Can Design Improve Human Health? Design for Social Innovation Hosts the Measured Summit

Posted by on January 13th, 2017

A SOCAP Guest Post by Cheryl Heller

In the last decade, the centuries-old world of social innovation has been radically transformed by two forces. One is investment capital, which brought a legion of new participants, new models and ways of working, and new thinking about what impact is and how to measure it. The second (or first, depending on your point of view) is design.

Like money, design has proven its value to business –– in runaway products, killer apps, hot global brands, and in general, by creating the insatiable desire for beautiful new toys and services that keep free markets afloat.

Now, big money and pioneering organizations on the front lines of all the wicked issues we’re battling, from climate change to poverty to food insecurity, are placing major bets that design is the methodology that improves outcomes. But in this new territory, how does social innovation design work, really, and how do we know? We see evidence, but no one has undertaken a comprehensive effort to set standards for measuring it so that we can adapt it more broadly and scale it.

Five years ago I worked on creating a curriculum and establishing the first MFA graduate program in social design at the School of Visual Arts to address these intractable social problems. While at the two-year Design for Social Innovation (DSI) program, students examine issues related to food insecurity, healthcare, or poverty alleviation, and apply design principles to create a new solution or improve upon an existing product or methodology. And our alumni have gone on to create some powerful interventions: one student served meals in a dumpster as a means to educate diners about food waste (The Salvage Supperclub), another invented beautifully wrapped condoms to encourage women to take charge of their health (Lovability), and yet another designed a hospital management platform to reduce long patient waiting lines in India (The Good Guides).

Social design is the creation of healthy, mutually beneficial relationships between humans, with  technology, and between us and the earth. It requires diverse skills and experience, including systems design, critical thinking, strategy, game mechanics, innovation, and aesthetics to move people to think in new ways, behave differently, and become more resilient and resourceful themselves. To further examine this and celebrate the symbiosis between what we design and how it might improve the world around us, we created Design+Health.

On January 24th in New York City, we’re bringing together leaders in philanthropy, healthcare, business, NGOs and designers to begin the work of identifying and evaluating the impact of design on human health. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the lead sponsor, joined by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Autodesk and Sappi.

An audience of two hundred or so will hear from creators of design-led programs, and engage in conversation about their success, and how they measure it.

If you’re interested in how the design of a hospital can improve the health of the entire community, you’ll want to hear Michael Murphy of Mass Design talk about his systemic approach to measuring the impact of a built environment.

If you want to know how mobile technology can connect millions of women in Africa to vital information and care during pregnancy, come hear Jonathan McKay from talk about MomConnect and its success.

If you think it’s time patients had more confidence and agency in making decisions about their own treatment, you’ll want to hear Maggie Breslin, co-founder of The Patient Revolution, talk about design based tools to improve patients’ ability to engage doctors in dialog about their care.

And if you want to hear how the largest foundation in the world is integrating human-centered design into their work, listen to Tracy Johnson, from the Gates Foundation, who will talk about what she’s seeing and has learned.

Like impact capital, social design represents a new way of thinking about how we use creativity and resources to solve the problems of the world. We think it’s worth understanding more deeply.

Come join us.

To learn more and reserve a seat, visit

Cheryl Heller is Chair of MFA Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and a winner of the prestigious AIGA medal for her contribution to design. She advised Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian National Design Museum on the groundbreaking exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%,” and has been instrumental in building the PopTech community. She is a pioneering communication designer and business strategist and founder of CommonWise, working with leading brands like Seventh Generation, L’Oreal and Hachette Filipacci.

Inspiration and Celebrations from the Humans of SOCAP16

Posted by on December 21st, 2016

Every year the Social Capital Markets Conference brings together a diverse community of leading entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, and innovators. The community that came together at the Fort Mason center for SOCAP16 included over 2,500 changemakers from 60 countries around the world.

At this year’s conference we sent a team of volunteers out with a dry erase board, a camera and a question. They asked everyone they met at the Fort Mason Center: What is Inspiring You Right Now? Their celebrations were inspiring to us and we thought they might be to you too. Here are some of our favorite responses:


The eclectic mix of innovators and social impact mavens from around the world!

