Behind the Scenes of SOCAP23 with Tova Lobatz, Executive Director of Partnerships
This is the second installment of our SOCAP Behind the Scenes interview series. In this series, members of the SOCAP team openly share how it is approaching this year’s event, building on the event’s legacy with an approach designed to meet the current needs of the impact community — and see around corners to the future of the global impact movement. Because no great event has ever been hosted by a single organization alone, I sat down with Tova Lobatz to hear how SOCAP finds and engages with mission-aligned partners to expand their reach and amplify each other’s voices. Tova has been a lifelong supporter of the arts and arts nonprofits. Prior to joining SOCAP, she fundraised for public art projects through grant writing and traditional nonprofit fundraising; she worked in art spaces and environmental conservation. Over the past year, Tova was able to bring that passion to the world of SOCAP by building and expanding SOCAP’s network of partners.
How does SOCAP partner with other organizations?
It all starts with an honest conversation about the impact the organization is having and making sure there is alignment between the two. Our annual convening offers a great platform to uplift partners, amplify their work, and accelerate the change they’re driving. I ask each partner what goals they’re pursuing and what programs they have planned for the coming year. With these priorities in mind, we explore how we can help them achieve their goals within our SOCAP community.
For example, the conference allows partners to showcase their thought leadership, workshop new ideas with an engaged audience, and shine a light on the entrepreneurs they work with. Beyond that, our webinars, newsletter, and podcast offer a direct pathway to engage with the SOCAP community in between our annual events. Depending on our partners’ desired impact and timeline, we are able to offer greater visibility and genuine engagement with the SOCAP community – during SOCAP and beyond.
Each relationship is unique. We work hard to create partnerships that are long-lasting and accelerate each other’s mission by working side by side to achieve our goals.
Why do organizations partner with SOCAP?
People come to SOCAP because the community represents a broad audience that shares a common interest: making a difference in the world and finding the right capital vehicles to catalyze that change. Having so many mission-aligned people in one place represents a great opportunity to find potential collaborators from across many sectors. By putting a spotlight on a partner organization and its initiatives, we want to help guide attendees through the vast sea of possible connections. It’s not unlike a lighthouse. Every attendee can drift through the SOCAP crowd and have great conversations with anyone and everyone. When our partners present, they send a strong signal. By highlighting their mission and projects – be it on the main stage or through one of our other carefully curated content formats – attendees who want to get involved have an easier time finding these opportunities. Being a SOCAP partner maximizes their exposure within an already mission-aligned audience.
For example, we have long-standing partnerships with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. They have leveraged SOCAP over the years to announce new programs and to find other partners that help them achieve their mission. Their ability to share what they’re doing with the SOCAP community has, in turn, accelerated their mission.
How does the SOCAP community benefit from partnerships?
I’ve heard of entrepreneurs raising over $7 million at SOCAP. Attending SOCAP is not a guarantee that you will find the investors you’re looking for, but it’s certainly the place to make the right connections and build your network that is the foundation for systemic change.
If you attend SOCAP, you might be two steps away from a deal: you’re networking, you’re meeting people, and you might be reconnecting with potential partners. While you may not go home with a signed check right away, you’re planting the seeds that can bear fruit in the weeks and months to come. Beyond deals, SOCAP is the place to meet your co-conspirators, connect with thought leaders, and surround yourself with the people you want to bring along on your change-making journey.
What does a SOCAP partnership look like?
Based on that initial conversation about impact, a partner’s goals and timeline, we develop a customized partner experience that aligns with both our missions and expectations.
Within that, we have a lot of different options: recognition, different content opportunities, or hosting a networking session. Partners typically work very closely with SOCAP’s content team to create a format that best meets their objectives. If our partner wants to showcase their thought leadership, we can design a break-out session or main stage talk that offers them the stage and the right audience to share their message. If they’re looking for a more personal and intimate setup, we can create space for private receptions and networking. If a partner wants to dive deep into their niche with a dedicated group of experts, a Delegate-led session or a Lightning talk might be the best fit.
To give you an example, we have worked closely with the Skoll Foundation to create an access fund so they can bring more of their fellows to SOCAP. Skoll is very passionate about bringing networks together, to convene their fellows from across the world and to have a platform to share what they’re experiencing and learning in the field of social change.
Which SOCAP23 track are you most excited about?
I’m new to impact investing, so I’m particularly interested in value chain investment. I like the idea of driving change holistically. How do you solve the problems along the entire journey instead of just fixing one link in a long chain? Instead of charitable donations, I feel that re-investing into their own value chains is a great motivator for the private sector to critically assess their social, governance, and environmental impact. I look forward to learning from practitioners in the field about what is working, what challenges arise in this approach, and what ripple effects this creates throughout the value chain. But frankly, I really can’t wait to experience everything that SOCAP has to offer this year. There’s something for everyone to have new insights and leave inspired.