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!

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

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.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

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.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

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.

2015 Conferences On Our Radar

This post was written by Jade Floyd and Anna Windsor on behalf of the Case Foundation:

Networking with people we admire, making new connections, and learning from organizations that inspire us: those are just a few reasons we love attending conferences and convenings in the social sector and beyond that help us advance our efforts to revolutionize philanthropy, unleash entrepreneurship and ignite civic engagement. While we wish we could find a way to easily clone ourselves and make it to all of the incredible gatherings there are to choose from, here are the few we’ll be attending (and in some cases hosting panels, dinners and other discussions) in 2015:

Opportunity Nation Summit, February 25 – 26, Washington, D.C.

The National Opportunity Summit unites a bipartisan, cross-sector group of business leaders, nonprofits, elected officials and young people working together to address the crisis of youth unemployment and its impact on opportunity in America. Join the Case Foundation for a panel on the “Power of Entrepreneurship on Youth Unemployment.” More details HERE.

Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTEN), March 4 – 6, Austin, TX

The Nonprofit Technology Conference highlights the latest technologies and best strategies to address pressing issues in the nonprofit sectors. Be sure to check out our own Elyse Greenberg on March 6th as she joins a panel of social media professionals for a lively conversation around engagement. They will explore how better engagement can lead to stronger programs, higher returns and greater impact for you and your initiatives. More details HERE.

SXSW Interactive, March 13 – 17, Austin, TX

The SXSW Interactive Festival is an incubator for cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity that tens of thousands flock to each year in Austin. Be sure to pop over to the many events hosted by the Case Foundation, including:

  • Our CEO, Jean Case will lead a lively “Impact Investing Rumble,” where champions of impact investing will take on the nay sayers in a tag-team style debate to fight it out over whether or not one can really invest and receive financial returns. More details HERE.
  • A Be Fearless Breakout Session where you can explore how you and your organization can integrate strategies and tactics to create greater impact and more meaningful social change. More details HERE.
  • A session on How Potato Salad Killed/Saved Crowdfunding moderated by our own Allyson Burns with Gary Wohlfeill from Crowdrise; Ryan Grepper who created the Coolest Cooler which was one of the most popular campaigns on Kickstarter; and Zack Brown, the “potato salad guy” from from Kickstarter. Together they will explore the future of crowdfunding for nonprofits, for-profits and individuals and what this shift in crowdfunding means for the future of the sector. More details HERE.
  • Join us in the convention center for a featured presentation on the future of entrepreneurship by our Chairman, Steve Case, including a fireside chat Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post. More details HERE.
  • Later, Steve will join fellow judges Troy Carter and Sallie Krawcheck for the Rise of the Rest pitch competition. Join us as they showcase emerging startup ecosystems across the U.S. Five companies will have five minutes to pitch and the winning startup will receive a $100,000 investment. More details HERE.
  • Pop over to the “Startup Oasis” produced by UP Global and the Kauffman Foundation from March 14-16th. Steve will join other entrepreneurs and startups at sessions and happy hours focused on women, fintech and education. Sign up HERE.

Skoll World Forum, April 15-17, Oxford, England

Every year in Oxford more than 1,000 thought leaders from the social, financial, private and public sectors convene to innovate, accelerate and scale solutions to the world’s greatest social issues. More details HERE. Council on Foundations Annual Meeting, April 26 – 28, San Francisco, CA The Council on Foundations’ Annual Meeting brings together global leaders from across philanthropy to develop the ideas and strategies that will shape the future. More details HERE.

Milken Institute Global Conference, April 26 – 29, Los Angeles, CA

The four-day conference in Los Angeles unites attendees as they devise solutions to today’s most pressing challenges. Stay tuned for more on events hosted by the Case Foundation to be announced in the coming weeks. More details HERE. Do Good Data, April 30 – May 1, Chicago, IL Do Good Data features innovative leaders who weigh in on how data is creating a more effective and efficient sector. More details HERE.

Forward Cities, date TBD

Forward Cities is a multi-city, national learning collaborative between New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland and Durham. Over the next two years, leaders and local innovators from each of these cities are convening to connect with one another as they work to increase entrepreneurial activity and connectivity in disconnected communities. The Case Foundation is looking forward to supporting several of their upcoming meetings in Detroit and Cleveland this year so stay tuned for more!

EPIP National Conference, May 12 – 14, New Orleans, LA

The Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy National Conference aims to develop leaders who are better equipped to advance social change. The theme for this year’s conference is “Emerging Voices, Empowering Communities” and will unite attendees as they address social disparities and discuss best practices to advance social change. More details HERE.

The Millennial Impact – MCON 2015, June 24-25, Chicago, IL

Each year the Case Foundation hosts MCON, a two-day experience for corporate, nonprofit and public leaders who create and build movements for causes by engaging the Millennial generation. MCON will be an especially enriching experience for cause marketers, and cause enthusiasts and cause leaders seeking to change the culture of their organizations. More details HERE.

