SOCAP15 p2

Many key players in the social enterprise / impact investing space throughout the world converged in San Francisco this week for SOCAP15 (yup, that’s John Legend). I’ve been writing and tweeting about SOCAP since 2010, and I am thrilled to be attending this year. Also, a quick disclosure that some of the entities represented are our clients who are all doing wonderful work!

SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) is a world-renowned conference series dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good. Our annual flagship event in San Francisco is the leading gathering for impact investors and social entrepreneurs. We take a unique approach that emphasizes cross-sector convening and gathers voices across a broad spectrum to catalyze unexpected yet impactful connections. From the leading edge to established players, SOCAP brings together global innovators, investors, foundations, governments, institutions, and social entrepreneurs to build the world we want to leave to future generations. We actively seek out opportunities to accelerate the market at the intersection of money and meaning and, in pursuit of that goal, have convened more than 10,000 people since our founding in 2008.

Conference Themes

  • Impact Investing – “It’s been a banner year for impact investing and participation across sectors is accelerating the field into the mainstream”
  • Meaning – “At a conference that declares money can be a source of positive social change and not just a measure of success, we know that meaning is the foundation for lasting impact”
  • Divest/Invest – “University endowments and leading foundations have been responding to the call to divest from fossil fuels and invest in sustainable energy alternatives”
  • Financial Inclusion – “The growth of social capital markets requires an inclusive and accessible economy, but 2.5 billion adults globally, and more than 100 million in the United States, do not have access to bank accounts”
  • Neighborhood Economics – “Let’s accelerate the flow of capital into neighborhoods and rural communities, and distribute that capital more equitably in cities”
  • 21st Century Talent – “The growing impact economy needs a strong pipeline of talent, from entry level to top executives”
  • Living in the Future – “’Past performance is not an indicator of future results’ is truer than ever in the face of accelerating globalization, climate change, technology, and demographic shifts”
  • Sustainable Supply Chains – “From Fortune 500 companies to seed-stage startups, businesses are making investments to improve the sustainability of their supply chain, resulting in tremendous positive impact and delivering long-term financial benefit”

Pre-Conference Articles

Impact Investing and Equity Pledges: The New Landscape of Corporate Responsibility (Huffington Post)

SOCAP Conversations: Echoing Green President Cheryl Dorsey and Entrepreneur Michael Wilkerson

Highlights and Resources

Running list of highlights and resources. Follow me on Twitter – @GTak – for live tweeting of #SOCAP15.


  • If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story. – Ivan Illich
  • Academy of Country Music song of year winner Chuck Cannon performing Money Don’t Matter
  • Q: How do you mobilize millions of people? A: First you meet one person then another and then another (Cesar Chavez)
  • According to new UBI report, social incubators have created more than 90,000 jobs over the last 5 years.
  • Meet #SOCAP15’s 9 Gratitude Award Finalists in collaboration w/@GratitudeNet who were voted up from 550 #socents,
  • Learning about @thistlefarms from Becca Stevens – “you heal the women, you heal the village”
  • Smartest thing entrepreneurs have come up with – working w/ people with character #CharacterIsScalable – Xavier Helgesen


Opening Plenary

  • The value of @SOCAPmarkets: valuable strangers become unlikely allies when meeting between silos.
  • Leading by example – #SOCAP15 – no panel without women panelists; query why more social investments in Africa than in African Americans
  • When systems are broken, there are opportunities to create better systems. It’s a very American thing to do.
    • 400 wealthiest people in U.S. have more wealth than bottom 180 million combined (worse than in medieval era) – Gar Alperovitz
    • Prisoners in U.S. – 8x more per capita than any other country
  • Nation’s diversity is its greatest strength; we’re not taking advantage of this Trader PlanetAngela Glover Blackwell
    • “We are a nation in which racism has been built in – exclusion has been built in.”
    • “We won’t change the system without power, politics & policy.”
  • 40% of profits go into finance; it’s the most powerful force in the world and we can use it as a tool for impact
    • “Workers are a tool to often to create capital; capital instead can be a tool to empower workers” Brendan Martin
    • “What role do we play in finance to help communities determine their own destiny?” – Aaron Tanaka
  • No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. – Albert Einstein BALLE’s Michelle Long on systems change
    • “We have a lot of problems to fix but most of all we have to fix ourselves” – Pope Francis
  • Only when we can demonstrate market returns will institutional investors bring $ to the table – Lisa Hall
  • More and more of the best solutions are hybrid – the problems is most available funding is either commercial or philanthropic. – Ann Mei Chang USAID
    • Impact investing needs to effectively measure social impact and standardize hybrid instruments to make them easier to access
    • Uncomfortable perspective: perhaps funding isn’t moving fast enough to make this movement the catalyst we need
  • Employees with strong sense of purpose at least 4 times more likely to be engaged with their jobs, 3 times more likely to stay with their company; and their companies outperform peers by 10 times – Cheryl Dorsey
  • Bill Drayton of Ashoka says having one skill is no longer enough in our world of rapid change

