June 30, 2009
It took Matt D’Arrigo nearly a decade to realize his dreams of creating ARTS. Nearly another decade was spent establishing the organization as one of the most respected non-profits in San Diego. And, with the help of San Diego Social Venture Partners, the next decade will be spent expanding his mission and mandate.
“What we are really trying to do now is to strengthen what we have,” says D’Arrigo of ARTS, an acronym that stands for ‘A Reason to Survive.’ “But the dream is eventually to expand and replicate the organization.”
ARTS is D’Arrigo’s brainchild and passion. Children facing life’s most difficult challenges participate with ARTS to heal, inspire and empower themselves through art. Working in the field at places such as Rady’s Children’s Hospital or at the ARTS facility and headquarters in Point Loma, kids escape their circumstances by losing themselves in painting, music or any number of other arts forms.
ARTS is one of SDSVP’s newest Investees, having just begun working with Lead Partners Scott Tritt and Angela Hill.
D’Arrigo conceived the idea for ARTS in 1992, when his mother and sister were both diagnosed with cancer. A freshman in college in Alabama at the time, he returned home to Boston to help care for them, where he discovered the power of art. “I used to escape to my room to paint and listen to music. It was very cathartic. I thought that if it worked for me it could work for others, especially kids. That was the seed.”
Over the next nine years – while his mother died and his sister recovered – D’Arrigo worked in several jobs where he learned about running a business. In 2001 he founded ARTS, working out of his house and visiting kids at places such as the Ronald McDonald House.
These days ARTS has a budget of $800,000, a staff of eight and a beautiful 7,000-square-foot studio at the NTC Promenade on Point Loma, near his home. Since its inception ARTS has worked with more than 45,000 kids, and its mission has expanded from working with terminally ill children to working with kids facing many challenges, from abuse to homelessness to illness to foster care to the loss of a parent. Some kids participate with ARTS just once or twice, while others come for months or years.
The Pat D’Arrigo ARTS Center at NTC Promenade in Point Loma is named for his mother, Patricia, and provides a pleasing, peaceful place for kids to create. “It is important to take the kids physically and mentally out of their environment. The kids deserve to be at a nice place, and they love it.”
D’Arrigo had known about SDSVP for several years and was queued to apply once the focus of the organization was children. So far, he says, it’s been a great experience. “Money is one thing, and is great and needed, but there is a great need for human resources and leadership…people who know what they are doing,” says D’Arrigo, who is learning to live with SDSVP at the same time he is learning to live with a new baby. D’Arrigo and his wife, Hulya, welcomed Andrew in June. The couple also has a 2-year-old daughter, Tessa.
“A couple of current Investees told me it was a really intense process,” D’Arrigo says. “But SDSVP is very open to getting feedback and changing and adapting to what the nonprofit needs. That was a bit of a surprise to me, and it’s the sign of a great organization.”
Among the challenges D’Arrigo needs help with is the perception of affluence. Because of the facility on Point Loma and the press ARTS has received, people assume the organization is flush with cash. “We are struggling like everyone else,” he says. “One of the things we are looking at with [SDSVP Lead Partner] Angela [Hill] is how we re-position ourselves to show that we are not flush and we do need support.”
D’Arrigo also plans to tap SDSVP’s thinking on succession planning. “I don’t want ARTS to be so dependent on me,” he says, “I want to be able to spend time on replicating and expanding.”
Finally, D’Arrigo expects that SDSVP will help with earned income, through social enterprise – possible renting out the ARTS studios when not in use and other such potential revenue streams.
Like most fortunate non-profit leaders, D’Arrigo finds his work highly rewarding. “The best part of my job is working with the kids,” he says. “Seeing them having fun being kids again is great. Most of these kids have had their childhoods taken away from them.”
Quick 4 with Matt D’Arrigo:
What have you read lately?
9 Things a Leader Must Do (Dr. Henry Cloud), Managing Uncertainty (Harvard Business Review),
What's on your iPod?
Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, Brett Dennen,
What do you watch?
The Office, Daily Show, News, Discovery Channel
If you could live somewhere else for two years, where would it be? Why?
Turkey. It’s where my wife is from. We have been there for vacation but I would love to live there to learn and live the culture a bit more. They have a house on a small island off Istanbul where there are no cars – just bikes and horse drawn carriages. It’s a very peaceful place to go lose yourself for a while.
- Andy Rinde and JoAnne Berg are working with ARTS on a Business Operations Review and several related projects.
- David Johnson is consulting with the Corporation for Supportive Housing on staffing and outsourcing issues.
- David Lynn referred an outside agency, the Community Christian Service Agency, which has requested a board level presentation on "Managing in Tough Economic Times" and "Developing a Vision for the Future".
- A Business Operations Review is planned for mid-July for La Cuna.
- Peggy Kidd has sent information about the Team to several former investees who may need our help.
- Phyllis Huckabee has drafted a terrific Human Resources Capacity Evaluation checklist.
- Joyce Ross assisted Angels with their search for a new Director of Development, including participating in interviews.
- JoAnne Berg is consulting with investees Angels and Elderhelp, assisting in their staff training and financial statement preparation.
