A SOCAP Guest Post By Avary Kent, Executive Director of Conveners.org
SOCAP’s annual gathering of mission-focused investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders is always a highlight for Conveners.org. As an organization with a mission to support the diverse ecosystem of impact-focused conveners and accelerators, we recognize the transformative power that convening has to positively change the world, and SOCAP is a great example of meaningful convening.
During this past conference we co-hosted three sessions over three days, bringing together diverse segments of the social impact community.
The week kicked off with an all-day pre-conference session in support of one of our signature programs, Accelerating the Accelerators (AtA). With our co-hosts, the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and SOCAP, we brought together 35 accelerator program managers from 28 unique accelerators, representing 12 countries around the world to explore how to move collaboration into action. During the week we also met with leaders in the impact mapping community to share initial ideas on developing a new Mapping the Mappers initiative, an effort currently underway. We then wrapped up the week by celebrating our third birthday with our Convening the Conveners (CtC) community, a membership community of conveners who are dedicated to advancing ecosystem-wide impact through collaboration. Below are outcomes from the three sessions and information on how you can get involved.
Accelerating the Accelerators
In partnership with the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, we co-hosted the third annual Accelerating the Accelerators @SOCAP day-long workshop. A continuation of conversations from years past and similar workshops hosted by community leaders, including Ian Fisk of the Mentor Capital Network, the session served to further build the field for stronger accelerator network ties and more frequent and meaningful peer-to-peer exchanges.
The morning segment focused on gaining a better understanding of how one another’s programs work, what each program does well, and where each program could benefit from support. The afternoon segment was organized as an unconference, with participants sourcing conversation topics that were of the most interest to them, and then creating an agenda to break into small group discussions. These conversations included:
- Sustainable business models/revenue generators for scaling accelerators
- Supporting non-selected entrepreneurs
- Getting entrepreneurs investment
- Best practices in getting comparison groups
- How do you measure the impact of your accelerator and the businesses you accelerate?
- Curriculum best practices
The workshop concluded with the group identifying opportunities to continue exploring topics throughout the coming year through three new AtA Collective Impact Projects run by Conveners.org. Collective Impact Projects (CIPs) are working groups that focus on a specific topic, for a defined period of time, with the objective of creating a new industry resource, solution, or tool. The new CIPs sourced from our sessions at SOCAP include one focused on impact measurement, which has a Slack group going and is open beyond those who signed up at SOCAP; another CIP centers on the support that can be given to entrepreneurs who are not accepted to an accelerator program, and will launch in January; the third CIP is focused on providing feedback for a new initiative called the Accelerator Selection Tool which will get started in Q2 of the new year.
To read more about these unconference sessions, including key takeaways from each conversation, click here. And if you’re interested in joining a Collective Impact Project, send an email to [email protected]
Convening the Conveners
Convening the Conveners (CtC) is a membership program for organizations that use the powerful tool of convening to advance positive change. The program was born at SOCAP13 when Topher Wilkins, CEO of Opportunity Collaboration, organized a gathering to discuss a radical idea: that greater coordination, cooperation, and collaboration among conveners would lead to greater collective impact.
In January 2015, we formally incorporated as Conveners.org and we haven’t looked back since — co-hosting sessions around the globe, building out our membership website, supporting collective impact projects, and establishing a strong team to serve our members.
At SOCAP this year, we celebrated our three-year anniversary, and continued the conversation of how best to convene for impact.
Mapping the Mappers
In the spirit of convening, Conveners.org took a popular quarterly call series called Mapping the Mappers (MtM) and hosted an in-person gathering at SOCAP16 to discuss the formalization of a program on how to generate efficiencies in social ecosystem mapping efforts.
The purpose of the gathering was to coordinate efforts, avoid the trap of re-inventing the wheel, and learn what technologies and approaches have worked well for mapping peers. One outcome of the meeting was the creation and launch of a Mapper Directory, as well as the launch of an MtM Google group, and the setup of a follow-up call in December to continue the conversation and collaboration.
If you’re interested in learning more about this and other Conveners.org initiatives, send us an email at [email protected]. And make sure to connect with us next year at SOCAP17!
A registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, Conveners.org advances industry-wide practices that foster system-level progress and drive collective impact at scale. We manage two flagship programs, Convening the Conveners and Accelerating the Accelerators, through which we offer knowledge, tools, and resources that support the growing ecosystem of impact-focused conveners and accelerators, and enable coordination, connections, and conversations that change the world.
We work with such organizations as SOCAP, Skoll World Forum, Social Venture Network, Mentor Capital Network, SRI Conference, Social Enterprise Alliance, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, ANDE, World Affairs Council, Echoing Green, and Opportunity Collaboration.
To learn more about Conveners.org and the role they play in the impact ecosystem, read our SOCAP Conversations interview with Avary Kent from 2015.