SOCAP 2016: A New Chapter

Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) is a conference series dedicated to exploring, innovating and collaborating around the ideas and solutions that can increase the flow of capital toward social good. The annual flagship event concluded last week at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, CA.

SOCAP has played a special role within the Impact Investing field since the first conference in 2008. It has continued to draw crowds of impact investors, social enterprises, field-builders and thought-leaders to discuss the latest and greatest in Impact Investing.

In recent years, particularly as the Impact Investing movement has gained serious traction, the need for SOCAP to expand beyond “the choir” to include major investors—inclusive of asset managers and owners—has never been more important. Similarly, the need to shift conversations from Impact Investing being an “emerging field” to a “growing industry” has been much needed.

We observed that shift this year, and were happy to be a part of it.

Members of the Case Foundation team travelled to SOCAP last week to engage in a global conversation around money and meaning. We left with a renewed sense of inspiration, as well as fresh ideas for collaboration. Here are a few of our key takeaways from the week:

1. We’re no longer discussing the “emerging field” of Impact Investing. It has emerged.

Since the Impact Investing field was first formalized, much of the conference has focused around persuading broad audiences to embrace it. For the impact community, it has been particularly challenging to bring along mainstream investors to explore another tool in their investment toolbox.

This year, however, numerous individuals in the opening plenaries, panels, sessions and breakouts had a different message. No longer were experts advocating for the importance of Impact Investing, but rather that Impact Investing is already here. In a time of finite resources, heightened importance around business sustainability, need for holistic risk assessment and demand for matching capital with individual values, the question of whether Impact Investing is real has been answered.

Instead, there was an intentional pivot to “how?” How do we make Impact Investing tools broadly accessible to diverse markets and audiences? How do we equip wealth advisors, CIOs and institutional investors with the knowledge, training and resources they need to explore the integration of Impact Investing into their product suite? How do fiduciaries continue to meet stringent expectations around their financial duty, while also responsibly integrating impact? The signaling here is critical, and we were pleased to see the thoughtful and creative conversations around how to address these questions.

To dig deeper, check out a recap of our session on Thursday about leveraging the advisor community as a gateway to Impact Investing.

2. Levelling the entrepreneurship playing field is a must.

Just as the rhetoric around Impact Investing has changed in recent years, so has the conversation around entrepreneurship. At SOCAP, a concentrated effort has been made to provide entrepreneurs with a chance to connect, pitch and seek mentorship. But that’s not the only way the conversation has changed; an entire track of the conference this year focused on inclusive entrepreneurship. These sessions tackled important topics of diversity and inclusion across race and gender within entrepreneurship, and brought to light both critical shortcomings and tremendous benefits from access and opportunity for all of our changemakers.

At the Case Foundation, entrepreneurship has always been a big part of how we think about our movement catalyzation efforts. For nearly 20 years, we’ve continued to believe in entrepreneurship as a driving force behind growth, development—and importantly—inclusion. To that end, SOCAP was an opportunity to give a sneak peek of our #FacesofFounders campaign with a photo and storytelling booth at the Festival Pavilion. In partnership with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the Case Foundation’s #FacesofFounders campaign will shine a spotlight on the millions of diverse entrepreneurs in America, and reinforce the importance of an inclusive approach to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs and supporters of entrepreneurs were invited to take free headshots, share their stories, showcase their varied backgrounds and share their journeys of learning and success.

SOCAP Photo Booth

Check out a recording of Senior Vice President Sheila Herrling’s lively panel, Am I an Entrepreneur?, with changemakers Monique Woodard, Tony Tolentino and Kelechi Anyadiegwu.

3. Transparency is essential.

In the Impact Investing space, metrics, measurement and the data that supports these activities have observed a transformation in both necessity and importance. Often considered a cumbersome demand of early Impact Investing activity, measurement, tracking and transparency are essential in getting the field to scale.

During SOCAP, we co-hosted a standing room only session on open data for social good with ImpactSpace and SODA. Investors, entrepreneurs and field-builders crowded in to watch rapid-fire presentations from data-powered platform creators, who have all committed to innovate around the way we gather and share data. This is indicative of a growing community of data experts and stakeholders looking to advance the practice of effective collaboration through powerful, user-friendly tools.

Network Map Body

At the Case Foundation, our movement building efforts have included collaborative partnerships to sophisticate and streamline data accessibility, including impact measurement, investment reporting and research. Our work on the Impact Investing Network Map is one such way we’re hoping to bring in investors and organizations looking to engage in the space. Primarily, the Map will allow a visual overlay of transaction-led relationships across the Impact Investing industry and enable users to filter information by asset class, geography, and impact area. Through a partnership with ImpactSpace, and using data from CrunchBase, we’re hoping to demonstrate just where the relationships exist, tangibly bust through the myth that the field is still nascent, and work together to change how we talk about data.

