible.

That’s awesome.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:24:25] So going back to part of your mission being that you’re sort of connecting the outcomes with donor dollars so that people can have a more clear perspective of what their money is going towards. What are some of the ways that you’re approaching that to innovate that system? And then going into the grant writing side of things that you’re helping some of your nonprofit clients with.

What are the ways that you’re innovating and kind of disrupting that system, for lack of a better term, so that you can eliminate that. You know, money only goes to the really marquee nonprofits, so to speak. How are you helping startup nonprofits get to those funds?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:25:07] So there’s a couple of questions there, but, so I mean, I think that it’s about, as far as outcomes and, and how SVP sort of innovates on outcomes is, it’s really about that beyond the dollar support and, a couple of SVP chapters do an incredible job of showing, you know, it’s, they might.

Make a grant of $50,000 to an organization, but with those volunteer hours, that the SVP partners invest in that nonprofit, they’re, you know, able to then, you know, write better grants. Their financial systems are in better shape. they’re able to hire more people that they, are able to secure.

You know, if they say, I’m work on a, uh. a project around measuring their outcomes and, around evaluating their impact, they’re able to better show that to other funders. So I think, you know, what other money can SVP help them leverage? so I think there’s some incredible stories throughout the network that, SVP we give.

Operating support. That’s not something that’s, that’s common among funders, but it should be every funder’s mission to give that type of support. I’m on restricted funds for them to use however they need to use those funds. But then with SVPs assistance, you know, and it’s, it’s longterm. You know, it’s, SVP is typically invested in an organization for three to five years.

so it’s not, you know. I’ve definitely been subject to this where you get a one year grant, like it’s, you know, it’s tough to get a lot done in that year. and then show your impact and then reapply and reapply. Spend a lot of time doing that. if you don’t have a good grant writer, that’s, you know, it’s really impossible to grow.

So SVP, you know, SVP partners aren’t, aren’t. Like they’re writing grants for them, but it’s, it’s really helping figure out what are the business models that they can, can work within in order to, to grow and to leverage, SVPs investment. And I think that, you know, the types of outcomes that are then seen throughout the network are exponential.

It’s really, you mentioned venture. Venture philanthropy and, some SVPs, sort of market themselves as that. So when venture capitalists invest in a company, I mean, they sit on that board, they do whatever they can to open as many doors as possible so that, you know, private sector sort of like, let’s, let’s

Do whatever we can to grow this organization, and go all, all in on them. that’s SVPs approach. And so, I think in terms of, how we’re able to help organizations grow, that’s what we’re looking to do here. Obviously we don’t have, because we’re in our, you know, launching phase and still have some work to do around, you know, our grant size and.

You know, what types of offerings we’ll have, exactly how our model will look. We don’t have outcomes yet, but I think what will barely be looking to show is when you, when you combine the skills of the SVP partners with a financial investment of SVP, it’s able to, just really exponentially help the, the nonprofit sector grow.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:28:19] And so, are there specific nonprofits that you work with mainly or. Is it basically the sky’s the limit. Are there areas of expertise that you’re mainly focused on?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:28:28] So I’m here in Philadelphia, our mission is all around, poverty alleviation and, and, really around, focused on intergenerational poverty.

and so. I think that, you know, that will be the, those types of nonprofits, the nonprofits that are working on those types of issues. Obviously poverty is a very broad subject and issue here. So we’ll, through this strategic planning process, really be looking at and developing a knowledge base around, among the partners really around, what are.

What are the root causes here? Like why does Philadelphia look the way that it looks? you know, some of the folks in SVP are, already sort of wizards in the nonprofit sector and, you know, or folks from the corporate social responsibility world who, are. Skilled and sort of already, in the world of grant making and working with nonprofits.

and then some folks are, you know, this is their first foray. They’re retiring and they care a lot about the city, and so they want to roll their sleeves up and learn as much as possible. So what we’ll be doing over this. this next six months is really taking a look at where, you know, where’s what’s happening in the local ecosystem?

What are the nonprofits that are knocking out of the park? what are interventions that are effective? and with those, you know, with that knowledge base bill, what is the most, the highest and best use of SVPs resources? we are. Definitely not here to sort of show up and say, we know what the answer is.

we certainly don’t, but we know that there’s people within the community. then there’s people doing this work already on the ground who can help to inform our plan, and help to inform the, investments that we’ll look to make. So as much as possible, it’s all going to be about community engagement.