-Jamie Bay Nishi, @JamieDevex



So many smart and committed people making the world a better place!

-Upaya @UpayaSV



Passionate brilliant people working together.

-John Douglas @thejohndouglas



INGOS getting into impact investing!

-Mathu Jeyaloganathan @Mathu_Logan



2500 people wanting to change the world. We are not alone!

-Kyeyti @KheytiFarmers



The Entrepreneurial Cities Session: Inspired by the great ideas for how to care about our cities by working with local government AND citizens. The presenters shared models and programs for how to do this successfully.

-Gillian Haley, Justicewise LLC.




The Baltimore Delegation

Invested Impact

Mission: Launch Centro de los Derechos del Migrante

Impact Hub Baltimore

Social Innovation

City Seeds



-Invested Impact @InvestedImpact



African media and technology entrepreneurs.

-African Technology Foundation @Innovate_Africa



Women investing in women and girls.

-I Look Like a Civil Engineer @ilooklikeaCE



All the good people.

-CoPower @CoPowerInc



Meeting awesome B Corps!

-B Corporation @BCorporation



Cross Collaboration.

-Annie Chor @AnnieChor


We express our gratitude to everyone at SOCAP16 who shared their inspirations with our volunteers. Thanks also to all of you who are working to create positive social and environmental impact. You inspire us year after year.

Join us to Get Inspired at SOCAP17

Tickets for SOCAP17 are now on sale. The 2017 Social Capital Markets Conference will take place October 10, 2017 – October 13, 2017 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, CA.

Get Your SOCAP17 Ticket Here

Purchase your SOCAP17 tickets now to get the best rate possible. Double your impact by giving a SOCAP17 ticket to an inspirational changemaker who needs to be part of the conversation at the next conference.

2016’s Top Stories on Impact Investing and Social Enterprise From SOCAP’s Media Partners

Posted by on December 14th, 2016

To encapsulate the year in impact, we asked a few of our media partners to share three must-read stories they published in 2016.

We partner with a growing number of independent media outlets that produce excellent coverage related to impact investing and social entrepreneurship, providing a year-round source of in-depth analysis and insightful stories on topics that matter to the SOCAP community.

Photo by Sumit Kohl, Sreel Photography

Photo by Sumit Kohl, Sreel Photography

Real Leaders


Curated by Grant Schreiber, Editor of Real Leaders

Launched in 2010, Real Leaders is the world’s first sustainable business & leadership magazine. With a global audience of more than 24,000 CEOs in 130 countries, who control more than $6 trillion in spend, the magazine aims to inspire better leaders for a better world; a world of far-sighted, sustainable leadership that helps find solutions to the world’s problems. Real Leaders invests in social entrepreneurs, organizations and events that are creating a better world and having a positive impact – reaching more than 100 million people worldwide each year – including their latest investment: “SOCAP in partnership with Real Leaders.”

Richard Branson: Reinventing how we live and work to become a force for good.

The energetic and playful entrepreneur believes the time is right for a radically different approach to business. He’s ready to explore the next great frontier.

Impact Investing Goes Mainstream.

You cannot separate people from the environment,” says former Mission Markets CEO Michael Van Patten, and current Founder of ethical investment tech company my4. His new company is a marketplace for investors within the impact and sustainability sector looking for a way to align their personal values with their investments. He shared his views on impact investing with us.

Making Money Matter

Nick O’Donohoe moved from big finance to a big society bank when he realized that investment meant more than just money in the bank. If you have a U.K. bank account that has been lying dormant for longer than 15 years, there’s a good chance Nick O’Donohoe now has your money. O’Donohoe is the CEO of Big Society Capital (BSC); a U.K. based social investment company and the world’s first social investment bank.

B Magazine


Curated by Jennifer Kongs, Managing Editor, B the Change Media

B the Change Media is the voice of People Using Business as a Force for Good, founded in conjunction with B Lab and the community of B Corporations.