Want to check out more on the Impact Investing Network Map? Sign up to be an early tester and submit your data directly to the platform!

We were thrilled to see our movement areas—Impact Investing and Inclusive Entrepreneurship—collide at SOCAP, and witness the momentum building around each of them. We look forward to continuing to forge strong partnerships in these areas, to build on these movements and reach tipping point.

Reaching Beyond Your Bubble to Forge Strong Partnerships

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
-African Proverb

At the Case Foundation we are big believers in reaching beyond our bubble to forge and foster partnerships—sometimes unlikely ones. Over the years we have seen time and again that by linking arms with new people from across sectors we can achieve far greater impact than what we could have accomplished on our own.

For example, on two America’s Giving Challenges, $900K in grants and partnerships with Network for Good, Global Giving, Causes and PARADE led to more than $4M in donations for worthwhile causes and helped to inspire the creation of similar initiatives like the $20M Pepsi Refresh Challenge and the $20M Chase Community Giving campaign.

And our investment of $1M in grants and in-kind support for the Startup America Partnership led to nearly $500M of in-kind commitments to support startups from companies like American Airlines, American Express, Microsoft, Google, and others. There are so many inspiring examples—and certainly not just our own—of successful partnerships between nonprofits, corporations and government that have unleashed billions of dollars and sparked innovation.

At events and convenings across the country this month, we will be looking for more ways to move beyond our bubble and start relationships with the potential to unlock new opportunities.

Best for the World, September 8

The Best for the World Gathering at the University of California, Berkeley, in partnership with the Haas School of Business and the Center for Responsible Business will lift up companies whose groundbreaking business models are best for workers, communities and the environment. The Case Foundation will join students and business leaders at Best for the World to build relationships and celebrate the positive impact business can have in the world.

2016 UBS Philanthropy Forum – Americas, September 12-13

I’m excited to sit down with Silvia Bastante de Unverhau the Head of Philanthropy Advisory at UBS at the UBS Philanthropy Forum to delve into innovative approaches to philanthropy. There, I will be sharing my perspectives on how financial capital can be put to work to create significant social change.

Social Capital Markets (SOCAP), September 13-16 

Being called the conference at the intersection of money and meaning, Social Capital Markets or #SOCAP16 promises to bring together more than 500 changemakers, social entrepreneurs and impact investors representing  foundations, corporations and global nonprofits. In addition to making new connections in San Francisco, members of the Case Foundation team will be leading an impact investing data session, hosting a story booth and, from the main stage, challenging common stereotypes about entrepreneurship.

Social Good Summit, September 18-19

Mashable’s Social Good Summit will examine the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives. Fully epitomizing the spirit of forging strong partnerships, the Social Good Summit brings together global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions to our biggest challenges and tap the potential of technology to make the world a better place. I’m looking forward to to speaking at the Social Good Summit, helping to answer the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” #2030NOW

ComNet, September 28-30

Later this month, Detroit hosts the Communications Network’s annual conference—known as the premier global leadership gathering for foundation and nonprofit leaders committed to building a better world through the smart use of strategic communications. The Case Foundation’s communications team will be there to share their own best practices and to learn, connect and collaborate.

Council on Foundations Endowments and Finance Summit, September 28-30  

I will take the stage with Vikki Spruill, President & CEO of the Council on Foundations, Dr. Jason Winged, Dean and Professor in the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University and Randall Lane, Editor of Forbes at the Council on Foundations Endowments and Finance Summit in New York City. During the session we will discuss the role of philanthropy in responding to growing community needs and for being effective catalysts for social change.

Even though it can be more comfortable to go it alone, partnerships with new players and across sectors should be embraced since more often than not, innovation happens at intersections and comes from new combinations.

If you plan on being at any of these events this month please introduce yourself. We are looking forward to reaching beyond our bubble in new and exciting ways this month.

Nine Sessions to Catch at SOCAP 2016

As we say goodbye to summer and hello to September, for many of us working in the social impact field that means getting ready for one of the sectors’ biggest events—Social Capital Markets, or SOCAP. This year the Case Foundation team is looking forward to engaging with our partners along with a growing network of impact focused investors, entrepreneurs, consumers and professionals at SOCAP.

SOCAP started in 2008 with a small group of investors who were determined to make their money work, not only for financial returns but also for social benefit; it is now one of the largest annual conferences for impact investors and social entrepreneurs globally. When we at the Case Foundation launch something new, we like to give a sneak-peek to great audiences, and the counsel from SOCAP changemakers makes it a perfect conference to work on enhancing the potential impact of our work.