And really. Trying to figure out what, you know, in some chapters, they have sort of like pro bono consulting practices. and some they have more, you know, um. Project-based, you know, offerings around marketing, around, legal, around, that some have, sort of a mentoring model where they pair up a nonprofit leader with a, leader from private sector in order to, to, work through some strategic issues.

So there’s lots of ways that I think it could look, but at the end of the day, like I said earlier, we don’t want to be duplicative if there’s organizations, um. You know, around capacity building and around doing this work, that already exist in the market. And, and I, I won’t say F like, we know that there are organizations, in our market that are doing this work, so how can we strategically partner with them, in order to leverage their work, but in order to bring those SVP partners to, to whatever is happening so that, you know, we can just all grow together.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:31:12] And SVP Philly, From my understanding in a unique position here, because you know, SVP around the world isn’t necessarily backed by a nonprofit like SVP. Philly is backed by United way, so you have sunlight inside Intel already of having a. Pretty massive nonprofit that is helping you a kind of cut that learning curve and an half and saying, this is what nonprofits typically need for capacity building and things like that.

But also, you know, you’re bringing a nonprofit mindset. Right from the get go to SVP. Can you talk a little bit about how that you think that’s going to be like a differentiator for SVP Philly? You guys could be like the leader in this.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:31:52] Yeah, I mean it’s, yeah, we are the only SVP throughout the world.

That’s, that’s supported by United way. I mean, I think the, the vision that bill had to do this, and it was interesting. Early on, I think there was, you know, some questions around like, why would United way back an SVP, it’s, you know, a similar idea, right, of leveraging people’s money, of, you know, investing in the nonprofit sector and, growing impact.

But. As I said, I’m, at the end of the day, it’s all about the mission and it’s about driving as many people to fight poverty as possible. And so knowing that, you know, United way has, the market share of acts like it, you’re going to need as many people in this fight as possible. And so, how can you reach people who then United way model might not appeal to or who?

like I said, just want to. do more than write a check and really roll their sleeves up and contribute of their time, through strategic, skills-based volunteerism. And so, I think, you know, we have a very unique opportunity here because United way, you know, and really why I was driven to work for United way.

I think it’s the only institution, in the region that sits between the private sector and the nonprofit sector.  and has such, access to, you know, the public sector and, and philanthropy. So. I mean, United way is, is, grant making is fundraising institution. and so they, you know, as I said, with the mission of fighting poverty, have done extensive research around what are the most effective interventions that knowledge can, as you, as you said, really be shared with.

SVP and SVP can, you know, take from United way, but also learn from, you know, other funders in the region and learn from, what’s happening throughout the SVP network, other funders nationally and globally. Really, SVP is a global network of, you know, what is the most effective interventions? not every SVP, I think you asked earlier, Tony, that I’m sort of like, which, which nonprofits we would invest in.

Not every SVP is issue focused. Um. Can, in some cities, they are agnostic in terms of, what they fund. and, but we’ve really chosen to focus on this mission of poverty. And so it’s all about data, data, and research. and really taking a look at what are the most effective interventions, but then also how, you know, what is the best way that this SVP model could be impactful, right.

Because there could be some effective interventions that . That really just need money and need capital. And, and that could be, you know, something that, that, United way would invest in because it’s, you know, they have the subject matter experts who are, very knowledgeable and United ways, obviously able to leverage lots and lots of capital.

SVP obviously, you know, with 40 partners and looking to grow, but has a smaller financial resource base. And so it’s really about. How can we leverage the skills and the talent within the partnership as well? And so I think we’ll be looking a lot, at sort of what United way is doing. And, and also just what other key partners in the city are doing, around this and how we can collaborate.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:35:05] That’s awesome. So what are your best practices overall to increase the efficiency of a collaboration between a nonprofit and the strategic partner? When you’re working with two organizations that maybe don’t have experience working together, and let’s face it, you know, you have a lot of political issues internally.