Put Your Money Where Your Community Is

Detroit was a case study in bad government and urban blight, but then local investors and entrepreneurs said, “Enough.” From Detroit SOUP community crowdfunding meetings to organizations such as the New Economy Initiative, Develop Detroit and Capital Impact Partners, the city’s residents are showing control over their own destinies, and playing a vital role in bringing their own city back.  By Oscar Perry Abello

Underserved Communities, High-Growth Opportunity

Kesha Cash’s Impact America Fund is connecting pioneering investors with overlooked entrepreneurs to build a more diverse marketplace. In two years, Cash closed the fund with $10 million in assets under management and a focus on scaling tech solutions and uplifting underserved communities. By Susan Price, underwritten by the Case Foundation

The Lollapalooza of Investing

As “impact” becomes a buzzword and big-name investment firms step in, the annual SOCAP conference serves as a microcosm of the tensions and challenges surrounding social capital — and the debate about who deserves a seat at the table. By Amy Cortese

Conscious Company


Curated by Rachel Zurer, Editorial Director at Conscious Company

Conscious Company Magazine was the first nationally distributed publication in the US to focus solely on sustainable business and business as a force for good.

An Inspiring Story of What to Do with Extra Wealth

Carol Newell had a small fortune and a vision. Joel Solomon had the values and talent to bring it to life. Together, these pioneers of impact investing executed a 25-year plan that began to change Vancouver and ideas about what money can do.

With what by modern standards is actually a quite modest amount of “big money,” since 1993 Newell and Solomon’s influence has helped transform Vancouver’s economy from a resource-extractive environmental problem zone to one of the world’s premier hotbeds of tech innovation, sustainable enterprise, and smart growth. “We helped normalize a values-driven business orientation,” Newell says. “And we learned that leveraging personal capital in a radical way can actually fuel change significantly and quickly.”

This feature story tells the story of what the pair achieved, how they thought about it, and what’s next.

How to Shut Up, and Other Lessons From the Godfather

If you want to know what Jed Emerson thinks about investing or entrepreneurship, first read his books. He took a lot of time to write them, so get up to speed before asking for his input. Of course, his perspective is always evolving. It will have evolved between when he spoke to Amber Nystrom in August 2016 and when you meet him.

His ever-shifting thinking is a sign of what his mind is like these days: Open. Reflective. Curious. After decades of pioneering the “how” of combining purpose and profit, Emerson now finds himself more interested in the “why” — the deep questions about values and meaning. He’s pulled his nose out of the weeds and is busy exploring the meadow. After enjoying an afternoon wandering alongside him, we collected this bouquet of his thoughts on the future of conscious business, authentic leadership, and why it’s important to create the space for yourself to grow.

How to Change the World: Buy Stock. Make Demands. Repeat.

Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement at the Boston-based investment firm Arjuna Capital, is on a mission to address the gender-based pay disparities prevalent throughout the tech world. Her weapon of choice is the shareholder proposal, a little-known, yet extremely effective tool that democratizes investors’ ability to participate in the governance process of companies they own stock in. Using the shareholder proposal, Lamb, 33, has brought the issue of gender-based pay equity to nine of the largest tech companies in the world, and is achieving dramatic results. We spoke with Lamb about the process, the business case for pay equity, and what gave her the courage to take on the largest companies in the world.



Curated by Zuleyma Bebell, Director of Operations and Data Lead at ImpactAlpha

Led by David Bank, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, ImpactAlpha has become a leader in impact investing news and media outlet for the growing number of people who believe our most pressing social and environmental challenges represent the biggest business opportunities of the 21st century.

Global Entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley: We Have Arrived

The melding of Silicon Valley’s tech-fueled growth model and the explosion of entrepreneurial activity around the world is long overdue. For all of the disruptions wrought by the global digital revolution, the Valley has sometimes turned its back on the rest of the world. Overbroad as it may be, there’s some basis for the reputation that Sand Hill Road venture capitalists favor privileged, self-absorbed techies solving the urgent problems of 20-something San Francisco scenesters. This year there were a number of signs indicating that the Valley’s investors and other top VCs are beginning to look beyond apps, and beyond the Bay Area. In June of 2016, the rest of the world came to Silicon Valley, for the seventh Global Entrepreneurship Summit, sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Many, if not most of the 700 entrepreneurs and innovators are tackling social or environmental challenges.