That’s why at this year’s SOCAP, which takes place from September 13 – 16 in San Francisco, CA, we’re thrilled that the two movements we’re driving—impact investing and inclusive entrepreneurship—will be front and center. We can’t wait to share a few of our ideas and take the opportunity to learn from other incredible innovators at SOCAP. Here are just a few of next week’s standout sessions and programs; we hope to see you there!


9:00 AM – 6:00 PM – Faces of Founders Story Booth
It’s time to level the playing field when it comes to entrepreneurship for women and communities of color. It’s time to change the narrative and bust myths of what an entrepreneur does and doesn’t look like. Stop by the Festival Pavilion at booth 104 on Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and join the Case Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation to take your free headshot and learn more about the upcoming Faces of Founders campaign. Come show the diverse backgrounds and approaches of entrepreneurs today and share your best advice on how to make this campaign a huge success.

10:45 AM – Accelerator Effectiveness in Developing Countries
Around the globe, entrepreneurs are turning to accelerator programs for support to grow their businesses, so how do we know if they’re effective or not? Ross Baird, Executive Director at Village Capital and other ecosystem innovators will lead small group discussions about the programmatic and environmental elements that determine an accelerator’s outcomes. Make your way to BATS! Annex at 10:45 AM to be a part of the conversation.

10:45 AM – Impact Unicorns: Can We Have Our Cake and Eat it Too?
A group of true impact investing powerhouses will take part in a panel at Cowell Theater at 10:45 AM to cover one of the biggest questions in impact investing: Can investors have their cake (financial returns) and eat it, too (impact returns)? The panel will feature the funds and firms—Elevar Equity, MicroVest, DBL Partners, Core Innovation Capital and ImpactAssets—that do just that, the so-called “Impact Unicorns.”

12:00 PM – Mapping the Impact Investing Landscape with Collaborative Data – Demos
Interested in the growing applicability and necessity of open data and collaboration in the impact investing and social good market? Be sure to join the Case Foundation’s SVP of Social Innovation, Sheila Herrling who will be co-hosting a conversation on open data for social good with ImpactSpace and SODA (Social Data Commons) at 12:00 PM in Firehouse. The session will feature rapid-fire presentations from innovative data-powered platform creators and hands-on demos in a collaborative environment. Stop by to try out the tools for yourself and get a preview of our soon-to-launch impact investing ecosystem map.

1:15 PM – Collaborative Data for Social Good – Just Do It!
Make sure you stick around for the collaboration workshop directly following the Mapping the Landscape session, which will be led by the great minds behind SODA in Firehouse at 1:15 PM. This workshop is for all who are serious about working together to build the connective infrastructure needed to create a more connected and efficient infrastructure.


9:00 AM – 6:00 PM – Faces of Founders Story Booth
If you couldn’t make it out on Wednesday for your photo, be sure to stop by on Thursday!

11:00 AM – Impactful Matchmaking: How Investment Advisors First Talk Impact with Clients
The early interactions between investors and their advisors are critical—particularly given that many more people express interest in impact investing than actually move to action. The Case Foundation’s VP of Social Innovation, Rehana Nathoo will join a panel of impact investment leaders and trendsetters from Tideline, ImpactAssets, The CAPROCK Group, Morgan Stanley and Cambridge Associates to discuss how advisors and their clients can talk about impact investing, and what we need to get to scale, at 11:00 AM in Cowell Theater.

4:00 PM – Am I an Entrepreneur? Challenging the Stereotypes
How can the stories we tell and the words we use to tell them help to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses? Hear from Sheila Herrling, SVP of Social Innovation from the Case Foundation, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, 500 Startups and Zuvaa African Fashion at the Festival Mainstage at 4:00 PM, on what challenges and opportunities diverse entrepreneurs face when building their brands and successful companies.

4:00 PM – Measure What Matters: Unveiling the New B Impact Assessment Tool
If you’re curious about a tool that is helping to direct investment into the companies that are creating high quality jobs, strengthening communities and preserving the environment, then you may want to check out this session in C230 at 4:00 PM, hosted by the nonprofit B Lab. Case Foundation Program Officer, Sean Tennerson will join a panel of investors that are using or developing strategies to use the B Impact Assessment, which just got a big overhaul.


11:00 AM – Best of Cities: How to Teach All Businesses in Your City about Impact
Is it possible to have every business in a city learn how to solve locally entrenched issues? Yes! Stop by BATS! Theater at 11:00 AM to hear how B Lab and New York City started a citywide program to teach all businesses—not just those that drink their Kool Aid—how to create high quality jobs, strengthen communities and preserve the environment.

We are excited to collaborate with innovators working toward new solutions within both of our movements and we look forward to seeing you at #SOCAP16.