You have a lot of bureaucratic issues sometimes that come across the table and even just culture shock, so to speak, right, between two organizations, kind of melding together for a cause marketing. Style campaign or for a strategic collaboration of any kind. So what are your best practices in that situation?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:35:40] If you know, so I’ll, I’ll speak to sort of my old capacity building days. I’m with the United way cause I had, you know, lots of experience. One of the, the lines of grant making that, we focused on and we continued to focus on is around strategic partnerships. and. Actually out of that work grew the nonprofit repositioning foe fund, which I’ll plug here as an incredible resource here in the region that not, not a lot of people know about or more people should know about.

but it’s, it’s a fund that was developed and it’s a funders collaborative. There’s lots of, I think there’s seven or eight different foundations who are invested in this, including United way, but it’s. To provide, monetary, but also consultation, support to organizations that are looking to strategically partner, whether that be, you know, back office infrastructure sharing, whether that be, merger affiliations.

you know, all different types of, strategic partnerships exist along the spectrum. But I think best practices, I mean, honestly, as you said. It’s, it’s a lot to, if you’re looking at, you know, a merger or a affiliation, I think you’re, you know, you’re, you’re looking at melding together two boards, and, and the culture, and depending on, you know, if it’s the, a founder organization, um.

Founder led organization. You have a lot of the, a lot going on there with politics, but, so at the end of the day, I mean, engaging outside help is my biggest, I guess, recommendation there. I think trying to do it on your own, could be a time, a time suck, but also just an incredibly challenging process.

that I think having, a skilled, um. You know, consultant, legal assistance. there’s just so much that needs to go into a nonprofit partnership. You know, I think on the, so I would again plug the, the repositioning fund if folks are looking to, to partner. Um. In a way that’s, you know, they have a website.

but if they’re looking to partner to check that out. But I think, you know, just in general, like best practices is really just taking a look at, whether the, those a culture fit. But as we said, I think in this, you know, I might be on a soapbox here, but with 9,000 nonprofits, it’s hard to get a lot done with a, I think there, there was a study that Philadelphia foundation did a few years back, that, you know, 75% of the.

nonprofits have less than a 100,000 or a $1 million budget. So that’s, you know, and, and have less capital needed to keep the lights on for more than three months. And so, you know, with, with, nonprofits on the brink of not being able to keep their lights on, it’s hard to really focus on impact. so as much as possible, I think the more, nonprofits could think about partnership and collaboration, and could sort of put, put all other things aside related to, you know.

You go and tariff and whatnot, working together. I think we, you know, we’ll all be stronger. So, I’m just a big advocate of nonprofit collaboration really.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:38:40] Yeah. I think the timing is right. Also, I have no other reason other than gut feeling at least to say this, but it seems like people are more collaborative or where there’s a growing culture of collaboration in general.

Oh,

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:38:52] for sure. I mean, we’re in a coworking

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:38:54] space

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:38:56] about

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:38:56] like,

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:38:57] yeah, I mean, collaboration is the name of the game these days, and you got and go further together, you know? but what that takes is someone to take the reins and say. You know, someone’s got to take the first step. And that lends to leadership.

And that’s something that you can, I’m sure, can speak to Jenny, your background and why you were chosen for this role out of the United ways. Massive. You know, the ecosystem. They said, you know, Jen. Take the lead on this. What are your best practices, personally as a leader, and how are you instilling that in SVP Philly to build better leaders and to take the reins?

You know, poverty is a problem and we need someone to make this first step.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:39:38] Yeah, I mean, I think that, um. You know, even just United way as an example, SVP, and United way have a strategic partnership, right? So I’m figuring that out was a bit of a challenge in the beginning. As I said. just the, the questions around is this going to cannibalize the work that United way is doing?

Is this gonna take away donors who were giving to the United way? Who would, you know want to transfer their money to SVP? Um. At the end of the day, it’s about the mission. and I’m just a firm believer that if you can keep on returning to like, why we are here, and what this is about, that you’re able to, um.

Focus a lot, a lot less on, those other factors. But as I said earlier, I think that the, the way funding arrangements, and the way the funding model works for, nonprofits, it’s hard to, it’s just, it really prevents collaboration and it’s hard to think outside the box. we’ve been presented with.

Even actually earlier today, I mean, we have, I’m working on a grant with United way around taking a look at, skills-based volunteerism, and the, the strategy that United way wants to move forward with, and this, you know, it’s an a, a period of evolution right now, and there’s just this right focus on, um.