- JoAnne Berg made a Board presentation to Angels on "Reading and Understanding your Financial Statements" and met with the Finance Committee of Elderhelp to review their year to date results.
- Bill Hahn is working with LaCuna, providing a top-level CFO type review of their financials each month before they go to the Board.
- Sherri Neasham is coordinating a "forum" of lead partners and resource team heads to meet and brainstorm about what's going on with our investees and make sure that the resource teams are coordinating their efforts.
We have room for many more Partners on our team. If you're interested in getting involved, please email Resource Team Chair JoAnne Berg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 26, 2009
Read below to learn more about Angels’s capacity building and program accomplishments.
Capacity Building Accomplishments
- Increased Staff and Budget
- Engaged and active Board of 17 members, well-functioning committees
- By-laws revised
- Larger and more attractive office space
- Financial reporting and control systems in place
- Consistent branding through UCSD Marketing class and SVP assistance
- Website revised, functions as main foster family recruitment source
- Evaluation Study conducted by Children’s Hospital, demonstrated positive, measurable outcomes
- Strategic Planning Process in place
- Fund Development Plan created with case statement
- More stable funding base (individual donors and foundations that give funds in consistent years)
Growth in Babies Placed
- Year 1 – 33 babies
- Year 2 – 64 babies
- Year 3 – 54 babies (as of May 31)
Growth in Foster Familes Certified
- Year 1 – 9 certified
- Year 2 – 29 certified
- Year 3 - 18 certfied (As of May 31)
Growth in Revenue
Revenue generated in Calendar Year:
- Year 2006 $298,480
- Year 2007 $317,812
- Year 2008: $387,168
- Five months into May 2009: $210,753
SDSVP Partner Support
- Accounting & Financial Management - JoAnne Berg
- Bookkeeping set-up (in house) – Lenore Hawkins
- Board Development and By-Laws Revision - Joyce Ross, Richard Bockoff and Gary Kloehn
- Marketing and Mission – Richard Bockoff , Alan Sorkin, Sherri Neasham and Amy Larson
- Executive Selection - Joyce Ross
- Grant Assistance – Callie Craig
- Event Support – Diane Wintress and Amy Larson
- SVP Liaison - Peggy Kidd
- Lead Partners – Amy Larson and Joyce Ross
Social Venture Partners Gave $3.4 Million in Grants and Thousands of Hours in Volunteer Service to 132 Nonprofit Organizations in 2008
A key finding from the report on capacity building is that nonprofit organizations funded by SVP gave an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 when asked to rate the value of Partner time and talent in helping an organization build its capacity.
San Diego Social Venture Partners (SDSVP) is one of 24 chapters in the SVP network. SDSVP Partners currently make grants and provide business expertise to nonprofit organizations in the San Diego community serving youth and children, the elderly, and the homeless. In 2008, SDSVP gave $193,000 to 6 nonprofits along with 13,000 hours of volunteer service. Since 2001, San Diego Partners have given more than $1.45 million in grants to local recipients.
“SVP Partners were more engaged in 2008 than any year to date,” says Peggy Kidd, Executive Director at San Diego Social Venture Partners. “Despite the economic downturn, people are eager to get involved in their communities and give more than a financial contribution to a cause. The data shows new people are joining SVP because they see its model as a proven and effective way to make a difference.”
Fundamental to the SVP model is engagement in which members give of their time, professional experience and creativity to work in partnership with nonprofits and local leaders to meet community needs. Therefore, cash grants are only a portion of the value that grant recipients gain through their relationship with SVP. Partners also volunteer professional skills and strategic counsel to help nonprofits build capacity and make vital connections within the community. This level of engagement translates to a high level of satisfaction among donors/volunteers throughout the SVP network which is comprised of 24 affiliates in the United States, Canada and Tokyo.
“I think SDSVP is a place where people can contribute a little money and some time in a meaningful way to help the San Diego community,” said Alan Sorkin, SDSVP Partner and SVP International President-Elect. “It is extremely rewarding. Whatever you contribute, you will get back many times over.”
The total number of grants awarded by an SVP affiliate in 2008 ranged from $25,000 to $855,500, with a median of $115,000. Since its inception in 1997, the SVP network has made $32.2 million in grant investments to 335 nonprofit organizations.
About San Diego SVP
San Diego Social Venture Partners (SDSVP) develops philanthropy and volunteerism for the purpose of positive social change in San Diego County. Using the venture capital approach – contributing expertise, time and money – we are committed to creating partnerships that build successful and sustainable nonprofit organizations. To learn more about SDSVP, please visit http://www.sdsvp.org/.
About Social Venture Partners International
Social Venture Partners International (SVPI) is the membership association for Social Venture Partners – an international network comprised of 2,000 accomplished individuals who combine their professional skills and financial contributions with a passion for philanthropy. Partners belong to local SVP affiliates and SVPI supports each affiliate by providing technology, professional development, an annual conference and peer networking opportunities designed to share knowledge and promote best practices throughout the network. The Social Venture Partners network currently has 24 affiliates located throughout the United States, Canada and Tokyo. To learn about starting an SVP affiliate in your city or for more information on Social Venture Partners, please visit http://www.svpi.org/.
