A Deeper Look at the SOCAP22 Themes
The world is witnessing a lot of “moments” right now. The COVID-19 pandemic, the racial reckoning triggered by the murder of George Floyd, global conflicts, an urgent climate crisis, looming recessions, the ever-growing wealth gap — moments the impact community is uniquely positioned to address. These events have shown us the interconnectedness of our global systems and the need for capital decision-makers to move with urgency. They have also highlighted the importance of building connections in the impact community to drive sustained action in response to each of these moments and create a movement that influences how we work every day.
If we are still doing work in impact the same way we did in 2019, we cannot respond to these moments or address what the future needs of us. We will become irrelevant, and we will not succeed in our goals.
Impact investing itself has often been called a movement, and it, too, has had and continues to have its moments. From the coining of the term in 2007 to the first SOCAP convening in 2008 to today in 2022, where impact investing has since grown to encompass a huge variety of investment strategies across asset classes, impact areas, sectors, and geographies. And, looking even further, the work against oppression and for justice has been ongoing for generations.
The movement of capital for impact must widen its aperture to learn from the decades-long climate movement, labor movements, and civil rights movement; from the community organizers knocking on doors and meeting their neighbors to find common ground and build workable solutions, and from all the others leading the grassroots charge for change. These movements and solutions, too, are made of moments. They are green shoots in a barren field; the more green shoots we can sprout, the sooner we have a lush, verdant field. It is time to sow a lot more seeds of change.
We must do more to support nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and other ecosystem players working hard to meet the urgent needs of communities and pave our path to a better way. The lines have brightened between what matters and what doesn’t as we more clearly see the interconnectedness among health care, education, the digital divide, racial inequality, childcare, and supply chains. But seeing these links alone is not enough. While we now more fully recognize this interconnectedness, we have yet to make the necessary changes to act interdependently, with the required urgency — and with hope.
What does it mean for the SOCAP community to center justice as its operating principle to connect and sustain the impact movement? How does that change the impact economy and how does it change the way capital moves? How can we shift our perception and definition of risk, our acceptable rate of growth and return, and re-examine how we value varying types of experience as we build our teams? How many brilliant ideas from people not at the table are currently being underutilized and, thus, limiting our progress? How is impact investing actually going to grow into its own impact?
It’s time to demand and create the changes our world requires to allow all people and the planet to not just survive, but thrive.
Building a Movement From Moments at SOCAP22
Our approach to the themes and agenda design for SOCAP22 is to move us more urgently toward radical collaboration, recognizing that we need each other to resist and repair global injustices, address the climate crisis, and build better systems for all. There’s urgency in the world of impact today, particularly after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Our themes practically scream urgent collaboration, because time is short and we need to get together to find and amplify solutions and voices no matter where they come from.
SOCAP pitches the big tent in order to convene the voices and solutions in one place. In the annual calendar of events, there are niche verticals that conferences address. At SOCAP, people gather from across specializations and backgrounds to find fellow changemakers actively participating in the impact economy. These valuable strangers are in the lunch line, at the cocktail table, participating in a session, presenting on stage, or just taking a stroll in the gardens at YBCA during some downtime.
Our goal is for SOCAP not to be just another moment but to tie into this greater movement-building. This year, we have fewer sessions and more dedicated time to get to know your fellow attendees — to learn from and connect with as many other solutions-creators as possible to help speed up the pace of trust, deepen understanding and interconnectedness, and facilitate radical collaboration.
Movement is active, so attendees, speakers, partners, and facilitators will all be active participants in the event as in your everyday work. We will experience interactive, action-oriented sessions to help us all embody what’s happening – to take in something new, meet someone new, and then do something about it, together.
When we gather together, we will focus on lifting up ways of thinking that inspire sustained action and offer approaches to working together as we’ve never worked together before. We will rise to the occasion to transform intersecting systems.
This piece and SOCAP22 content are co-authored by SOCAP Global and Make Justice Normal.