You know, sort of moving away from episodic volunteerism and, you know, painting a fence or, you know, packing backpacks and things like that, towards more, impactful, ways to, really do some of the work that SBP is doing around, around professional skills and the use of that in the nonprofit sector.

And so I think, United way taking a look at. across their, their donors and across the what, you know, really what are the opportunities to, to shift to a more skills based model. And, you know, so we’re collected, we’re collaborating on grants and I’m thinking through, you know, how can, you know, SVP is more of sort of a caviar, right?

Like, it’s a lot of time. it tends to be more money than, you know, some folks are willing to put up, an invest and some people are like, why do I have to pay to volunteer? Right? Like, that seems. that, that seems like, you know, counterintuitive something that I’ve never really been asked to do before.

But, so, so as VP, you know, might not appeal to everyone. and so what can United way really be doing? And so I think, you know, we’ve been collaborating a lot on, how, you know, SVP can just be one spoke on the wheel for United way. Um. But really it’s positioned within the community. As you know, sitting between the private sector and the nonprofit sector would just be a huge waste to not capitalize on that.

And so, I mean. To return to sort of why I personally, you know, are my best practices around, you know, partnership. I think it’s, it’s really just returning to the mission, but also, thinking outside the box on, on funding and also just being honest about, you know, sometimes, you know, it’s, it’s going to be hard.

I think if. If funders could just see more value in making collaborative grants that can help drive collaboration. So I think we used to work very closely in the early days before the nonprofit repositioning fund with other funders. around. You know, if, if two organizations, if we’re both funding a consultant for them to explore a merger, let’s just do it together and let’s, like, let’s cut it out with the really extensive reporting that they have to do to both of us.

And then let’s just have one report and let’s figure out a way, you know, to do a joint site visit, let’s just make it easier on the nonprofit sector. So that’s really, as we move forward with SVP, what we’ll look at, what we’ll be looking to promote. we have a lot of flexibility cause we’re new. So, and, you know, not, not big, so it’s easier to, you know, it’s not like moving the Titanic and, or this well-established foundation towards a different way of doing things.

so I think we’ll be able to really look at, how can we make this easier for nonprofits, and not make them jump through hoops for money, but not make them jumps, jump through hoops. Hoops to collaborate as well.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:43:48] I think that’s what leadership looks like. A lot of times in collaborative environments, it’s, it’s just efficiency.

You know, like you’re, you’re still have a lot of moving parts and you’re still, you know, working with many partners that are equally valuable. But being a leader amongst that means you’re making it the most efficient possible route. And I feel like that’s what SVPs. Mission is, I mean, like you said, being funded by United way, yet still looking to engage other nonprofits that are fighting poverty.

You’re not looking to duplicate anything that United way is doing, but saying, let’s make this the most efficient way of giving and and fighting poverty in Philadelphia.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:44:27] I think it’s also just recognizing that partnership is hard. Like it’s sticky and sometimes you just need to like go get a drink and Duke it out and just say like, you know what?

Like. You know, this isn’t working, or this is, let’s, let’s go in this direction. And sometimes it’s okay to just say that’s not the best partner for us. And so I think, you know, we’ve found an incredible partner in United way and, and helping to provide so much capacity from an infrastructure perspective and also the funding, that we’ve received and, you know, just the, the alignment and vision.

And so I think, you know, it could serve as a great example for others looking to do similar things.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:45:04] Going to the leadership angle, what advice would you give to nonprofit leaders who are looking to build their prospecting list and fundraise? I know that’s, again, two questions at once, but what are your best practices in either or to help those leaders do make a bigger impact?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:45:21] Yeah, I mean, fundraising is, it’s interesting, obviously, you know, I never saw myself a fundraising and my early social work days, but, having had that experience at United way, I realized it’s. It’s connecting people to the mission. I’m prospecting. It’s the same. just really figuring out, you end up, you realize that in fundraising you end up, you know, I think people get nervous about like making the ask and, and most of the time.

It’s not even about that. I mean, it’s about inspiring people to want to support what you’re doing. And luckily with SVP, I mean, we’ve by way of just sort of telling our story and, and this model being so effective elsewhere, people are like, yeah, I want to do that. Also, as I said, it appeal, it appeals to the entrepreneurial type.