A newly launched San Diego social venture provided the solution. IdeaEncore Network is peer-to-peer, on-line learning marketplace (like Amazon or eBay) for nonprofits and those who support them to share, sell, and buy all types and forms of practical knowledge and information assets. Almost anything nonprofits might need can be shared and found - including ready-to-use tools, templates, grant proposals, grant tracking tools, training content, policies, procedures and plans. Started by Scott Bechtler-Levin (co-founder of Pacific Ridge School and technology entrepreneur) and Flo Green (recently retired ED for the California Association of Nonprofits), the website launched in February and has quickly attracted quality content and the attention of nonprofit executives around the country.
Checkout SDSVP’s “Best Practices Checklists.” Just a week since we posted these checklists, 180 nonprofits from across the country have already viewed them and 2 organizations have bought the “bundle” for $45 each. So, with very little effort, SDSVP has created our own social enterprise while helping spread our mission to other nonprofit communities. Sharing documented knowledge is another great way SDSVP is increasing the return on our philanthropic investments. Everyone wins!
June 2, 2009
When Angela Hill engages with a client she follows an unusual path for a creative agency owner: she works through a deliberate and structured branding analysis of the client firm to develop their personality, promise and positioning. One she and the client have agreement on those attributes, she says, she can be highly efficient in producing designs that the client will love. The secret is alignment.
“Most creative agencies use what I call the ‘spaghetti method:’ they throw a bunch of designs up and hope something sticks,” says Hill, owner of San Diego-based Incitrio, who says that as a result of such haphazard processes, final logo design can easily take a dozen back-and-forths between agency and client before a final design is selected. In contrast, Incitrio’s clients usually settle on a design in just two or three rounds. “When you have agreement on your personality, promise and positioning prior to design, the process always goes much more smoothly.”
Such a structured approach to business is one of the things Hill loves about San Diego Social Venture Partners. The group’s thoughtful deliberation and structured processes resonate with Hill. Hill became involved with SDSVP after meeting Alan Sorkin at the American Marketing Association Cause Conference. Her firm designed SDSVP's annual report for the past two years, and she eventually became a Partner. “What I really like about SDSVP is that there are really strong processes that support any action the group takes,” she says.
“You get to work with talented, dedicated and knowledgeable people who are coming together for non-profits,” says Hill. “It’s not just money, and it’s not just expertise, but it’s the collaboration of the two coming together that creates great results.”
Hill started her branding agency Incitrio in 2004, after a series of design and computer positions in San Diego, San Francisco and her native St. Louis. Her trek to design was highly unusual: she used to be a computer nerd! “I did programming in grade school and high school, and programmed my own games,” she says, adding that teaching FORTRAN to engineering students was one of the things that helped pay her way through college at Washington University in St. Louis.
Now that computer gaming is a red-hot industry, does Hill regret abandoning it? Not at all, she says, citing the archetypal working conditions of the gaming industry. “I really like computers, but I don’t like living and working in a cave. I realized I am a social person and that I would never be happy spending all day in the dark.”
After working several post-graduation jobs, Hill decided she needed to escape Missouri: “I am a very open, creative and accepting person, and in St. Louis there tend to be a lot of very conservative close-minded people,” she says. “I did not belong in St. Louis.”
After attending a conference in San Francisco and falling in love with the city, she moved there without a job or a home. Answering an ad, she within a week became a computer services manager at a Kinko’s, where she honed her technology, design and business management skills. In addition to managing technology, Hill was put in charge of a 10-person internal design shop that became the 3rd largest in the chain, generating $100,000 in revenue a month.
Eventually moving on, Hill worked for several firms where she did design work for companies such as Intel, Ford, Sega, Hallmark, Williams Sonoma, Foster Farms, Visa, Sun Microsystems and Merrill Lynch.
Hill met her future husband, real estate developer Daniel Kornbluth, in San Francisco and moved back to his hometown of San Diego to get married and start a family. It was here, that after receiving what she considered an extremely low offer of partnership at a design firm, she decided to strike out on her own.
Hill’s big break came just six months after she started when she acquired the business of another design firm, whose husband-and-wife owners were divorcing and leaving the area. The couple’s primary concern was design consistency, and Hill’s designs fit well with theirs. Incitrio took over the business and grew exponentially.
Business takes a great deal of Hill’s time, but she treasures her time at home with her husband and boys, Max, 7, and Sammy, 5. The family enjoys Disneyland once a month and hiking every other week at Torrey Pines, and on a random trail on the weekends in between. On Saturday mornings, you’ll often find her singing and dancing with the kids playing air instruments for their imaginary fans, while Daniel cooks up a hearty breakfast in the kitchen nearby.
When she’s not busy, singing rock ballads with the kids, she enjoys singing opera at home or in the car. “I am a classically trained coloratura soprano,” says Hill, who has sung Italian Opera. “It’s funny because my kids tell me to stop singing and my husband tells them they don’t know how lucky they are to have a mother who can actually sing on pitch!”