Wishful Thinking: Clean Energy Revolution Trumps Climate Skepticism at Global Climate Talks

The falling price of solar energy and other renewables may trump the rise of climate-change skeptics in the U.S. government. Implementing the Paris Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy and prosperity to all, business leaders wrote at the Climate Conference in Marrakesh in November.

Read This if You are Not a Zillionaire: Impact Investing For the Rest of Us

Ample research indicates that everyday investors increasingly care about the impact of the investments they make. But impact investing products – funds, direct deals, social impact bonds and the like – have mostly been geared to high net worth individuals and institutional investors. Supply is beginning to catch up with demand for impact investing products for “retail” investors.



Curated by James Militzer, Senior Editor at NextBillion.

NextBillion focuses on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in emerging markets, so investing is at the heart of much of our work. These three articles give a taste of our impact investing coverage, which features blog posts, video and written interviews with industry leaders, conference coverage, aggregated news items and a calendar of impact-focused events.

Closing the $2.5 Trillion Gap: How blended finance can help achieve the SDGs

$3.9 trillion: As the estimated annual funding needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it’s one of the most quoted numbers in international development today. Coming up with those funds is a pretty tall order – especially considering that current annual levels of official development assistance funding are only $180 billion, with combined public and private investment in the SDGs at only $1.4 trillion. How can the world fill an annual funding gap of $2.5 trillion? According to Chris Clubb and Dean Segell at Convergence, private investors will be key to the effort – and blended finance could help. They describe the approach, its potential, and the challenges it faces in achieving scale in this article – one of hundreds of guest posts NextBillion publishes each year, from entrepreneurs, researchers and other thought leaders working across the development sector.

Hippies vs. Capitalists at SOCAP

The discussion at SOCAP is always thought-provoking, but this year one panel stood out. Called “Getting Real Around the Tensions of Impact,” it was framed around an interesting contradiction in impact investing: In its efforts to go mainstream, the industry has gone to great lengths to emphasize that it can deliver positive impact without conceding financial returns. But does that approach reinforce the existing market expectations for growth and short-term profit that have unleashed capitalism’s more destructive tendencies in the first place? The panelists discussing the topic didn’t hold back – and neither did our analysis, which wondered whether SOCAP’s “hippie vibe” is too easily discarded when discussion shifts from the need for the world to change its wealth structures, to the suggestion that investors might have to accept less money in the process.

Impact Investing Buzz: GIIN and Toniic Mix with Growth Reports

Along with SOCAP (one of our favorites), NextBillion attends several key conferences throughout the year. Contributing editor Scott Anderson recently got back from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)’s Investor Forum in Amsterdam, and he filed an intriguing report on some buzz-worthy new studies that sparked discussion there. One knock against impact investing, he wrote, is the lack of long-term data and platforms to observe deals in a more transparent way. But at the conference, the GIIN and Toniic, arguably the industry’s most influential trade groups, both released reports designed to turn around those perceptions. Anderson discussed the studies and what they could mean for the sector in this post – one example of NextBillion’s extensive conference coverage, which includes editorial analysis, live-tweeting, live video of panels, and insightful interviews with the thought leaders in attendance.

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)


Curated by Carrie Pogorelc, the Advertising, Events, and Circulation Manager at Stanford Social Innovation Review

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is a powerful resource for social change leaders from around the world and from all sectors of society, providing insights into the strategies, ideas, innovations, practices, tools, and research that organizations are employing to transform the world for the better.

Tackling Heropreneurship

We’ve entered an era of heropreneurship, where reverence for the heroic social entrepreneur has led countless people to pursue a career path that promises opportunities to save the world, gain social status, and earn money, all at the same time. Daniela Papi-Thorton explains why we need to move from “the social entrepreneur” to social impact.