Like, we’re building this thing. So get in at the ground floor, help us with the model, help, work with others, to make this thing great, to make this thing that the biggest chapter there is. but I think just fundraising in general. You gotta be used to hearing? No, and just be alright with it. I told my, I told when I first started, you know, I was doing major gift fundraising for United way and United way has the, an incredible blessing to have, over 90,000 donors.

And so, you know, and. Lots and lots of major donors who believe in the mission and the work. And so a lot of it was really, you know, going out and just showing them the impact of their work and trying to connect them to that, and make sure that they felt good about where their money was going. and so.

You know, that stewardship piece is so key. You know, if you’re just showing up at people’s door, asking them for money once a year, you’re going to fall flat on your face, and people will be offended by that. And so it’s about just staying in touch and it’s just about relationships. Like at the end of the day, it’s.

Being yourself, getting to know people, doing as much as you can to connect them to the mission, and forming a good relationship where they trust you. but also that they trust the organization. So it’s, it’s making sure that they feel like they have a relationship with the organization. you know, development, tends to be a high turnover field.

so what you. You know, while it’s great to have great relationships with individuals, you’d be doing a disservice to the, to the organization if, if you weren’t connecting them as much as possible to the mission. If it was just about, Oh, well, I like, I like Jen, so I’m going to write this check to this organization, but when she goes over here, I’ll write this check to this other organization and stop writing it to the, to the one before, you know.

And that’s why I say to people in fundraising, it’s really, really important to get a job with an organization that you care deeply about their mission. the end of the day, like, you know, I, I don’t get it when people are just sort of popping around to different, like, types of organizations with different, focus areas or, you know, different.

Like totally different fields raising money. That to me just seems like you’re really good at sales and you know, you do at the end of the day, fundraising is selling. But, but to care about that mission is, that’s, that’s how you’re going to get people to care and to stay with that organization long term.

And so I think to. To the leaders out there who are fundraising. It’s really just about as much as possible, showing the impact and just connecting with people on a, on a personal level. and also just, yeah, just getting to know people and, and, inspiring them to care.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:48:51] That longevity issue comes up all the time with nonprofits, not just with fundraising, but with capacity internally and turnover with employees and things like that are volunteers.

I think SVPs model of having that long term engagement, like you said, three to five years or so. I think that’s another differentiator with, for you guys amongst all these, you know. Great organizations in Philly that are trying to tackle this thing as a collaborative effort, but you don’t see that commitment

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:49:22] for like multiple years

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:49:23] that they’re willing to say, I am going to stick with this, because that’s when you’re going to start seeing the results.

It’s not something that happens overnight. So I love that aspect to it. And. That you guys are really driving that home of the longterm

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:49:36] commitment. Yeah, definitely. And I mean, I think that, for the nonprofits, that stability of knowing an organization will stay invested in them, that people will care and that, you know, they’re gonna hit, they’re going to hit roadblocks, bumps in the road.

and that’s what this is about, is really about helping them get past those roadblocks, and just deal with, you know. Working in the nonprofit field is tough. And so I think being able to be honest about that and be true partners to the nonprofits that we’re supporting is what this’ll be about. and I think, you know, there’s this, there’s the saying and the SVP network, and sort of the marketing materials, you’ll see that, you know, you, you come to SVP to change your community, but the community changes you.

And so I. You know, that’s really also what it’s about for these people. I think, who, you know, the partners who are investing in SVP, you know, sh show up at the door because they really want to make a change and they really want to have impact in their community. but you know, through that, connecting with others who care and through that learning, right?

That happens when you, you see what the nonprofit sector actually does. and what’s behind the curtain. you’re. You’re able to just so much better tell the story to others and inspire others to want to get involved. And so I think you know, there, there is a great opportunity there.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:50:57] Awesome. So what’s next for SVP P H L I know you guys are a pseudo startup, so where are you at?

What are the next steps? What can we expect in 2020?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:51:06] Yeah, so, so as I said, we have 40 founding partners. we are about to embark on a strategic planning process, which we’re really excited about, and some programming to help the partners really learn about, what the issue is here in Philadelphia.