SXSW 2017 PanelPicker – Vote Today

Every year the Case Foundation and our partners submit innovative and compelling panel ideas for consideration to be included at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW). Last year, we were excited to host or be a part of 12 amazing sessions at SXSW, ranging from inclusive entrepreneurship to online movement building through hashtags. All included incredible speakers, invaluable lessons and memorable quotes to walk away with.

This year, we’ve submitted 11 fantastic panel ideas for the SXSW PanelPicker process, and we need your help to vote to get them to SXSW 2017. Below are descriptions of each panel, along with the link that takes you directly to the page to vote for that session, and a tweet for you to share with your networks to help spread the word. Find your favorite panels below and be sure to vote by September 2, 2016!

Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship

Vote at:

SXSWPanel_Ent4AllJeanHow can we level the playing field for all entrepreneurs—particularly women and people of color—in all places in order to create stronger communities, close the opportunity gap and scale creative solutions to persistent problems? Join tech pioneer and investor Jean Case as she challenges the traditional notions that entrepreneurs are wealthy, white men in this discussion on how women and entrepreneurs of color are fueling economic growth and creating scalable businesses. Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Explore the journeys of fearless entrepreneurs of color and women who are changing what it means to be a startup founder.


Tweet this: Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Vote for “Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship” in the #SXSWPanelPicker


Emerging Explorers Changing the World Through Tech

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SXSWPanel_ExplorersNational Geographic is one of the world’s largest scientific and education organizations working to turn interest into action—to inspire people to care about the planet and protect it through exploration. Through the Emerging Explorers program, they unite fearless young scientists, conservationists, storytellers, and innovators who are harnessing technology to expand the frontiers of exploration. Join Jean Case and Gary Knell of National Geographic as they highlight the next generation of explorers who are taking risks, being bold and failing forward to change the world through technology for good.



Tweet this: #SXSWPanelPicker Vote to hear how @NatGeoExplorers harness #tech to expand frontiers of exploration #BeFearless


Using Data to Unlock Capital

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SXSWPanel_DataCapitalAcross the country, data scientists and developers are working alongside experts in the impact market to forge connections through data that can scale innovative social businesses. Sounds great! So what’s the problem? Data can be hard to come by and the path to connecting people to good data isn’t always clear. Luckily, a growing number of tools with innovative, data-powered interfaces are being developed right now that empower investors, consumers and entrepreneurs to make informed, socially responsible decisions with strong information. What’s ultimately decided around data transparency and reliability has the potential to change the future of how we invest in and grow transformative ideas.


Tweet this: How can data unlock capital for social impact? Vote to help this panel get to #SXSW #impinv


How to Fundraise Without Silicon Valley

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SXSWPanel_FundraiseSVWe are witnessing a new wave of investment and entrepreneurship in the United States. How can we level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color to fund, grow and scale their thriving businesses? Learn both investor and entrepreneur perspectives on what it takes to build and back inspiring companies and bring the deal process to life for diverse founders.




Tweet this: How can we level the field for women & entrepreneurs of color to fund, grow & scale? Vote this panel to #SXSW


Best of SXSW

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SXSWPanel_BLabBusinesses are the engine of economic growth, and B Lab believes that they are also an engine for good social and environmental outcomes. Best of SXSW invites business leaders at SXSW to measure, compare and improve their impact. Take the Quick Impact Assessment to see how your business stacks up, then learn how you can improve your score and your impact. Hear from the B Lab team and meet other local and global business leaders striving to improve the quality of life for their employees, customers and communities. B Lab is seeking to empower all businesses to be a force for good by measuring what matters, and now you can be a part of the movement.


Tweet this: Vote to hear @BCorporation & @CaseFoundation at #SXSW on how business can be a force for #good


Going Live With 2 Billion Of Your Closest Friends

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SXSWPanel_FBLiveTake a deep dive into Facebook Live with digital leaders from the Case Foundation, AJ+ and Facebook. Explore how brands are captivating audiences and using powerful, real-time storytelling through the largest social media platform in the world. From going live with refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, to bringing Broadway to the digital world, to activating the Millennial generation for good, learn from our panelists’ wealth of experience covering global events and high-profile influencers. This workshop will leave participants with tangible methods to experiment and expand their own Facebook Live activations. Leave with best practices on how to set up a quality broadcast on any budget.


Tweet this: Take a deep dive into #FacebookLive w/digital leaders @CaseFoundation @ajplus @Facebook. Vote for this #SXSW panel:


Follow the Crowd—for Good

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SXSWPanel_GoodWorldCrowdfunding is changing the landscape for nonprofit fundraising online. Today there is a growing phenomenon, with dozens of platforms helping organizations using crowd-based tools to reach and exceed their fundraising goals. Join digital pioneers and fundraising champions from the Case Foundation, GoodWorld and more as we explore new and tested approaches to crowdfunding, the power of experimentation, how to tailor creative projects for your campaigns, and what’s new in rewards-based fundraising. Learn how to unlock the power of crowdfunding to drive new innovations, advance game-changing projects and ultimately harness energy and dollars to change the world.


