Watch Carol Sanford’s Interview with Rosa Lee Harden
Before she co-founded the Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP), Rosa Lee Harden built a successful career as an entrepreneur and publisher of newspapers, magazines, and trade journals. As an ordained Episcopal priest, she served as the leader of Holy Innocents Church in San Francisco for 10 years. Today, Rosa Lee is the Executive Producer of SOCAP15. She also serves as Canon for Money & Meaning at The Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, North Carolina.
Rosa Lee recently sat down for a thoughtful conversation about faith, entrepreneurship, impact investing, community building and other topics at the intersection of money and meaning with Carol Sanford, author of the book The Responsible Entrepreneur.
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In Part 1 of her conversation with Carol, Rosa Lee discusses the pathways she has taken in her journey as a serial entrepreneur, priest, and convener. She recalls her introduction to impact investing and enterprise philanthropy, her growing conviction that the need for people of faith to be involved in those arenas, and the bridge between money and faith.
Rosa Lee tells how, in the early 2000’s, Good Capital Co-founders Kevin Jones (Rosa Lee’s husband) and Tim Freundlich saw in the impact investing community a need for a space where entrepreneurs and investors could meet, share knowledge, and work together to create positive social and environmental change. Their realization that a supportive community of investors could make much more of a social impact than individual investors working alone led them to invite Rosa Lee to be a part of creating SOCAP.
Rosa Lee answers by talking about how SOCAP brings together investors, entrepreneurs, academics, non-profit leaders, and other professionals working in the social impact space together in the same space. The SOCAP conference was designed to build the impact community by showcasing new ideas and enterprises while bringing together, “people who are thinking about this in a wide variety of ways to see what synergies can happen. To see how creative we can get. How you can learn from me and I can learn from you. To have our community physically present so we can have these conversations.”
Rosa Lee discusses how exciting it has been to watch the growth of interest in impact investing. Annual increases in attendance numbers at SOCAP testifies to that. Increasingly, people are thinking differently about how they invest and how they spend their money. She also talks about how encouraged she has been to see the collaborations that have come out of the diverse SOCAP community, the rising number of other conveners who are creating events focused on social impact.
Rosa Lee highlights the importance of understanding the unique values and goals of each investor when choosing impact investments. For some groups, financial return will be a requirement, while others will be entirely focused on social returns. She gives some examples of investments that demonstrate how vital it is for each individual investor or investment group to discuss and understand the desired returns, both financial and social.
Carol asks Rosa Lee her thoughts on Charlie and Lisa Kleisner’s “100% club,” in which investors work towards having 100% of their assets in social impact investments. Rosa Lee discusses that strategy, and also how important it is for anyone interested in impact investing to realize that they can still make a difference even if they cannot realistically achieve that 100% mark.
Rosa Lee discusses a spiritual process we can use to make peace between the desire for change and real life challenges that can make change difficult. She also talks about the strength that can come from faith and from being part of a supportive community. Rosa Lee answers this question in part, with these thoughts on impact investing:
“Just do what you can do and quit worrying about the things you can’t do and find a community, which we find through SOCAP. Or you might find through a giving circle in your hometown, or you might find through a church group or you might find by connecting with folks through a podcast. Find a community who supports you in that and figure out how to be supported in the work that you want to do in the world.”