They are, and, and how we can, be most impactful with our model. so, you know, in 2020, you can expect, you know, by July that we’ll have a, a plan that we’ll be able to share publicly as to what our next steps are, how we’ll do our grant making and how we’ll be working to strengthen organizations and, and really investing our time.

And our. Talent in the nonprofit sector. we also had a great opportunity presented to us very early on, through an organization called philanthropists that was, scaling to Philadelphia from Austin. And so, it’s a social impact pitch competition, which earlier I, you know, I mentioned I had lots of thoughts on.

but what I’m excited most about is. That it’s a significant amount of money that is invested in nonprofits who participate, and also every nonprofit who participates is awarded some amount of money. And so I think, the time that nonprofits spend, you know, it helps to pay for that. oftentimes I think nonprofits, spend a lot of time on, you know, these social media, sort of like as many likes as possible.

this thousand dollar grant opportunity, and if you. Like T if you cost out how many hours you spend on that, you’ve actually lost money. And while there are great marketing opportunities, that’s, you know, not, not probably the best way to, to build your donor base. and going back to sort of how, what nonprofits should focus on in terms of development.

It’s really, I think around individuals and around your biggest bang for your buck. Um. And so I think, you know, I’m, I’m very much excited about philanthropists. it’s being hosted at, at Comcast in April. there’s more information online about it. and applications are actually do, next week. the application isn’t a burdensome, which is another thing that I really like about it.

it’s not gonna make you jump through tons of hoops, but they’re due on the 22nd. and then we’ll be narrowing it down, partners. So as we partners are helping to narrow down those up. Applications. So that’s just another way that, partners really get engaged in the nonprofit sector. But yeah, it’ll be, exciting opportunity to, to have something grow here from, from elsewhere as well.

Very cool. Yeah.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:53:38] Well, thank you so much for being here with us. If people want more information about SVP PHL, what are the best ways to reach out or to reach out to you if they want to get in contact with you?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:53:48] Yeah, I would. so we are in the process of building our website, which will launch next month.

and that’s being built by SVP partners. One way they’re using their skills in the nonprofit sector. so, our website will be, once it’s launched, we’ll be, SVP phl.org, but in the meantime, they can reach out to me, jen@svpphl.org if they’re interested in learning more. Very cool.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:54:15] And Katie, thank you so much for co-hosting.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:54:17] Absolutely.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:54:20] Thank you so much for having me. This is an incredible opportunity and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to spread the word.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:54:25] Thanks. And so at the end of every episode, we play a little game to get to know you on a more personal level. It’s called first, last, best and worst. Katie, and I’ll throw a couple of categories at you.

You give us the first one way, the last one, meaning the most recent, the best one, and then the worst one. And you can spin the worst one, whichever way you prefer. so. Go ahead.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:54:44] All right. So first, last best and worst entrepreneurial challenge that you have faced, what do you

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:54:51] think the last best and worst?

worst, I would say. just the lack of sleep . That’s a really learn HOD log on entrepreneur, learning to love caffeine, not

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:55:07] filling it.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:55:07] Yeah.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:55:11] Right. So that was your words. Give us your best entrepreneurial challenge.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:55:16] I think just the, the amount of people that are in it to support you. I, you know, I’ve been encouraged, just by the SVP partners and just by the people who are saying, you know, keep going. this’ll work. I’m a glass half full person.

but at the end of the day, sometimes you do get a little down on, on any given day about the speed of things or about, you know, um. Having to kind of, sort of do so many things at one time, like what’s the priority? And so I think just the best is having a really strong group of people around you to, to say like, keep going.

Yeah.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [00:55:56] first and last, would you say entrepreneurial challenges happen first?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:56:01] Which one? So last, are you saying like last ? So I think just scale, I think with any entrepreneurial venture is it’s about how do you grow this thing. and so the last is something I’m actually really excited about is bringing on another staff person.

and so, in the process right now of hiring, a number two and, someone to really help grow this work, will be an amazing opportunity for that person to . To dig in, and, and get exposed to all things SVP and help grow this in Philly. So, that’s the last, and then the first was just, you know, I think dealing early on, with, to sort of the naysayers, you know, I, I think someone said this to me the other day, a woman who moved here from Austin, who’s a SVP founding partner is incredible person.