Mashable Social Good Summit, September 27 th- 28th, New York, NY

The Mashable Social Good Summit is a conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiates around the world. The summit is held during UN Week in New York City and unites a community of global leaders and grassroots activists. This year’s theme will be #2030NOW, asking the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” More details HERE.

SOCAP, October 6 – 9, San Francisco, CA

SOCAP 15 (Social Capital Markets) will unite innovators in business, tech, the sharing economy, health and philanthropy to advance environmental and social causes through impact investing and social enterprise. More details HERE.

Independent Sector, October 27 – 29, Miami, FL

The Independent Sector Conference uses innovative formats to share the expertise of staff and board members from nonprofits, foundations and corporate philanthropy programs. The conference also features special programs including like NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now, as well as the Public Policy Action Institute. More details HERE.

2015 BoardSource Leadership Forum, November 9 – 10, New Orleans, LA

The BoardSource Leadership Forum is one of the largest annual gatherings of nonprofit board leaders. At this convening, attendees will discuss the latest trends and best practices in nonprofit governance to help guide their organizations toward greater impact. More details HERE.

We hope to see you at one or more of these gatherings, and look forward to sharing more about our learnings. We’ll check in later this year with an update on new gatherings that we’ve added to our calendar.

Have a conference not listed here that should be on our radar? Tweet us @CaseFoundation to share with #CFBlog.

Impact Investing: Show me …the data

Over the past six months, we have worked together to better understand the important issues affecting scale in impact investing. One of the critical issues we have heard time and time again, from potential investors and from some fund managers, is the need for better data.

Okay, so it’s not quite as exciting as the “show me the money” line from Jerry McGuire. But for the emerging impact investing industry, showing the (financial return) data is an important precursor to getting shown the money.

While much of the conversation within the impact investing industry has focused on the important issue of the appropriate metrics to measure impact, far less attention has focused on metrics for evaluating financial returns. If we truly want to see the impact investing industry grow beyond today’s early pioneers to a broader set of investors, getting a better handle on the data around actual financial performance is critical.

Having spent a fair bit of time in both the impact investing community and in the more “traditional” investment world, the two who communicate often seem to be speaking completely different languages – and it’s time to get on the same page.

Returns are the lingua franca of how people invest. Investors are accustomed to seeing return data – whether it be in internal rate of return (IRR) or multiples — by asset class, and then evaluating that performance relative to broader benchmarks. Investors want to understand the risk associated with generating that return, whether in the form of loss rates on a debt portfolio or volatility in an equity portfolio. More importantly, they need a baseline from which to start.

In terms of public equities, we have a robust data set that enables us to evaluate the performance of companies that are seeking both a financial and social return, and the findings are different from the conventional wisdom. According to a recent report from UBS, an “enormous amount of academic research has been published about the financial performance of sustainable investing funds over the past decade. The literature concludes that sustainable investing strategies perform in line with market benchmarks.” The UBS report goes on to suggest that “ESG [environmental, social and governance] or socially responsible investing (SRI) funds are not consistently suffering the ‘return sacrifice’ so often heard in discussions of sustainable investing.”

However, very little data is available on impact investments in private companies. We recognize the challenges: it is harder to access data from private companies; impact investments are relatively recent; there are few funds with fully realized track records; and investments are dispersed through a broad set of investors and intermediaries.

Despite these challenges, capturing the data is important as we seek to bring the impact investing industry beyond the pioneering stage. I have personally seen the power of data in convincing skeptics. Prior to launching the Impact Investing initiative at the Small Business Administration, many questioned whether the program would have too much risk. The conventional wisdom was that investing in low and moderate income (LMI) areas was more risky and had lower returns.

So we ran the numbers – and found that the conventional wisdom was wrong. We literally ran a regression to see how financial performance correlated with the percent of a fund invested in an LMI area. We found no correlation. Investment in “low and moderate income” areas did as well as their peers.

We don’t know what the numbers will show for impact investing more broadly. Since impact investments are not one monolithic group, my guess is that in some sector/asset class combinations, they will compare favorably with “market” rates. In many cases they may be below.

But getting the numbers is an important first step. Even in cases where expected return may be “concessionary,” the data could clarify to the investor that the risk may be low (addressing the investors’ concern for capital preservation) or that the total blended return, financial and social, could be incredibly compelling. Transparency and baseline data will help the sector move from hype to scale.

The analysis will be important not just for the numbers per se, but for investors to see that the impact investing community “speaks my language”.

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has made some good progress in initial research, but there is more work to be done. We need to differentiate returns by asset class, look at loss rates, and the volatility of investment and not just returns. We need to work together to take this to the next level.

Heading to the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP13) conference next week?  We invite you to join us to continue the conversation during a session featuring with our CEO, Jean Case, and for an in-depth workshop with Sean Greene and Sonal Shah. See the full schedule of events HERE.