Biggest Trend in Social Good? Women in the Driver’s Seat!

I was recently asked to open up a dinner conversation with a room full of social innovators—a mix of foundations, entrepreneurs, impact investors and companies—by laying out what I saw as the top three trends in social good. These trends are important in that they inform our arenas for action and the clarion call we, at the Case Foundation, are making to all citizens to “Get in the Arena.” That night, I picked three distinct trends because I felt it opened up more conversation. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone with my original three: women, women and women. 

Trend 1: Women as Investors

You may recall an earlier blog I wrote about Trailblazing Women in Impact Investing where I talked about women emerging as a driving force behind the growth of the Impact Investing industry. From founding firms focused on impact investors, to creating tools and products to catalyze capital, to leading nonprofits and foundations focused on educating and activating a host of actors, women are spearheading and populating this sector more so than any other financial services sector.

A recent Calvert Investments report asserts that women, along with younger investors, will indeed drive the growth of the broader responsible investment industry. In a study of affluent women, 95 percent ranked “helping others” and 90 percent ranked “environmental responsibility” as important. And beyond driving the growth of Impact Investing, woman may be our greatest hope to unlocking the kinds of game-changing innovations required to solve the most persistent problems. Turns out that women wealth holders exhibit more risk tolerance toward new and innovative solutions, once they have met the financial security needs of themselves and their families. As Sallie Krawcheck wrote in her thought-provoking piece, women investors exhibit a slightly different values-based perspective. More women want their investments to not just generate excellent returns, but also have a positive impact on the world they live in. And they’re willing to make some big bets to deliver on that perspective.

This data reinforces the importance of ensuring that women continue to be aware of the momentum in the Impact Investing space. Remember, their purchasing power and, therefore, their potential social impact power is enormous—women control 39 percent of investible assets in the U.S. today. That number will continue to rise; women currently control 51 percent, or $14 trillion, of personal wealth in the U.S. and are expected to control $22 trillion by 2020.

Trend 2: Women as Consumers

Women represent the largest market opportunity in the world. Globally, they control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. In the next five years, it is expected that this number will rise to nearly $30 trillion. For context, that is more than the two largest growth markets typically identified—China and India—combined! In the U.S., women control somewhere between $5-15 trillion, with estimates that they will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S. over the next 10 years.

Women handle the bulk of purchasing decisions for everyday items like groceries and clothing and are also heading up and/or highly influential in large ticket purchases like cars, homes and appliances. Here’s another kicker—they even purchase 50 percent of the products marketed to men!

Why is this a trend worth watching in social good? Because women often make purchasing decisions based on their personal and social values. The HBR piece on the “Female Economy” is a must-read on the role women will play as consumers, members of the workforce, productivity drivers and caregivers. On the women as consumers front, my favorite quote:

“Once companies wake up to the potential of the female economy, they will find a whole new range of commercial opportunities in women’s social concerns. Women seek to buy products and services from companies that do good for the world, especially for other women. Brands that—directly or indirectly—promote physical and emotional well-being, protect and preserve the environment, provide education and care for the needy, and encourage love and connection will benefit. And women are the customer. There’s no reason they should settle for products that ignore or fail to fully meet their needs, or that do so cynically or superficially. Women will increasingly resist being stereotyped, segmented only by age or income, lumped together into an “all women” characterization, or, worse, undifferentiated from men.”

Given the forthcoming wealth transfer predicted, many of these upwardly mobile consumers and asset owners are Millennial women. Millennial customers, employees and importantly—entrepreneurs—lead their lives and make choices with a more holistic worldview. They contribute to and support the things they believe in and they use their dollars to exercise those views and beliefs.

Trend 3: Women as Entrepreneurs

And perhaps the greatest trend of all to watch in terms of opportunity to drive social good is the rise of women in entrepreneurship.

American Express OPEN’s 2016 State of Women-Owned Business report is a must-read. The number of women owned firms and their economic contributions continue to rise at rates higher than the national average. As of 2016, this data shows 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues.

The report show that between 2007 and 2016:

  • The number of women-owned firms increased by 45 percent, compared to just a 9 percent increase among all businesses. That’s five times faster than the national average.
  • Their employment growth increased by 18 percent, compared to a 1 percent decline among all businesses.
  • Their business revenues increased by 35 percent, compared to 27 percent among all U.S. firms. That’s 30 percent higher than the national average.

And check out the growth of firms owned by women of color! Their numbers have more than doubled since 2007, increasing by 126 percent.

Now, let’s turn our attention to venture-backed companies in particular, given their potential for high growth. Less than 10 percent of venture-backed companies have female founders, despite the evidence that gender-diverse companies drive greater market returns and innovation; that VC portfolios show women-founded companies outperform those founded by men; and that funds declaring gender diversity an “investing factor” give higher returns with women at the leadership level.

I think we are going to see these dreadful statistics change over the next couple of years. Increased attention being paid to these numbers, including by our own #FacesofFounders campaign and others (UBS, Blackstone Foundation, Google for Entrepreneurs, Kapor Center, 500 Startups, JumpStart, to name just a few) will help. Why is this a social trend worth accelerating? To put this into perspective, according the Economist, if women entrepreneurs in the U.S. started with the same capital as men, they would add 6 million jobs to the economy in five years—2 million of those in the first year alone.