Sarah Harris. I’ll give her a shout out. Um. Works for Entercom, but she said, you know, I’ve never been somewhere where people throw so many tomatoes at a good idea. and I, you know, Austin is a very startup culture type city, and, and Philly. Well, it has, you know, a lot of startups here, right? And I think, there’s folks doing some incredible work to.

To help the startup community. it’s just, it’s hard to get things off the ground. especially I think in the nonprofit sector. I guess I’ll say it just cause I’m most used to that, but people say, you know, we already have that here. we don’t need that. you know. Like, we’ve tried that. so I think it’s just the first, and, you know, an ongoing challenge is just getting people to believe in this and believe in the opportunity and believe in the potential and just, you know, keep it moving.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:57:44] How about your first, last, best and worst moments as a female entrepreneur specifically?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:57:50]

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:57:51] work, they can be, like moments of female empowerment.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:57:54] Yeah, I mean, I think, um. You know, I’ve, I’ve, I would say, I’ve been kinda hustling my whole life in terms of jobs. We didn’t get into this too much, but I’ve probably had 20 different jobs.

My first job being working at McDonald’s. and you know, I’ve worked in parking garages. I’ve worked, I’m probably every bartending job that you can. Um. You know, having a job in social work is a noble and, it’s great work, but, can’t always pay the bills. And no one really taught me early on about, credit card debt and how you shouldn’t take a lot of that line.

and so I think, when I first moved to Philly, there was just a lot of happy hours and, you know, paying, paying my way through undergrad and grad school, brought its own challenges. So I think, yeah, I’ve been sorta . Finding ways to make money my whole life. So I think just, you know, entrepreneurial, I had an Airbnb, my Airbnb business, my old apartment, which is probably illegal since I was renting, you know, all kinds of, little startup ventures.

And, and so I think, so I’d say first it was just early on. I’ve, you know, I’ve, the first day I could get a work permit, I’ve been, hustling. And so. Yeah. And then last, it’s just, I would say SVP. I mean, it’s, it’s been a new experience for me having worked in a United way this, Oh, almost 100 year old organization, which, you know, is really working to innovate and so has a lot of, entrepreneurial people.

They’re now looking to kind of think outside the box, but it’s still, you know, a almost 100 year institutions.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [00:59:31] And to Katie’s point, I mean, it’s, it’s empowering to be selected as the individual . United way to take on this

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [00:59:39] task? Yes. Volumes. Yeah, man. Yeah. I think it’s just, I’m my experience sort of on both sides of the house.

I mean, SVP is definitely the marriage of, capacity building and individual engagement. And so I think, I was, I was really in the right place at the right time there. And. And really believe in Bill’s vision for the work that United way is doing. but yeah, I think, you know, that’s my last, also, I just got married, this past year, so that’s another entrepreneur, I think.

And, but that’s entrepreneurials while, you know, start up, start up the whole married life. so yeah.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:00:13] What is your husband, husband,

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:00:15] or wife or husband? What does your husband do? So he’s in sales. you know, I think I would go nuts if there was another sort of social impact, like change the world, solve poverty in Philadelphia, while he genuinely cares a lot about the city and sees the potential the same way I do.

I think. I already don’t get enough sleep, but, you know, staying up all night to talk about those things would, would kill us both. So, yeah. So we have some, some good balance there, and he brings me back down to earth and, you know, we’ll just watch the Sixers game and forgot about it. And, and yeah, so, so he’s a great support.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:00:51] Where’d you get your wedding dress out of curiosity. My wife’s in the bridal industry,

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:00:55] so yeah, up in Boston actually. Yeah. I’m originally from Massachusetts and my best friend, she lives in Boston and recommended a bridal outlet, and I don’t pay full price for anything, so that was, that’s part of the hustle.

Yeah, that’s part of the hustle. I have

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [01:01:12] my exact same thing. I got married down here and I’m from New Hampshire and I got my. My dress back up in New Hampshire, a little boutique, and it was like off the rack.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:01:21] Definitely. I’m going to be

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [01:01:22] a mindset, I think a part of the entrepreneurial.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:01:25] Yeah,

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [01:01:26] yeah. Bootstrap it.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:01:27] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. There’s always deals available. I’m a big guy, you know TJ, max bras. I love Nishta, right? Yeah.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:01:35] My wife’s been like telling everybody like, Tony loves TJ max because we went like Christmas shopping there.