Across the Returns Continuum 

For many years, the field of impact investing played host to great debates that involved seemingly irreconcilable positions: Was it possible to achieve both market-rate financial returns and meaningful social impact? Could philanthropic funding coexist effectively with commercial investment? Now, as the field reaches a new stage of maturity, leading social finance organizations are developing models that bring greater sophistication to the work of evaluating investment options. These models, like the investors that create them, vary widely. But they reflect a shared commitment to moving beyond simple either-or choices—and to moving from broad questions to specific solutions.

Omidyar Network has built a framework for pursuing investment opportunities that takes into account not only firm-level impact but also market-level impact.

A Neoliberal Takeover of Social Entrepreneurship? 

Jyoti Sharma explores how a model of social entrepreneurship focused on market-based solutions and profit is threatening to crowd out more collaborative approaches.

SSIR is offering a $10-off discount for SOCAP conference attendees to stay informed and inspired about all things social innovation. Click here to subscribe with this discount!



Curated by Jennifer Boynton, Editor in Chief of TriplePundit features news and analysis on sustainable business and the triple bottom line.

Financing Fair Trade Supply Chains

Getting fair trade certified is one thing, but finding small-scale suppliers who are certified presents a whole new challenge. Here’s how Guayaki’s yerba mate farmers get the financing they need to meet market demand. Social finance and fair trade leaders are working on solutions to this critical funding gap.

Crowdfunding Now Open for Social Enterprise Start-ups

“Regulation crowdfunding” is a lot like Kickstarter, with one big difference: When investors send money through Wefunder or SeedInvest, they get stocks or bonds instead of CDs and thank-you notes. This represents a huge opportunity for small time investors to support companies they care about. Here’s how it works.

Education in Liberia: A Case Study in Maximizing Your Philanthropic Investment

Liberian schoolchildren face a number of obstacles. NGOs on the ground are out to help — and modest philanthropic investments can keep them going. But the practical nuts and bolts of moving supplies to people who need them don’t always get the funding attention they deserve. Here’s how one innovative NGO worked around this challenge.

To learn more about these and other valuable sources of information and commentary, read Gary Gach’s recent guide: The Good News: Media Outlets Focused on Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing

The Good News: Media Outlets Focused on Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing

Posted by on December 8th, 2016

A SOCAP Guest Post by Gary Gach

The ever-growing SOCAP community is witnessing history in the making: the birth and fostering of a new economy, a new economy that’s inclusive, regenerative, and truly thriving. We are making a new road at the intersection of money and meaning and several impact-focused, independent media outlets are covering it. To help you find and follow the latest developments, we offer this informal survey of print and digital media outlets that report on the burgeoning impact space.

Real Leaders

real-leadersLaunched in 2010, Real Leaders is the world’s first sustainable business & leadership magazine. With a global audience of more than 24,000 CEOs in 130 countries, who control more than $6 trillion in spend, the magazine aims to inspire better leaders for a better world; a world of far-sighted, sustainable leadership that helps find solutions to the world’s problems.

They want to ensure that the next generation of leaders, in all spheres of influence, are exposed to the best and brightest minds in the hope that they are inspired to find profitable business solutions that benefit humankind.

A combination of print and digital magazines are distributed to a global subscriber base, Whole Foods stores and at more than 40 events of global significance, including the World Summit of Nobel Laureates.

Real Leaders features exclusive interviews with leading figures who are striving for a better world – to amplify their impact and inspire others to succeed with a sustainability strategy of their own. Some notable interviews have included Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Forest Whitaker, Muhammad Yunus, Desmond Tutu and Sara Blakely.

