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Leading SOCAP Through the Years: Connecting Changemakers to Accelerate Impact

SOCAP Global September 19, 2023

A Money + Meaning Podcast with Rosa Lee Harden, Kevin Doyle Jones, Lindsay Smalling, Tim Freundlich, and Robert Munson

By embracing a broader view of impact and community from the start, the people who helped found and nurture SOCAP built a strong foundation for an event that continues to grow and connect global changemakers. From the first SOCAP conference in 2008 to the upcoming SOCAP23, the behind-the-stage leadership shares a passion for building the impact community while creating an event to help drive action on some of the world’s most pressing challenges.  

A new Money + Meaning podcast features the story behind SOCAP’s origins and a look at its future, drawn from a conversation at SOCAP22. SOCAP Global President Robert Munson facilitated the Q&A with other SOCAP leaders and founders: 

The early organizers saw an opportunity and a need for an impact investing event that served as a marketplace for a broader swath of changemakers. For them, a gathering focused on the intersection of money and meaning should include a diverse range of individuals who can play a role in building positive social and environmental impact around the world.

That desire to bring in new voices and under-represented viewpoints continues, said Jones, a SOCAP founder who helped organize the event for about 10 years. “We need to be the scout on the edge finding the folks whose voices are not in the room but should be,” Jones said. “The question is, ‘Who’s not here, and why aren’t they here?’” 

That includes connecting existing institutions — philanthropy, economic development, and more — with new ideas and opportunities. “The original story was to bring together these themes and siloed folks into our oasis who haven’t been together before,” Jones said. “SOCAP serves as a place where you come to hope for a new economy.”   

As the event’s schedule, setting, and other elements have evolved through the years, SOCAP organizers maintain a focus on facilitating connections and providing a forum for discovery. “You can make magic anywhere if you have the people, the ingredients, the structure to capture it,” said Freundlich, another SOCAP founder who worked on the event for about a decade.

While SOCAP conferences are built on hope, Freundlich noted that they are also grounded in the reality of immense social and environmental challenges and the urgent need for collaborative, innovative solutions. “We should be in a constant state of impatient fear and hope to get agitated enough to do something,” Freundlich said. 

In her role as SOCAP producer for a decade, Harden worked with others to ensure that the conference continued to put both money and meaning in the spotlight by providing a stage for honest conversations on timely, challenging topics. “Doing well while doing good is not what SOCAP was to be about — SOCAP was to be disruptive,” she said. “We need to find a way to build an economy that works for everybody.”

While serving in a variety of roles at SOCAP from 2010 to 2019, Smalling saw and heard how attendees from a range of sectors and industries found value while connecting with others at the event. “We see people at the tables, we hear the words from the stage … but a lot of these things are hard to trace as direct contributions,” she said. “Deals accelerate here. … That’s impact in and of itself.” 

It’s a legacy that Munson and the current team continue to build upon as they prepare for SOCAP23 and continue to build on the event’s history as a big-tent event for the impact community. “People feel like is a part of them,” he said. 

Listen to the full Money + Meaning conversation to learn about the origins of the SOCAP name, the story behind the flower pin, the unique aspects of its first site at Fort Mason, and more.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to Money + Meaning on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, or anywhere else you find podcasts. 

Listen to more episodes of Money + Meaning here.

Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.

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