Trying to Find the Great Convergence Between Philanthropy and Social Impact Investing

Last year I covered the SOCAP10 philanthropy track curated by Sean Stannard-Stockton of Tactical Philanthropy. That track emerged from a dialogue following SOCAP09, which identified the need to integrate philanthropy more into the fabric of SOCAP. A series of sessions were presented that focused on practical efforts marrying philanthropy and social investment efforts.

However, while successful in bringing a philanthropy-oriented segment into SOCAP, many of those in attendance found the track too isolated. The track sessions were held in one building, and philanthropy as a theme didn’t seem to appear much in the other tracks. The opportunity to really squeeze the social investment and philanthropy communities together didn’t really materialize.

This year’s conference comes at a really interesting moment as more people tracking and involved in both sectors are looking for the great convergence between the sectors to take place.

So, this year SOCAP11 would push in that direction…right? Well, no, not exactly. This year’s SOCAP conference went back to its roots to attempt to integrate philanthropy into its major tracks, especially through the Money. Meaning and Impact track. But, the presence of the philanthropic community seems less visible.

So, where do we go from here? At a minimum, we need to continue to find opportunities to speak across the social investing and philanthropic sectors. We need to develop a common language and terminology. We need more concrete examples of efforts that blend the two approaches. We earnestly need a way to educate the sectors about each other. My hope is that SOCAP11 will push us further toward the great convergence. For now, I remain skeptical but hopeful.


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