ONE WORLD: Innovations in Corporate Social Impact Summit

A fantastic line-up of corporate professionals will offer insight into the various initiatives underway at their organizations geared at increasing corporate social and environmental impact. With many activities now extending far beyond traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, the primary goals of this event are to educate participants about the practical programs and initiatives achieving success and generating maximum impact through an in-depth program of talks, panel discussions and peer-to-peer networking.

WHAT'S UNIQUE
Focus - This program is focused on corporate initiatives where both financial and social goals are achieved simultaneously.
Participants - Attendees across a variety of corporate functions: Executive Office, Product and Service Line Leaders, Finance, Marketing & Sales, HR and Operations.
Local - The program is designed for companies based in the Bay Area to build the community of local professionals working toward a common cause.


SHIFTING PATTERNS: Building Effective Teams for Social Impact

With increased demands for bold solutions to urgent problems, high expectations for impact, and limited resources, we can end up taking our relationships with co-workers for granted. However, it's the quality of these relationships that ultimately determines our success.

Building Effective Teams for Social Impact is a 5-month program, based in Washington, DC, which is designed for nonprofit, social enterprise, and socially responsible business leaders who want to find out what's really getting in the way of effective teamwork and develop the skills to collaboratively solve these challenges.


5 Top Mapping Resources for Social Impact Leaders

The impact ecosystem is expanding, and while local and regional ecosystem mapping efforts — such as UnLtd USA’s Austin Social Entrepreneurship Network Map, Cogent’s Twin Cities Impact Investing Ecosystem Map, and Root Change’s Global Impact Investment Map (GIIMAP) of the impact investment community in Mexico and Central America — have taken shape in the past few years, a new wave of mapping initiatives are sprouting that enable leaders to better understand and navigate the larger impact ecosystem. Here are a few of those such resources that will help you see the big picture and connect the dots in between.

1. ANDE’s Mapping the Ecosystems

A great place to start is the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)’s collection of mapping projects that identify the actors, gaps, and opportunities in social entrepreneurship. Launched in 2016, their Mapping the Ecosystems website provides a list of ecosystem mapping resources and an ecosystem diagnostic toolkit that maps and measures the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Check out the site here, and explore the site’s other resources that support a social entrepreneur’s journey.

2. Accelerator Selection Tool

Working in partnership with leading databases and impact accelerator networks, capacity-builder Conveners.org has developed the Accelerator Selection Tool, which maps the global impact accelerator landscape, helping social entrepreneurs easily find information that best fits the needs of their ventures, while providing data about social entrepreneurs and market trends to accelerators and investors. The tool is set to launch later this month; sign up for this Accelerators newsletter to get information when it launches.

3. Impact Investing Network Map

Informed by open source data and developed in partnership with the Case Foundation, this online map is an informational aid designed to help map the existing impact investing landscape. According to its website, the the Impact Investing Network Map “aims to present the best publicly available information on impact investments to better inform the sector.” The interactive online tool allows you to search for companies and investors based on the investment objective, industry, geography, certifications and more.

4. Good Capital Project

A SOCAP Group collaborative, the Good Capital Project (GCP) is mapping the ecosystem through convening. A two-year project focused on generating innovative and sustainable solutions to align the capital markets with the human needs of tomorrow, the GCP convened a broad range of impact leaders in June 2017  in New York City to begin to drive greater collaboration and accelerate capital flows into purpose-driven investments. Go here to learn how to get involved.

5. Mapping the Mappers

The organization behind the Accelerator Selection Tool, Conveners.org has also organized Mapping the Mappers, a network of impact mappers that raises awareness of global impact mapping efforts, identifies opportunities for mapping coordination, and creates the foundation for data-driven collaboration that benefits the entire impact ecosystem. Sign up here to join the next Mapping the Mappers to learn how to contribute to current ecosystem mapping initiatives.

Whether you’re a social entrepreneur, impact investor, funder, or part of a support program, these mapping efforts not only provide valuable information on the current impact ecosystem, they also provide a helpful dose of perspective on entrepreneurial success and impact.

This post originally appeared in Conscious Company Media and is republished here with permission. Nayelli Gonzalez is the Managing Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships of Conveners.org. 


MELTON FOUNDATION: Global Citizenship Conference 2017

CONVENERS.ORG MEMBER EVENT

Every year, the Melton Foundation convenes for a week-long Global Citizenship Conference (GCC) in order to provide and exchange tools and resources that enable solving pressing global challenges.
The GCC convenes about 100 Global Citizenship advocates, practitioners, and experts from across the globe to build a community of global citizens, encourage collaborative learning, and expand the outreach of global citizenship.

Once again, it’s that time of the year - Akwaaba!