Real Leaders advises and positions leaders to thrive in the new economy and has embedded ethical and sustainable business into its core: as a member of the United Nations Global Compact, a certified B Corporation and supporter of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Real Leaders invests in social entrepreneurs, organizations and events that are creating a better world and having a positive impact – reaching more than 100 million people worldwide each year – including their latest investment: “SOCAP in partnership with Real Leaders.”


alliance-magazine-logoWith readers in 120 nations, Alliance magazine has become one of the premier forums for news and views in the philanthropic sector, including social capital. They are based in Europe yet have always offered a very international outlook. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Alliance recently published a retrospective that shows how they’ve been a bellwether in extending the scope of giving to include the planet as well as one’s own backyard. And with their authors being peers within the field — sharing experiential analyses and first-hand know-how — Alliance has been steadily building community amongst individuals, corporations, foundations, and institutions.

They’ve always been noteworthy for maintaining a critical eye. As Charles Keidan takes the reins as editor, we can expect Alliance to take more and more of a stand on various issues — and expanded coverage of social enterprises will also be in the mix.

B the Change

btc_logo_positive_rgb-330x125B the Change Media’s motto is “People using business as a force for good.” For some, this is news, that business can be a force for change. This is news that stays new. And how refreshing to hear the focus being on human interaction. “People” here means managers and employees, business leaders and entrepreneurs, discriminating investors and discerning customers.

B the Change launched only last June. Yet CEO Bryan Welch had been envisioning such a venture for many years. He’d kept his passion in his view while working at other outlets aligned with his purpose, until conditions came together for him at B Lab, the nonprofit agency behind the B-Corps movement (which currently encompasses +1,700 certified B Corporations). Bryan Welch states, “We want to inspire people to make career decisions, business decisions, and buying decisions based on conscience.”

In keeping with the diversity of options which today’s media affords, this is a multi-platform enterprise. There’s a quarterly print magazine, a digital magazine, social media, newsletters, conferences and events, and more. Brand-new, yet B the Change is positioned to be a major player, for the long haul.

Conscious Company

conscious_black_magazineConscious Company magazine was the first print and digital, nationally distributed publication in the US to focus solely on sustainable business and business as a force for good. It began, as many endeavors do, as a conversation over a meal between two great friends. In 2014, founders Maren Keeley and Meghan French Dunbar were trying to answer the simple question, “Why doesn’t a print magazine about sustainable business exist in the US?” Both had studied sustainable business in graduate school and felt a need for a publication that brought the latest and greatest from the field in an aesthetically pleasing, beautiful way. Weeks of researching and discussing this question led them to another simple question, “Why not us?,” and in April 2014,Conscious Company magazine was born.

Based in Boulder, Colorado, the publication first hit stands nationwide, include all Whole Foods stores, in January 2015. With four issues in 2015 and six in 2016, the publication has quickly become a leading source of information for and about sustainable businesses and social entrepreneurship. In 2017, Conscious Company plan to grow its offerings to include live and virtual events, webinars, web-only stories, an improved digital edition, a jobs board, and more. A certified B Corp that practices the values of conscious leadership and for-benefit business in everything it does, Conscious Company isn’t just a media company. It’s a team with a mission to accelerate the transition to a purpose-driven economy, so that all people can find inclusive, long-term prosperity through meaningful work. 


logo-devex-impact-e928a7bd37a7a96075af16ffc4ece718DevEx Impact is a media platform for the global development community. Working with USAID, DevEx Impact connects more than 800,000 companies, organizations, and professionals in health, humanitarian, and sustainability — providing news, business intelligence, and funding & career opportunities.


1413842518-entrepreneur-logoEntrepreneur has been writing about entrepreneurs for nearly 20 years. Naturally, they include social entrepreneurs and impact investors. They’ve also recently featured a joint project of Impact Alpha and The Case Foundation (a great supporter of the impact investment ecosystem) and Impact Alpha entitled Profiles in Impact —  a series of case studies illustrating the sector’s breadth of opportunities available across geographies and asset classes.

Fast Company

fastcompanyFast Company has been around roughly as long as Entrepreneur, and has been covering the role of capital in social change with its own distinctive, fresh, creative voice. In 2009, Fast Company decided to call the general playing field “ethonomics” (”ethics” + “economics”). They’ve since come around to the more commonly entrenched phrase “impact investing.” So, when searching their archives, try both.