Driving Social Innovation to Scale with Global NGOs

  • Innovation is just a path, impact is the destination – Chang

Local Investing is Impact Investing: the New 10x on Your Money

  • New Oregon Community Public Offering law – raise up to $250K from ALL Oregon residents Hatch

Lawyering for Impact

  • Choosing right #socent entity first is very important, incl in seeking out the capital with the right “patience” BUT form always follows function
  • When choosing among corporation, LLC, benefit corp, Certified B Corp, nonprofit corp, etc. – need a knowledgeable lawyer at start (not enough versed on all of these possible forms)
  • Create mission anchors through entity form, governing docs, impact deliverables (contractual), trademark/brand ownership (in tandem structures)

Blended Capital to Support Early Stage Entrepreneurs

  • How does a social funder demand specific impact metrics w/out unduly burdening entrepreneur’s business? Need new tools.
  • Revenue sustainability must anchor the impact – must be up-front and come with viable plan if grant funding part of the long-term plan
  • Entrepreneurs must be prepared to explain to investors why the business isn’t simply a bad one and must understand that the first investor isn’t a sucker.

Community Foundations as Leaders of Place-based Investing

  • Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth Mission Investors
  • To Find Real Prosperity, Community Foundations Are Exiting Wall Street HuffPo – M Long


  • Women own nearly half of all investable assets in the US
  • “Community members are not just stakeholders, they are the holders of solutions.”
  • “We don’t need any more new ideas or new money, we need better coordination and use of resources”
  • We think it is our fiduciary duty to track the social and financial performance of everything we are holding – Clara Miller, FB Heron Foundation
  • Tidal transfer of wealth in the next decade to women and millennials who will invest with their values – SSIR


Morning Plenary

  • Overall complexity of #impinv’s language and products is confusing to new entrants, says Christine Looney, Ford Foundation – simplicity needed
  • Next phase of #impinv: ease, suitability, liquidity; it’s got to be easier to do these deals – Debra Schwartz, MacArthur Fdn
  • Q: How do we include more mainstream financial advisors in the conversation, not just foundations talking to foundations?
  • Match-making for the supply & demand for #ImpInv is not enough in this market. We need to work on market making first
  • Fiduciary duty: what type of care, to whom and over what period of time?

LRNG: a New Model for Learning and for Changing Social Systems

  • LRNG will focus on what young students want and need, not what adults want to give them – Julia Stasch
  • The Show Me Campaign | elevating (not just highlighting) practices of great teachers – John Legend [Ed. Did you know John was a management consultant with Boston Consulting Group?]
  • Important demographics: Average American 42 yo; Average Latino 26-27 yo – Maria Teresa Kumar

How to Create a Phenomenal Giving Experience

  • Educating/engaging members/donors/advocates on issues impacting women around the world & best practices in #philanthropy – Jackie Rotman, SparkSF


  • “What’s completely outperformed its bench mark: investing in women and girls.”
  • “Don’t be in love with your solution, be in love with solving the problem.”
  • 49% boomers, 70% gen X, 85% millennials; 40% more women then men – want to invest with social & environmental returns
  • Are we at risk for impact washing with new trad investor entrants? The industry needs to be vigilant at how we measure results
  • Consumer activism and shareholder advocacy should go hand-in-hand – e.g., Amazon – Taren Stinebrickner-KauffmanSumOfUs
  • Strongly consider: nonprofit impact may be bigger than for-profit impact (esp in changes made through advocacy, campaigns)
  • Recap from Devex – Breaking down silos at the intersection of meaning and money (video)
  • SOCAP Recap: OPTIMISM … With a Dash of Skepticism – Next Billion



  • “The best 5 minutes of #SOCAP15 for me was this conversation on access to capital for diverse entrepreneurs” – Evo Heyning
  • Defining impact: depth or breadth as scale? Business pushes breadth measured quantitatively, need to prioritise qualitative depth
  • Blending Public, Private & Philanthropic Capital for ‘Deep Impact’ via @impactalpha #SOCAP15
  • The consequences of impact investing on philanthropy HuffPo
  • If there’s a market solution for a social problem, use a for-profit; leave donations for nonprofits to address problems without a market soln’s – Bill Strathmann, Network for Good (Network for Good ‘converted’ from nonprofit to for-profit in a manner to preserve its soul and mission)
  • “Opportunity is about shared privilege”
  • “Humility, relationship & listening (what’s needed to heal racism). We have to value humans as much as profit.” – Nikki Silvestri
  • “The resolution will be financed.”