At our 26th GCC, we are gathering in Ghana from 13-19 August 2017 to help answer one big question:
What is the role of a Global Citizen in a world that is in flux?

With the increasing unpredictability and interconnected nature of our world, in which today's greatest
challenges, from climate change to poverty, inequality to displacement, natural resource depletion to
overpopulation, are global in nature the call for a paradigm shift is becoming increasingly louder. We
call this Global Citizenship!

Be a part of this experience and join our journey towards global citizenship today! REGISTER AT http://bit.ly/RegisterGCC2017 (registration open until 30 June 2017, limited spaces available)


The Best Free Social Enterprise Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed

Whether you are in the planning stages of launching a social enterprise, are brainstorming whether your idea is plausible or you simply want your business to have a stronger social impact, there are countless tools available online. However, it can be difficult to determine which are the most effective. To help you on your journey, we have found the best free tools for your social enterprise you didn’t know you needed.

B Lab Impact Assessment Tool

Developed with a vision that in a generation’s time, all businesses will measure and manage their impact as readily as they do profitability, the B Impact Assessment provides standards, benchmarks and tools for businesses. You can either spend 30 minutes of your time to get a quick snapshot of how to build a better business for your team, community and the environment, or two to three hours for a full impact report. Over 40,000 businesses, including names such as Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy and Kick Starter have already used this easy survey to improve the social impact of their work, and it has received glowing reviews online.

Big Society Capital: Social Impact Tests

Big Society Capital invests directly in social investment finance intermediaries (SIFIs). As wholesale investors, Big Society Capital must ensure that social value is delivered both by SIFIs and by charities and social enterprises receiving the investment. They created a social impact test that is used by their investment team to evaluate proposals for investment. The test is split into two broad sections: Social Impact and Risk, Process and Governance and can be applied flexibly to assess different types of investment proposals. This in-depth test is a great tool for taking a critical look at your social enterprise structure.

SVA Business Planning Guide for Social Enterprises

This 46-page, visually informative guide is primarily aimed at people and/or organisations who are interested in starting a social enterprise for the first time. Developed by Social Ventures Australia and Parramatta City Council, the guide is to be used in conjunction with standard business planning guidance. This step-by-step PDF prompts you to think about researching, planning for, starting and then growing a social enterprise. It is also designed to be a useful resource for more experienced practitioners, acting as a reference point and refresher.

Social Lean Canvas

Developed by Rowan Yeoman and Dave Moskovitz, the Social Lean Canvas is a tool that allows social enterprises to develop coherent business models quickly and simply. Utilising just one page, social enterprises can methodically test their models and arrive at a thoroughly validated, scalable and repeatable business model.

By brainstorming their purpose, a solution to problems, unique value proposition and financial sustainability, social enterprises can quickly conclude whether their social goals are viable and long-lasting. You can download this social enterprise tool for free from the Social Lean Canvas website, along with an example canvas of Tom’s Shoes.

UntLtd: A Comprehensive Guide to Developing Your Social Enterprise

Based in the UK, UnLtd invests directly in individual changemakers by offering funding, ongoing advice, networking and practical support. Their 229-page comprehensive toolkit takes you through the various life cycles of being a social enterprise, from the initial idea through to long term growth and replication. It provides practical guidance and working models so that future social enterprises can learn about the challenges and opportunities of social entrepreneurship in a structured way.

Civicus: Writing a Funding Proposal

If your social enterprise is new to fundraising, this toolkit is a great resource to utilise. Covering the planning and researching stage, tips on how to write the proposal and the follow-up required once it is written and sent off; this toolkit includes an example fundraising proposal. Developed by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the toolkit provides links to other CIVICUS toolkits that can help you on your social enterprise journey.

By tapping into these free social enterprise tools, you can ensure your current or future social enterprise is achieving optimal results without having to spend a cent. We would love to hear your thoughts on the above tools, so please comment below.

This post originally appeared in Social Change Central and is republished here with permission. Social Change Central connects changemakers with the support they need to convert their passion and ideas for social change into real social impact. From funding to awards, events, competitions, exposure, programs and more, Social Change Central brings together the most up-to-date social impact opportunities available in one comprehensive online resource.


WHARTON SOCIAL IMPACT INITIATIVE: Wharton Social Impact Conference

The Wharton Social Impact Conference brings together a network of impact-oriented business and community leaders with the shared goal of driving sustainable social change. This flagship conference spans various sectors and pulls from the experience of industry practitioners.

This event will bring together a community of corporate social “change-makers”, social entrepreneurs, impact investors, nonprofit and government executives, philanthropists, and university students with the shared vision of driving social change. Together we explore questions around social impact and business: what works, how, and why?

This event is presented by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, in collaboration with students from the MBA Wharton Social Impact Club, and students from the Wharton MBA Program for Executives.