Tweet this: Follow the Crowd — for Good! Vote on #SXSWPanelPicker to learn how crowdfunding is changing nonprofit fundraising:


Virtual Reality—A New Lens for Social Change

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SXSWPanel_VR4GoodVirtual reality is taking the multimedia world by storm. Whether you’ve been transported to Pluto, melting glaciers, or the frontlines of the refugee crisis, immersive video experiences such as these are transforming how stories are being told and experiences are being shared. The ability to bring an issue to life such as hunger, poverty, climate change and countless other challenges is game changing for the social sector. Join us as we explore the new frontiers of virtual reality with leading technology developers and storytellers who are using VR for Good.



  • Emily Yu, The Case Foundation (@DCxchange)
  • Sally Smith, The Nexus Fund (@Smith_Sally)
  • Chris Milk  (@milk)

Tweet this: Vote to help the panel “Virtual Reality – A New Lens for Social Change” make it to #SXSW


How Elections Change Next Gen Cause Engagement

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SXSWPanel_10Fact: Millennials value cause engagement. But what happens during an election year? Could politics possibly influence how this generation participates in social causes? In November, we learn not only who the next President of the United States will be, but also, for the first time, we are able to track and document the impact of an election on the way in which Millennials engage with social causes. Through the 2016 Millennial Impact Report, Achieve and the Case Foundation identified what—if any—demographic factors are connected to engagement trends. Join us as we release the final wave of survey results exclusively at SXSW and share how organizations can motivate this generation.


Tweet this: Learn How Elections Change NextGen Cause Engagement – vote to see this panel at #SXSW:


Gaming for Good: Changemaking Becomes A Gamechanger

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SXSWPanel_Gaming4GoodIncentivizing people to do good is nothing new… but making it fun and entertaining, now that’s a more recent shift in how changemaking is conceived, thought of and done. Whether it is through raising money through crowdfunding platforms; offering prizes in exchange for actions taken; or watching your favorite gamer play a game and tipping them—knowing that a portion of the money will go to support a nonprofit. The increasing popularity of gamification for good online is helping to bring forth new models of engagement that are creating real world solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges. Find out how games are fundamentally changing how change is made.


Tweet this: How is #gaming fundamentally changing how change is made? Vote to see this panel @ #SXSW


How Media Brands Thrive 100+ Years Later

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SXSWPanel_Media100YrsMore than 200 years of content and rich history exists between the global media powerhouses of National Geographic and Atlantic Magazine. While new technology and changing business models usher in a steady stream of competition, these brands continue to thrive. So what sets them apart? Learn from the media platforms that have adapted over decades and are still publishing today reaching nearly 1 billion consumers across the globe. Explore the evolution of their digital platforms, the shifts in American news consumption, trends that are captivating the media industry, key findings on the habits of the modern news consumer, and the standout traits of the most enduring media brands.


Tweet this: 200+ yrs of experience exist btwn @NatGeo & @TheAtlantic —Vote 4 this #SXSW panel on how 100 yo media brands thrive

Trailblazing Women in Impact Investing

Special thanks to Ramya Tallapragada, intern with the Case Foundation, for her contributions to this blog.

In the years since the Case Foundation became a champion for impact investing, the movement has really taken off. In the U.S. and around the world, there has been a flurry of activity among traditional investors, policymakers, philanthropists and researchers. We’ve seen traditional investors begin to realize the value of private capital deployed for good, without the need to sacrifice profit. We’ve seen concerted efforts from the social sector to build necessary infrastructure for the impact investing and social enterprise community. We’ve seen government catalyze progress by enacting policy changes to increase the amount of capital available for good. We’ve seen impact investments empower entrepreneurs with transformative ideas to solve real world problems.

The impact investing movement also stands out in another important way: women are emerging as a driving force behind its growth—as investors, as entrepreneurs and as leaders of the movement. A recent NASDAQ piece notes that women are spearheading and populating this sector more so than any other financial services sector. I suppose there are a host of reasons why this is, but I particularly like a quote by Jackie VanderBrug of U.S. Trust in this article:

“I wouldn’t want to say it’s pink, but it has been a field where, philosophically, women have led. Part of that is because women have a more holistic view of investment. Yes, they do care about returns, but they also care about the role of their investments in society. It’s partly because they are looking for more opportunities to differentiate themselves. And it’s partly because they are looking to meet objectives beyond the benchmarks.”

