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.

Words Matter: How Should We Talk About Impact Investing?

For a number of years, the Case Foundation has been an active champion of the Impact Investing movement. In this work, which encourages institutions and individuals to align their capital more closely with their values, we have hosted more than 300 dialogues to better understand interests and concerns of audience segments as we seek to accelerate the movement. Yesterday, I had the privilege of joining more than 600 people on a webinar to discuss important new findings.

Thanks to a group of partners that included the Omidyar Network, Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation, together with the Global Impact Investing Network and the Global Social Impact Investing Steering Group, we unveiled important new research that tracked and analyzed coverage of the topic of impact investing in traditional and social media over a 12-month period. This report provides a clear picture of common messaging either being received or shared through the coverage that appeared in these months. This data, taken together, provides a unique roadmap to guide those of us championing the movement to key audiences and working hard to build out the impact investing ecosystem. As with any movement, words matter and can play a powerful role in informing, educating and activating those on the sidelines.

The good news is that impact investing has enjoyed mostly positive coverage and engagement in both traditional and social media. But equally good news is that it has been balanced by some skepticism or negative coverage that helps identify for us the work we have to do in the days ahead. An important insight provided by the research is that we must be careful to adapt our language and emphasis depending on who we are trying to reach. For instance, there was a clear difference in how impact investing is talked about in the U.K. as a “powerful government tool” versus in the U.S., where coverage and sharing is dominated by such phrases as “taking off,” “reaping returns” and “Millennials demand it.”

Another clear takeaway from the research is that we have work to do in the realm of measuring impact —reported to be the most common negatively associated narrative; on this point, I think there is broad agreement in the field. We must continue to commit ourselves to measuring the “impact” in impact investing. While this may take some time, there have been exciting developments to help close the gap in this area. For instance, the Case Foundation has partnered with B Lab to bring new tools to companies everywhere who want to measure their social impacts—”Measure What Matters” impact assessment tool has engaged more than 40,000 companies to date—an important step forward.

The research also shines a light on how different audiences, investors, policymakers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and high net worth individuals are engaging with each narrative, as it relates to a particular issue area. For example, two important audience segments— philanthropists and entrepreneurs—are more closely associated with the more negative “not a silver bullet” references. Indeed, within the field we recognize that it is decidedly unhelpful to paint impact investing as a silver bullet, but rather it becomes a new arrow in our quiver as we seek to champion all means in our efforts toward social impact. For those of us that speak about the movement routinely, we can use this research to remind us of the importance of making this point.

With all movements there are stages. While I believe that the impact investing movement is experiencing great traction and momentum, we are still in early days. This important research confirms we’re making strides in communicating effectively to broaden the tent and invite more participants from the private, public and nonprofit sectors to catalyze transformative social change. At the same time, it helps to guide us in our words and actions to fill gaps and address concerns.

If you didn’t have the chance to join us, the full webinar can be accessed, here. I’d like to extend my gratitude to the partners who invested in this important work and invite you to share your thoughts and insights on Twitter using hashtag #impinv.

Better Businesses Make Better Mothers’ Day Gifts

Here at the Case Foundation, we believe that where we shop matters, and we’re convinced that better businesses make better gifts. In an effort to help you wrap up your Mother’s Day shopping, we put together a collection of gift ideas from some of our favorite “better” businesses—companies driven to have positive social and environmental impact.

These gift ideas, curated with the help of our partners at B Lab, will fit nicely on your shopping list, while you support conscious businesses that create meaningful jobs, protect the environment and create a better world.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, grandmas, moms-to-be and caregivers!

Greyston BakeryGreyston Bakery has open hiring practices to provide employment and professional development opportunities to everyone in the community.
Mom will get the satisfaction of aiding in its efforts, as well as enjoying some of their delicious baked goods.

The Honest Company – This B Corp believes that Mother’s Day is all about spoiling mom. Treat her to something indulgent from Honest Company’s pampering collection so she can enjoy a spa-like escape at home.

Dogeared – This California-based jewelry company lives by the philosophy that “what goes around comes around.” It puts this belief into practice by handcrafting pieces locally, respecting the planet and partnering with nonprofit organizations that share its vision for a better world.

A to Z Wineworks – Your wine-loving mother is sure to jump with joy when she receives a bottle from A to Z Wineworks. Its award-winning Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are excellent not only in taste but also in their fair value and sustainability practices.

Prosperity Candle – Give Mom a hand-poured candle that smells good and does good! Each gift provides living wages to women artisans who are thriving as entrepreneurs.

Better World Books – The gift of a good book is something that never goes out of style. Give mom a novel from Better World Books, and someone in need will receive one as well.

Etsy – Are you still stumped about what to get Mom? Shop this community-based site that believes in making the world more fair, more sustainable and more fun. There are more than 1 million active shops – making it easy to find the perfect gift!

Have an idea of your own? Please share it with us on Twitter by tweeting at @CaseFoundation with the hashtag #CFBlog!

Measure What Matters: Announcing a New Partnership Between the Case Foundation and B Lab

This post was written by Andrew Kassoy, Co-founder of B Lab, and Kate Ahern on behalf of the Case Foundation:

The Case Foundation and B Lab are pleased to announce a new partnership called ‘Measure What Matters’ that will leverage the power of the B Corp community to help all companies use business as a force for good.

In February, the Case Foundation, B Lab, and a number of leading social entrepreneurs and impact investors participated in an event to talk about the need for business to join government, nonprofits, and philanthropy in solving social problems. We were fortunate to be joined by leaders from two certified B Corps—Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal and Happy Family’s Shazi Visram.

Warby Parker—which sells affordable, stylish prescription eyewear and incorporates a Buy One, Give One model—and Happy Family, which makes affordable organic baby food and other products, are two examples of the incredible power of business to do well by doing good. They are frontrunners in this growing movement because they are proving that they can solve problems and turn a profit.

B Lab, which certifies socially and environmentally responsible companies like Warby Parker and Happy Family, and others like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Etsy (which just filed for an IPO) has built some of the critical building blocks of the social enterprise ecosystem. Measure What Matters builds on the momentum from the B Corp Certification program and marks a second phase of the B Corp movement’s aim to help all companies use business as a force for good.

How will this partnership help all companies to Measure What Matters?

We are thrilled that the community of Certified B Corps has grown to 1,200 leading companies globally. Remarkably, there are 20,000 more companies that have engaged with the B Impact Assessment to start to benchmark and improve their social and environmental performance.

B Lab’s newest initiative, Measure What Matters, builds on that momentum. It will provide easy-to-use online tools including the B Impact Assessment and B Analytics that any company can use to assess, compare and improve their impact. This initiative will adapt these tools so that they can be used by millions of companies around the world.

Earlier this month, these tools made it possible for the City of New York and the B Corp community to launch a new campaign called Best for NYC, which will inspire, equip and celebrate all NYC companies to improve social and environmental performance. Measure What Matters will be the entry point and first step for thousands of new companies in New York, across America, and worldwide to learn about how to evaluate their business practices, to compare against benchmarks, and to improve their performance.

The Case Foundation has long partnered with organizations like B Lab that disrupt industries and make markets for social good, and we are happy be able to continue that tradition with our support of B Lab’s newest effort.

We know that only a small percentage of the companies that use B Lab’s tools will likely become certified B Corps, but we also know that all companies—large and small, public and private—can benefit from measuring what matters to them and what matters to their shareholders and customers in improving social impact and sustainability. In a generation’s time, this work will help establish a culture in business where all companies measure and manage impact with the same rigor as they do profits.

Read more about B Lab here, and learn more about the B Impact Assessment. Read more about the Case Foundation’s impact investing work here.