Current students and nonprofit employees receive discounted admission.

If you are interested in learning more about leveraging business to create positive social, environmental, and financial impact, we welcome you to join us. Fill out this form to sign up to receive updates on the conference, including exclusive early-bird ticket pricing and information on speakers.


NCRC: Annual Conference

Join NCRC and leaders from business, government, community non-profits, media and academia March 28-30, 2017 in Washington, D.C. for cutting edge dialogue and hands-on trainings, workshops, plenaries, and topical sessions on issues affecting America’s communities.

Why Attend the 2017 NCRC Annual Conference?
This event is the largest national gathering of community non-profits, policymakers, government officials, small businesses, media, and academia–all focused on how together we can create a more just economic framework to improve the lives of American families, our workers, our older adults, our children and our environment, while strengthening global access to credit and capital.

For nonprofit executives and practitioners, the conference is an opportunity to learn about successful strategies used in other communities, to understand how non-traditional solutions can address existing and emerging concerns, and to exchange ideas with colleagues from across the country. Topics will include community efforts to ensure consumer protection and responsible banking and lending, economic revitalization, workforce development strategies, how to use data for advocacy, and addressing the needs of older adults.

For fair housing professionals, the conference is an opportunity to engage with colleagues on issues such as mortgage servicing, exclusionary zoning, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, disparate impact, and other important community concerns. This includes gaining a clear understanding of emerging legal issues and cases, and how they may affect local communities.

For local, state, and federal policymakers, the conference is a chance to learn about the concerns that are at the forefront of community efforts across the country. These issues include consumer protection, age-friendly banking standards and practices, local responsible banking ordinances, and new opportunities for communities to work with and influence banks and regulators. It is also a chance for community leaders to hear from people who are in a position to enact policy changes that can improve communities.


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: frank

CONVENERS.ORG MEMBER

The frank gathering is a pipeline for creating new strategies and talent that drive social change. Communications professionals, academics, researchers, artists, philanthropists, business leaders and advocates – they come together to connect evidence to action for on-the-ground impact. People arrive hungry for solutions, become humbled by the challenge and leave empowered to make big change.

Our theme this year is curiosity, an essential ingredient for empathy, drawing attention and driving change.


Impact Convening Trends for 2017

As an organization that facilitates connection, learning, and collaboration among impact-driven conveners from around the world, Conveners.org recognizes the transformative power that convening, when done right, has to positively change the world. Through our engagement with our powerful conveners community and our own advisory service work designing and facilitating all types of impact-focused convenings, we are in a unique position to see what works (and what has not) in the art of bringing people together.  

Based on our broad exposure and knowledge of the impact convening space, here are seven trends we foresee for 2017:  

  1. Paradigm Shift Towards Experiential Models of Convening: Over the past few years, we’ve been hearing from conference participants that their limited budgets, combined with the increasing pool of impact conferences to choose from, has forced them to reconsider where to invest their conference dollars. As a result, conference goers are choosing convenings that focus on the experience and aid them in building relationships that advance their work and lead to partnershipsand this trend will continue into 2017. Those conferences where the caliber of the people in the room create such a valuable experience are the ones that have seen a growth in attendance. Here are a few examples of what some of these conferences are doing differently:
    • This year Skoll World Forum is inviting other organizations to host experiential content during their conference, creating an opportunity for more connection
    • Opportunity Collaboration offers “office hours” for entrepreneurs to connect with investors during their the week-long gathering and has fully embraced the unconference format
    • Catering to its Millennial crowd, Thought for Food Global Summit opens its second conference day with a morning Rave to energize the crowd and show that it’s ok to let loose and have fun while tackling critical issues
  2. Non-traditional Venues: The tradition of hosting conferences at a hotel (with corresponding hotel room blocks) has shiftedsoulless hotel conference rooms no longer entice participants to want to come back. Hotel conference rooms do little more than make people fall asleep. Participants are looking for venues that are engaging and memorable with plenty of space to connect with others. We have been seeing very different environments in which conferences are being hosted:
    • Legoland theme parks are no longer just for kids; they host conveners looking for a place to spark creative and innovative thinking
    • With its minimalist and modern architecture, the House of Sweden, home to the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C., provides a unique event setting integrating water and lots of natural light
    • Locales surrounded by nature, such as Play Big at Cavallo Point and Opportunity Collaboration at Club Med in Mexico, are also increasing in popularity 
  3. Fight for Relevance: Longevity is no longer enough to guarantee you a seat at the table. There’s an increasing number of impact-focused conferences, making the competition to be heard more challenging than ever. Participants are looking for something new—beyond the innovations brought about a few years ago, such as TED’s specific presentation format, the World Economic Forum’s ability to attract a certain caliber of leaders, and the Clinton Global Initiative’s advancement of commitments. More and more, Conveners are staying relevant by focusing on who they bring to the table:
  4. Shift in Sponsor Engagement: As many conference organizers can share, you can no longer take for granted that sponsors will pay again simply because they’ve sponsored your convening in the past; just like participants, sponsors are looking for a deeper level of engagement. We at Conveners.org are exploring and speaking with sponsors to see what they’re looking for, and we look forward to exploring this topic at greater depth in another post. For now, we see these trends on the horizon:
    • Sponsors are looking for increased brand value and awareness. They are concerned that sponsorship packages don’t always address how their sponsorship will achieve these two things for their organization. Conferences that can figure this out will reap the rewards.
    • There will be an inevitable shift from “pay to play,” where it’s assumed that you pay for stage presence time, to more effective ways to provide value to sponsors
  5. Growing Interest in Engaging in Impact: Another mega-trend we’re seeing is the rising interest in impact-focused convenings. SOCAP, for example, has witnessed a 50 percent growth in new participants year over year, and the Global Philanthropy Forum received enough interest and support about a specific region to spur the creation of the African Philanthropy Forum. This type of expansion indicates a new stream of investment, policy, and corporate professionals who are getting on the impact bandwagon. With this growth, the impact convening ecosystem has an important increasingly important role to play in helping new members of our community understand the historical narrative of impact convenings, as well as help shape the efficacy of their convenings.
  6. Desire (and Need) for Increased Diversity: During our Convening the Conveners co-hosted session at SOCAP16, we heard from a number of convening organizations about their desire to attract more diverse voices to their conference. This remains an issue that all conveners are trying to solve, and will certainly be evermore important this year.
  7. Localization: Another trend we’re tracking is the shift to super local events. SOCAP now offers SOCAP365 to engage its community 365 days a year, and now the Neighborhood Economics Conference, in partnership with SOCAP and BALLE, and SVN are organizing local gatherings to create more personal ways for their communities to stay connected throughout the year.