A recent Calvert Investments report asserts that women, along with younger investors, will drive the growth of impact investing. In a study of affluent women, Calvert found that 95 percent ranked “helping others” and 90 percent ranked “environmental responsibility” as important. Women have also demonstrated that they often make purchasing decisions based on their personal values. Still, only 4 percent said that they understood how to make investments that align with their values. 70 percent did not know about sustainable or responsible investing.

While business and investing continues to focus on boomers, this data shows the importance of ensuring that women are aware of impact investing strategies. Remember, their purchasing power and, therefore, their potential social impact power is enormous—women control 39 percent of investible assets in the U.S. That number will continue to rise, as 50 percent of private wealth in the U.S. will be in the hands of women by 2020. And, amongst that group, it’s worth keeping an eye on Generation X and Millennials set to inherit $41 trillion of wealth over the next 40 years, with a higher degree of millennial women who are educated and look to have decision making power (vs. their male counterparts).

Education about opportunities and the how-to’s of impact investing remain an essential component of leveraging the impact of women in impact investing. Activating more investment dollars into the space is what’s required to tip the movement from niche concept to mainstream investment strategy. And typically in the early stages of movement catalyzing, we require some “Be Fearless” actors just “doing it” as we say in our Short Guide to Impact Investing.

Here are some of the fearless women leading the charge. It’s by no means comprehensive, but rather a spotlight on the mix of players from philanthropy, the investment community, the financial services industry and government:

In Philanthropy:

  • I would be remiss not to start with our own Jean Case*. She is an avid champion of the concept of putting private capital to public good. Her work on the U.S. National Advisory Board for Impact Investing helped craft a hugely successful coalition of change agents around a collective policy agenda. And she remains one of the most powerful influencers in the field, as an advocate, an ecosystem builder and an investor.
  • Clara Miller*, after assuming leadership of the Heron Foundation in 2010, has led the foundation’s effort to deploy all of its assets towards its mission, breaking down the traditional method of giving within the organization and ensuring that impact investing was totally integrated into the foundation’s operations and mission.
  • Debra Schwartz* has led the MacArthur Foundation’s impact investing arm for 15 years, directing capital to improving affordable rental housing across the U.S.
  • Laura Arnold, co-Chair of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, is a leading advocate and supporter of Pay for Success, a potential break-through financing scheme for social ventures.
  • Kimberlee Cornett*, Managing Director of The Kresge Foundation’s Social Investment Practice, spearheads the foundation’s effort to identify and fill gaps in funding for enterprises in economically stressed communities using a strategic combination of grant making and investing.
  • Paula Goldman, Vice President and Global Lead for Impact Investing at Omidyar Network, is a critical thought-leader and movement builder in the space. And Omidyar Network’s early movement in the impact investing arena and continued big bets in the space continue to pave the way for future followers.

In the Investment Community:

  • Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner of DBL Partners, is a venture capitalist that has proven that striving for a double bottom line can be profitable for investors and companies. Her current fund has committed to making early investments in companies to not only facilitate impact, but also encourage the integration of impact into corporate culture and operations.
  • Deborah Winshel of BlackRock Impact is transforming the way the traditional investing community views impact. BlackRock Impact oversees $200 billion in assets, offering clients values-based, ESG-based and impact investing strategies. A passionate advocate for metrics, Winshel is also leveraging BlackRock’s quantitative capabilities to measure investees’ social impact.
  • Dina Habib Powell, head of Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group and President of Goldman Sachs Foundation, is another example of a leader moving impact investing to the mainstream. Managing the firm’s housing and community-development investments, Powell is directing billions of dollars to neighborhoods and underserved communities in need across the U.S.
  • Lisa Hall is Managing Director of Anthos Asset Management, a privately owned investment manager based in Amsterdam. Former President and CEO of Calvert Foundation, Hall is a champion for investing in enterprises that aim to solve critical social issues.
  • Maya Chorengel* is the founder of Elevar Equity, a fund manager committed to using impact investments to empower entrepreneurs around the world. Elevar Equity’s early-stage investments have enabled enterprises to develop innovative business models to solve critical development problems around the world.
  • Jenny Abramson, founder of Rethink Impact, brings her diverse background in consulting, education, technology and media to impact investing. Rethink Impact is focused on investing in companies managed by women and leveraging technology to create impact. Listen to this podcast and her focus on enhancing returns through gender lens investing.
  • Jennifer Pryce, President and CEO of the Calvert Foundation, is at the forefront of the effort to democratize impact investing. Through, the Calvert Foundation offers an inexpensive way to become an impact investor by using the foundation’s Community Investment Notes.
  • Erika Karp, Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group, leverages her expertise working at UBS and as a founding board member of SASB to advance sustainable investments.
  • Tracy Palandjian*, Co-Founder and CEO of Social Finance, is leading the charge to promote public-private partnerships through Pay for Success and Social Impact Bond models.
  • Audrey Choi*, CEO of Morgan Stanley’s Institute of Sustainable Investing, brings her experience working in journalism, the social sector and government to build cross-sector partnerships that promote sustainable investing in building resilient communities across the globe.
  • Durreen Shahnaz, Founder of Asia IIX and Shujog, is building a robust impact investing ecosystem in Asia. After establishing Asia IIX, the world’s first social stock exchange, Shahnaz founded Shujog, which strives to amplify the impact of social enterprises. Keep an eye on her latest idea—the Women’s Livelihood Bond.

