Paul Brainerd

Entrepreneur, Founder, Social Venture Partners

Paul Brainerd was working as a newspaper reporter, when desktop computers were invented. He wanted to be able to use computers to publish newspapers. So, he started a company (Aldus Corporation) that made “desktop publishing” software (PageMaker). This company was very successful, and when he sold it, Brainerd wanted to use the money to do something to help preserve nature in the Pacific Northwest, where he lives.

He wasn’t sure where to start, so he talked to a lot of different people and non-profit organizations to figure out how to best use his money to help his local environment. He got a lot of good advice, and he and his sister decided to start The Brainerd Foundation to protect the local natural environment and to get other people involved in this mission.

The research he did before he started the Brainerd Foundation was a valuable experience. Brainerd realized that he was not the only person who had just made a lot of money in the software industry – there were suddenly lots of technology millionaires who wanted to do good in the world with the money they had earned, but weren’t sure how to do it.

Brainerd started talking to these people, and realized that these really smart people had more to give than just money – they knew how to run a successful organization, and they knew lots of other smart people who wanted to help! Brainerd saw an opportunity to help connect these business leaders with non-profits who could really use their assistance.

With some other Seattle business leaders, he started an organization called Social Venture Partners, that got business leaders involved in helping non-profits, not just with their money, but with their advice, and with their connections in the community. Now there are 39 Social Venture Partner chapters all over the world, with 3500 partners who have contributed $50 million dollars in grants to help more than 300 non-profit organizations be successful.

You can read more about Social Venture Partners and Paul Brainerd at: http://www.socialventurepartners.org/seattle/2011/07/18/how-it-all-started/

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