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [01:01:40] It was amazing.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:01:41] I was like, this is the best

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:01:43] place ever. Oh, it’s just, yeah. I mean, in the fact that now they have one on market street, it’s trouble.

Yeah. Whenever I need some, some retail therapy. It’s just a, it’s cool. Nice release.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:01:54] So how about your best moments as a female entrepreneur?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:01:58] you know, I think just, I’ve always just been. It’s been super driven. and I’m a very competitive person, so I think, you know, we’ve, we were able to, we were awarded a grant from the William Penn foundation, SVP to, to start this, venture up.

So I think, that was the best moment to really have that vote of confidence. I mean, the William Penn foundation is obviously, you know, the biggest funder and. Philadelphia and, and to have that sort of stamp on, on this work, was a great moment. But also just, you know, every day, every time that we get a new partner, to, to sign onto this, I feel like it’s just so w w and, and, you know, people say no.

And I, you know, I think it’s, as I said early, you have to be used to that. But, we’ve had more yeses and nos, and I think that, that that has been, um. Really, really encouraging so far. Very cool.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:02:55] And do you have a worst moment as a female entrepreneur?

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:02:58] Um. You know, I don’t know. I think, you know, I’ve had it, there were days when, in my, in my bartending days, it was actually, it was interesting cause I had, I think at one time, at one point, and this is like three years ago, I had four jobs, or four.

Sources of income, between my, you know, lunging Airbnb business, and I had a bartending job. I also worked as a promotional model, marketing person for alcohol brands and also at United way. And, I don’t, you know, it wasn’t something I think. I’ve definitely, you know, I’m 35 now and I’m grown into just being authentic and just telling it like it is.

But back in those days when you’re really trying to make a name for yourself and rise up professionally, I mean, I’d, you know, I had a master’s degree, but I needed to make money and, you know, my family doesn’t have a lot of money and so there’s a lot of supporting there that needed to happen. And so I think.

You know, some of my worst moments was sort of getting out of the bar at 2:00 AM and being, I actually worked at a bar like right around the corner from United way’s office. So looking up at my building to say like, I need to be back there and five hours, well for a meeting, like this is rough. so there were some days where, you know, I would, I was, uh.

I would eat the catering, right? Like I would get so exciting, excited when we’d have meetings that were catered at United way. Cause I was like, okay, great. Now I don’t have to pay. Like I can just sort of like pack a, like pull it, pull two sandwiches, and then wrap this plate up and take it home. And so there was just a lot of sort of trying to try and make things work, for a while.

And then, you know, I had a great mentor a couple of years ago. Just say like, if you. You know, if you really want to make it, you gotta just focus. and so then, you know, losing certain or not losing, but kind of giving up a couple of sources of income, kept things, you know, got things really thin, for a time being, but was able to, allow me to focus on like, what, how do I need to pitch myself in order to make more money at my, in my career.

Right. And, and so, you know, just. I think just grinding, and just sort of believing in yourself, but also, you know, I would encourage anyone who is looking at social work as a career. Like there’s, there’s opportunities out there. I think it’s just a matter of, you have to ask for it. I think there’s, you know, there’s definitely, like.

you know, pay inequality and a, a gap there between women and men. But I think, you know, through my experience, I think you just need to be confident. and you know, just sorta continue to grind and prove your worth and, and ask for it and lean in. Lean in. Yeah.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:05:39] Yeah. Plug. Are you hinting at a guest

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [01:05:42] now?

I just feel like

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:05:50] if you guys got her, you can cohost

Well, again, thank you so much. This was a great episode. Very informative. Everyone who’s listening should go out and check out SVP PHS website and United way and please get involved.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:06:05] Yes, absolutely. Get involved. I’ll look forward to hearing from you and you know, I’m used to to coffee meetings, so happy to grab it off of it.

Never wants to hear more about, ah,

Katie Wright – Right Cause: [01:06:16] awesome.

Tony Lopes, Esq. – Self Made Strategies & Lopes Law LLC: [01:06:17] Awesome. Yeah, thanks again and Katie, thanks for joining us.

Jennifer Gleason – SVP PHL: [01:06:20] Of course.