The Huffington Post

huffington-post-logo1Since its launch in 2005, The Huffington Post (often referred to as HuffPo) has grown into a premier progressive media platform. Things change, but currently I visit Profit + Purpose first, next Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), then roam around (Sustainability, Sustainable Food, Business Ethics, etc.)       


impact-alpha-logo-sm-1Since its launch in 2014, ImpactAlpha (“investment news for a sustainable edge”) has become a leading source of insight, analysis, and news about investments that generate social, environmental, and financial value. Founder David Bank took time to give us a brief guided tour, as follows: 

“Through Dealflow, our weekly roundup of impact investing transactions; Shifts, our monthly roundup of investment theses, trends and reports; and Returns on Investment, our popular podcast, ImpactAlpha has narrated the growth of impact investing as it has moved from the margins to the mainstream of global finance. 

“We’ve taken deep dives into such themes as Full Stack Capital (blended or layered finance), Financing Fish (sustainable seafood and oceans), Conservation Finance, and Base of the Pyramid. Our exploration of program-related investments, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was published in Stanford Social Innovation Review., aka ‘CrunchBase for Impact,’ acquired by ImpactAlpha in 2015, has become the largest open database of impact ventures, funds, and deals, with more than 15,000 profiles. ImpactSpace is the primary data provider for the Impact Network Map, now under development by the Case Foundation.

“As we approach 2017, it has become clear that the scale of the challenges, along with the scope of the opportunities requires ‘all hands on deck.’ The rise of xenophobia, demagoguery, and division can only be countered with a positive vision. ImpactAlpha plans to meet this need for a new narrative with a new publication focused on long-term thinking, global goals and an inclusive economy. We’ll broaden our focus on private capital and impact investment to embrace tech innovation, policy and advocacy, corporate and philanthropic investment, conscious consumerism and other strategies for positive impact. We aim to be the voice of the growing movement of ‘Agents of Impact’ who — across issues, industries, and geographies — are laying the foundation for a 21st century of shared, sustainable prosperity.”


locavesting-logoThe idea is as simple as pie: invest in your own Main Street rather than Wall Street. Locavesting is a spin-off of the seminal book of the same name by Amy Cortese. Here, her seasoned journalism savvy spotlights topics of particular appeal for both investors and entrepreneurs, each — as well as such general-interest matters as crowdfunding as an actual investment, thanks to the May provision of the JOBS Act.

At SOCAP16, with Arno Hesse, she unveiled the beta version of a brilliant tool for finding local investment possibilities by category. With the same innovative flair that coined “locavesting,” it’s called Investibule.


nextbillion_logo-copyNextBillion is a community of business leaders, social entrepreneurs, NGO managers, policy makers, academics and others exploring the connection between development and enterprise. NextBillion chronicles new trends in market solutions to poverty that benefit the world’s 4 billion low-income producers and consumers – often known as the base of the pyramid. The site features in-depth analysis and opinion from thought leaders and researchers – as well as on-the-ground insights from social entrepreneurs. NextBillion also offers an editor-curated newsfeed, a calendar of important events, and a career center with continuously updated job opportunities across the “development through enterprise” market sector. Now in its second decade of publishing, NextBillion’s goal is to stimulate discussion, raise awareness and provide a platform for sharing ideas that improve the lives of the poor and reshape entire economies.

Positive News

positive-news-logo-1Founded by Shauna Crockett Burrows in 1993, Positive.News defines itself as a magazine of constructive journalism. Online and in print, they examine our society’s challenges through a lens of progress and possibility. Now arguably the oldest publication for quality reporting that inspires, Positive News is owned and supported by a global community, rather than a corporate conglomerate. A magazine and a movement, they are changing the news for good.

Stanford Social Innovation Review

ssir_logo-rgb_blackImpact investing is ever-more-relevant to Stanford Social Innovation Review’s mission to “inform and inspire leaders of social change” through its quarterly print magazine and daily online content. Founded in 2003 at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, the publication has since moved to the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and maintains a strong interest in business-inspired solutions to social problems, alongside other approaches. It now offers content across several sectors—nonprofits, philanthropy, business, government, and academia—and on a range of topics, including health, education, the environment, and social services.