As we ring in 2017, with all of its uncertainties, I for one commit to getting in the arena of investing in women with intention. For one thing appears pretty certain—our economy, as well as our social fabric, depends on them.

Apple Watch: The Good, the Not-So-Good and the Social Good

About six months ago, to great fanfare, Apple debuted the Apple Watch. And for good reason… Smartwatches will account for 59 percent of total wearable device shipments in 2015, and that share is expected to expand to just over 70 percent of shipments by 2019. The company’s long awaited foray into wearable technology has been met with mixed reactions by consumers. Over the last few months, we’ve been testing out the Apple Watch to help our team at the Case Foundation learn about this new tool and how this innovative technology could be used to change the social sector landscape. With the latest update to the operating system (OS), we thought it was a good time for a brief report out. Below, is a summary of what I like, what I suggest could be improved and where I see potential for the Apple Watch to be used for social good.

Have your own thoughts about the Apple Watch or wearables? Please share them with us on Twitter using @CaseFoundation and #wearables.

The Good:

The most obvious thing to love about the Apple Watch is the incredible convenience it brings. Being able to merely turn your wrist and instantly see those things that are most important to you—the date, what your next appointment is, what the temperature is outside and more—without having to dig out a cell phone or open up your computer—can’t be beat.

For many of us testing the Apple Watch, the main question boils down to: “When would I rather use the Apple Watch than my phone?” And the answer for many applications is usually, I wouldn’t. That being said, there is much to appreciate with this device:

  • Complications: These are small elements that appear on the watch face and provide quick access to frequently used data, offering unparalleled convenience. For example, apps like Dark Sky that can notify you that it’s about to rain, or App in the Air that will push flight statuses to your wrist while walking through the airport. And obviously, as a wearable, the possibilities are huge in the health and fitness space. A running list of available apps and complications for the Apple Watch is here.
  • Haptic alerts and alarm: It is great for minimizing distractions in meetings as the watch merely vibrates quietly to tell you when you have a call or a text coming in and is not as disruptive as a phone. The same feature also allows the watch to act as a much more pleasant alarm, gently tapping your wrist to wake you in the morning.
  • Voice recognition and voice to text feature: When you receive a text, you can quickly reply by speaking into the watch. This feature is really helpful for driving, exercising or simply for when your phone is out of reach; with just a tap of the watch, you can speak your reply. It picks up speech amazingly well.

The Not so Good:

While the convenience is impressive, there are a few features that, in my opinion, could be tweaked to drastically improve the user experience.

  • Battery life: The watch’s battery is only good for 18 hours, meaning you’re left recharging the watch daily. This inconvenience might not be so bad if there were an easier way to tell what the battery level is, but one has to go through multiple steps to see what the power level is or set it up as a complication. A suggestion is to perhaps utilize the outer ring of the bezel as the battery indicator for example. It might also be less cumbersome if there were an easier way of taking the watch off and on. For example, a simple-to-use quick release mechanism to actually pop the watch away from the band for charging.
  • User experience: It is not clear when to use the screen itself by tapping; swiping or “force touch”; when to use the crown; and when to use the button that sits below the crown. I suspect the integration of these elements will likely improve over time as Apple and other developers gain more user data and create a more consistent set of guidelines and best practices for watch interfaces.
  • Waterproof: It’s not. While this may not be a deal breaker, it does feel restrictive given the integration of wearable technology to track our every move and heart beat. The watch could be great for sports for instance, but right now you will always have to worry about taking it out kayaking or canoeing, and if you are a swimmer you can’t use it for that. The lack of a waterproof feature just feels limiting.

The Social Good:

So where does that leave us for social good? The possibilities are endless. One could imagine an application that utilizes proximity marketing technology that pushes notifications to customers about social good deals as people walk through the mall—notifying shoppers that the store to their right is donating a percentage of revenue to a local nonprofit for every purchase made today. This would help connect individuals with the organizations and causes that they care about the most.

This may just be an imagined application for the watch now, but it isn’t so far-fetched. There is a long history of tools designed for commercial uses pivoting to support social good. For example, many of the e-commerce tools of the past were developed into non-profit donation tools. Recently, UNICEF’s “Wearables for Good” competition challenged changemakers to ideate on new uses for wearable technology, and has hit upon some incredible ideas, including devices that: facilitate record keeping; aid in the tracking of medications; purify drinking water; and even track vaccinations. Indeed, much of the “tech for good” movement, powered by driven social entrepreneurs, embodies these principles of repurposing commercial technologies for social impact.

When game-changing technologies like the Apple Watch come out, it opens up a world of possibilities for social entrepreneurs to apply their skills and talent, experiment, fail, experiment again and come up with applications for these innovative technologies that could change the world. My hope is that pioneering social entrepreneurs, like the finalists in UNICEF’s “Wearables for Good” competition, will take the lead in developing these new technologies. It’s time for social good applications to be integrated into our technology. I can’t wait to see what’s next for the evolution of the Apple Watch and other wearable tech like it!

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.