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.
With 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
B 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 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.
DevEx 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.
Entrepreneur 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 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
Since 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.)
Since 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.
“ImpactSpace.com, 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.”
The 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 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.
Founded 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
Impact 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.
TriplePundit 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 Weekly Briefing
Kyle 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 Weekly 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! 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.)
Other, related media outlets that are also part of the story but for which space did not permit annotated mention include:
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.
Gary Gach is an award-winning free-lance researcher, writer, editor, and content consultant. Reach him at GaryGach.com