As a topic relevant across these areas, impact investing features prominently in SSIR. Frequent articles provide challenging perspectives and debates on impact investing methods such as pay-for-success and green bonds, development aid and social enterprise, and program-related investments. SSIR’s winter 2017 print issue features a pair of articles by Omidyar Network and Root Capital on their sophisticated models for evaluating investment options. SSIR offers additional analysis and information through webinars, conferences, podcasts, book excerpts, videos, and a weekly newsletter.


triplepunditlogo-1TriplePundit takes their name from the new triple bottom line (TBL, 3BL) which takes people, planet (social, ecological, and financial), and profit all into account. On the scene for over a decade now, their topics of coverage range from sustainable food and global water & energy challenges, to social justice, economic equality, and  corporate social responsibility (CSR). They’ve created a community of over a half million readers a month, a diverse group ranging from MBA students to consultants, corporate executives to social entrepreneurs.

The Weekend Briefing

kylewestawayKyle Westaway fell into social entrepreneurship through establishing with friends a company employing and empowering survivors of the Southeast Asian sex trade. Doing so, they were struck by the power of business to create a positive impact. Today, he advises early-stage entrepreneurs at his law firm, and teaches about social entrepreneurship at Harvard.

Weekends, he edits The Weekend Briefing. Why? As he tells SOCAP readers.: “Most of my friends and clients are entrepreneurs. They have their heads down all week trying to build their companies. If they’re lucky, they catch a few headlines during the week, but have no time to find the stuff actually worth reading. So, I do the work for them with the Weekend Briefing. I find the best think pieces on innovation, impact, and growth and summarize them in one simple email on Saturday morning. In a sea of content, we find the articles worth reading.

“It only takes a couple minutes to read the email and get the main ideas, but if some idea resonates, you can dive deeper by reading the whole article.”


yes-logoYes! really gets the next economy. They understand how it “puts people first and works within the carrying capacity of the Earth.” And that “any economic rescue program must result in systemic change that doesn’t replicate the current mistakes.” Since insight must give rise to action, they’re doing their part to help to build such possibility, amplifying the voices pointing the way to the kind of economy that serves people and communities. Also of note, founder and editor-at-large Sarah van Gelder’s next book will be released in January by Barrett Koehler, entitled The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America. (Barret Koehler, themselves, have made a name for themselves as a premier, independent publisher connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for us all.)

And More…

Other, related media outlets that are also part of the story but for which space did not permit annotated mention include:

And do check out On Impact, a weekly digest of impact investing, social impact, and social innovation news edited by Cathy Clark.

Apologies if we’ve overlooked anyone this time around.

News You Can Use

These independent media outlets connect us with news that’s too often overlooked in the mainstream: the good news. Rather than struggling in a culture of cynicism and despair, in a race to the bottom, social economic innovators are living the change they want to see in the world. Rather than get pulled away by the intellectual paralysis of analysis, detailing everything that’s not working, people here are fully aligned with positive possibilities and actively bringing them to fruition. And press coverage of it all isn’t short-term, facile entertainment, but is, rather, a shouldering of challenging, innovative, and discerning economic views, bringing you news you can use. So, as my friend Wes “Scoop” Nisker used to say, concluding his free-form radio newscasts in the ’60s: if you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.

gg-head-likenessGary Gach is an award-winning free-lance researcher, writer, editor, and content consultant. Reach him at

The Sessions @ SOCAP16: Impact Convening Information, Tools, Practices, and Outcomes

Posted by on November 29th, 2016

A SOCAP Guest Post By Avary Kent, Executive Director of

conveners_logo_squareSOCAP’s annual gathering of mission-focused investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders is always a highlight for 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 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

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 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, 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 initiatives, send us an email at And make sure to connect with us next year at SOCAP17!


A registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, 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 and the role they play in the impact ecosystem, read our SOCAP Conversations interview with Avary Kent from 2015.