Kicking off SOCAP16 at the Intersection of Money and Meaning

September 13, 2016 Charlie Vanek

Greetings from San Francisco! I’m here with colleagues from the MicroEdge division of Blackbaud to attend SOCAP16. For those of you unfamiliar with SOCAP16, here is a brief overview:

SOCAP16 is “a conference at the intersection of money + meaning.” Impact investors, social entrepreneurs, foundations, and global NPOs come together with the goal of furthering social, environmental, and economically sustainable solutions. Among this year’s many themes, I want to highlight two: (1) Impact Investing and (2) Measurement & Evaluation.

Impact Investing:

Impact investing refers to investments made with the intent to generate a measurable and beneficial social or environmental impact while producing a financial return on invested capital. Hence the conference name: SOcial CAPital. Impact investors fund organizations that sell products that lead to positive social outcomes. You can compare this to traditional foundations, which invest in programs to produce positive social outcomes. However, there’s an interesting twist: those foundations with endowments (largely private foundations) are now using their capital, which is usually invested in more traditional financial products, to fund impact investments. Foundations now have another lever to affect social change on top of their programming initiatives.

Measurement & Evaluation:

Measurement is playing a large role in fostering collaboration between foundations and NPO service providers to positively affect social change and assist decision makers with allocating grant dollars. Currently, we are building a solution to enable people to use uniform measurement for social change. This taxonomy will enable us to aggregate data and provide benchmarking services for the purpose of supporting corporations, foundations, and NPOs to connect over shared interests.

Why SOCAP16 is important:

A quick perusal of the SOCAP16 program sessions and attendee list (over 2500 strong) reveals concentrations of interest in very important categories: Clean Energy, Sustainable Agriculture, and Inner City Revitalization. Not coincidentally, these concentrations are reflected in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a UN initiative to transform our world by 2030 for “people, planet and prosperity.”  The UN encourages all people and institutions to contribute to the betterment of the planet by funding or investing across the 17 goals. By mapping outcomes taxonomy to the UN SDGs, organizations will be enabled to lay claim to contributing towards the SDGs, report on progress towards those SDGs to stakeholders, and connect to other people and institutions who are doing similar work.

So, stay tuned for daily blogs on the important happenings at SOCAP16.  In addition, check out our recently launched podcast – Champions for Social Good.

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