In Research and Metrics:

  • Jean Rogers, Founder and CEO of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is filling a critical gap in the current impact investing industry: measurement standards. SASB is the social side of FASB, and will enable investors to evaluate corporations on their environmental, social and governing performance.
  • Cathy Clark*, at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University, is using her 25 years of experience as an impact investor and private foundation executive to conduct rigorous research and data collection to build out the case for impact investing. Her most recent report examines the challenges and barriers to impact investing.
  • Michelle Greene*, former head of Corporate Responsibility at NYSE Euronext is bringing her extensive experience to academia as Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. She also recently joined the Long-Term Stock Exchange, a new securities exchange focused on long-term value creation, as Chief Policy Officer.
  • Sonal Shah, Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Innovation at Georgetown University, has taken on a leading role in promoting innovative finance and social innovation policy in the public and private sectors.
  • Lisa Woll, CEO of the US SIF, leads a vibrant network and hub for sustainable, responsible and impact investment, with a host of essential programs and resources. See the 2014 US SIF report here.

In Government:

It is becoming increasingly clear that women—at every intersection of the impact investing movement—are serving as trailblazers and practitioners for its advancement. We just wanted to take a quick moment to say thanks and keep up the hard work.

*Member of the U.S. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing (NAB)

Confronting the 4 Myths of Impact Investing

It is no secret, I’m a firm believer that impact investing is a movement that is taking off and here to stay. In the U.S. and around the world we’ve seen segments of the market start to move from informed, to educated, to activated. We’ve seen private capital unleashed with a focus on impact across sectors, geographies and asset classes. As an investor and a philanthropist, I’m encouraged by the good news I’ve seen, highlighting growth in the number of successful social enterprises. But even as we celebrate the major milestones we’ve achieved in impact investing, it’s important to remember that these are still the early days of impact investing and we have to pay attention to the critiques from skeptics.

In a recent post on Medium, as part of a blog series in the run up to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit kicking off today, I reviewed some of the myths and skeptical perceptions that we’re hearing, which may be posing barriers to taking impact investing to the next level. You can read more about the 4 Myths of Impact Investing here.

What’s Trending—Using Your Business as a Force for Good

This blog post is co-bylined by Sheila Herrling, SVP, Social Innovation at the Case Foundation and Hardik Savalia, Senior Associate, Standards, at B Lab—a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

It’s undeniable; entrepreneurship is experiencing a culture shift. Everyday we hear more stories about the power of business to be a force for good. It’s no longer enough for an enterprise to earn a good profit. There’s a growing expectation that it will contribute to society and to a sustainable future. In his State of the Union Address, even President Obama articulated the need for businesses to get serious about improving their social and environmental impact. He stressed how businesses can do right by their workers, customers and communities, in addition to generating great profits.

Heeding the Call–Corporations committed to positive impact

Urgent social needs—access to energy, education, healthcare, clean water—don’t show signs of decline, making it clear that philanthropic and government resources alone won’t be sufficient to address them all. Communities around the world will need committed entrepreneurs and investors to help drive the next wave of great social change and environmental conservation.

Luckily, more than 1,600 companies including Patagonia and Warby Parker have taken the lead in this growing movement, by completing an extensive certification process to become B Corps. Yet, we believe that if we’re going to make real progress on social and environmental issues, we have to empower all companies, no matter the industry, location or size, with the tools to benchmark, measure and compare their positive impact on workers, communities and the environment. After all, how can any business start to improve their impact, without first knowing where they stand?

Through our partnership, we at B Lab and the Case Foundation have created the B Impact Assessment to do just this, and it’s already being used by more than 40,000 businesses in 80 countries. We’ve also recently released an enhanced, more user-friendly version of the Assessment to make it easier for any team member—ranging from CEO, to intern, to manager—to start this exercise confidentially for their business.

Ready to see it for yourself? Check out the new assessment!

B Impact Assessment SH

The Assessment takes users on a step-by-step journey through a variety of best practices that have already been adopted by leading companies. For example, what percent of the company’s workers receive a living wage? The tool provides examples from companies like Ben & Jerry’s on how they’ve successfully implemented a living wage program for all of their employees.

We believe there’s no single way to build a better business and the initial baseline assessment is the first step on a pathway to improvement. After completing the first, quick assessment, which on average takes about 30 minutes, we encourage companies to come back and use the built-in tools to set goals, create an action plan and start implementing those best practices to realize better social outcomes.

B Impact Report

Join the Movement–Use your business to drive social change.

The B Corps community and the Case Foundation, together are proud that more than 1,600 companies have fully committed to do their part as certified B Crops—redefining success for business—and that another 40,000 companies have shown an interest in doing better. We’re excited to invite all businesses to join this movement, and measure your ability to build stronger communities, create environmentally sustainable operations or cultivate empowering employment opportunities. We invite you to use business as a force for good.

Join our upcoming webinar, Increasing Your Impact & Improving Your Score on the B Impact Assessment, to learn more about how business can measure and improve their impact.

Another Policy Win for Impact Investing

This week marks another important moment in the growing global impact investing movement, and an important reminder of the critical role that government policy can play in catalyzing social progress.

In response to a 2013 call from G8 leaders for nations to designate Task Forces that would work together to identify policy recommendations to accelerate the growth of impact investing, the U.S. National Advisory Board (NAB) on Impact Investing was formed. This incredible group of cross-sector changemakers, including our own CEO Jean Case, presented its recommendations in the summer of 2014 at the White House in the form of a report—Private Capital, Public Good. The report zeroed in on a number of key policy changes that held the potential to significantly increase the amount of capital available for socially responsible business. And over the past two years, in strong partnership between the private sector, philanthropy, civic leaders and government, those recommendations are being adopted through policy change.

From Mission-Related Investment (MRI) regulations issued in September, 2015, to new Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulations issued in October, 2015, to last week’s issuance of new Program-Related Investment (PRI) regulations, the U.S. government has listened to stakeholders and taken action to remove uncertainty about impact investing among capital providers (foundations, charitable organization and private investors alike) wishing to invest for both financial and social returns.

The Latest Policy Win: PRI Regulations

This week, the Treasury Department and IRS finalized highly anticipated PRI regulations. This new guidance removes some of the uncertainty about impact investing among foundations by confirming new examples of the types of investments that qualify as PRIs. These examples were recommended in 2012 to modernize the list created more than 40 years ago, and identify foundations using PRIs to further their mission through:

  • Different financing methods, including equity, debt or loan guarantees—as is frequently the case in Pay for Success models.
  • Greater flexibility in determining a prudent, mission-aligned exit from an investment in a for-profit company that has become profitable.
  • Investments in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and even to individuals through, for example, microloans in developing economies.
  • Strategies that aren’t limited by geography or charitable purpose—PRIs can go to support the arts, the environment, health, urban development and more, both within the U.S. and internationally.

This new guidance is very welcome news. Historically, limited PRI examples left many foundations that wanted to take advantage of PRIs to support their charitable efforts on the sidelines. They questioned what was “allowable,” given their unique tax status and the changing landscape of investment seeking social enterprises and revenue generating nonprofits. At a time when our communities are in great need and traditional resources are being stretched thin—we need the power of all sectors working together, and PRIs provide foundations with a powerful tool to make that happen.

We Know These Kinds of Policy Changes Can Matter

We’re encouraged by the recent steps taken by the federal government, knowing that their actions can, and have, greatly influenced market activity. If we think back to 1979, the U.S. government issued highly impactful guidance on the prudent management of pension funds—stating that investments in venture capital funds could be consistent with ERISA guidelines. Directly following this guidance, venture investment in the U.S. jumped from just over $450 million in 1979 to a peak of $5 billion by 1987, effectively catapulting venture investments into the mainstream.

Taken together, the MRI, PRI and ERISA policy changes remove obstacles (or excuses) that have stood between good intentions to seek out impact investments and action. Even a relatively small percentage increase in pension fund impact investments would add up to billions in new capital—funds governed by ERISA manage roughly half of the $18 trillion in US pension assets. And on the PRI front, a Center for Effective Philanthropy report points to the great potential to scale impact investing—of the 64 foundation CEOs surveyed, only 41 percent said their foundations are making impact investments. Of those who are, they are deploying a median of only two percent of their endowments and 0.5 percent of their grants to PRIs.

At the Case Foundation, we believe we’re on the verge of seeing impact investing gain traction like never before. The impact investing road has been further paved by this latest policy change—let’s make that road paved more with robust actions than good intentions!

For more on the new PRI regulations, visit the White House blog post: Steps to Catalyze Private Foundation Impact Investing.

Photo credit: Roman Boed