We hope these ideas and trends shape your convenings in 2017. We invite you to share your thoughts on convening trends by joining our conversation on Twitter: tweet us @theconveners and use the hashtag #2017conveningtrends.

Image Credit: Benjamin Horn via Flickr Creative Commons


Best Practice Series #4: Measuring the Impact of Your Convening

At Conveners.org, we know that when thoughtfully designed, conferences and related events can be transformational experiences that help attendees understand key challenges, encourage stakeholders to collaborate, and mobilize decision-makers to take action.  However, the great question many organizers face is, "How do we best measure the impact of our convenings?" Last month, we hosted a webinar with a group of diverse conveners to examine this very topic.   The conversation unearthed multiple best practices, as well key questions. 

Best Practice 1: Define the “why” behind your convening.

Measuring the impact of your convening first requires you to clearly define your event's objectives.  You should  ask yourself:

  • What are the primary goals of the event?;
  • In light of these goals, what does success look like?; and  
  • What kinds of return on investment are aligned with these objectives?

Attendees have diverse reasons for attending conferences and related events. It is critical that as an organizer you understand these motivations, and that your success indicators reflect them.  During the webinar, participants identified some of the impact indicators they find helpful to use.  They included:

  • Connecting social impact leaders with one another;
  • Disseminating knowledge;
  • Highlighting sector successes;
  • Increasing investment;
  • Networking; and
  • Promoting cross-sector collaboration.

Ultimately identifying the right indicators is an essential first step towards developing an effective impact measurement strategy.  

 

Best Practice # 2: Consider your desired impact's timeline 

Each desired impact has a different timeline for when they should be measured. For instance, creating new connections between individuals or organizations can be easily tracked during or immediately after an event.  However, realizing greater levels of resource investment or seeing increased cross-sector collaboration requires a longer term view.  True partnership building and resource sharing can require months or years to come to fruition. Ultimately, the timeline for your intended outcome should determine when you can begin to measure impact and what type of survey design is most appropriate to do so.  

When your impact timeline is short, a survey can be deployed during or immediately after the convening. One example shared previously by SVN, was placing brief paper surveys on attendees' chairs before a session and collecting them as people exited the room. Setting aside a minute at the end of the session, specifically to fill out the survey, greatly increased participation.

When your intended impact requires a longer timeline, longitudinal surveys can be useful. A survey where you ask the same questions every six to twelve months can reveal complex outcomes (particularly related to change that requires the participation of multiple stakeholders to be effectively realized.)  With a longer measurement horizon, it can be helpful to offer participants incentives to providing feedback.  Ideas might include raffling off a gift card or free conference registration for next year for those who complete a survey.  In addition, it can help to explain to convening participants how the reported data will be used to improve user experience in the future.  

 

Best Practice #3: Look beyond just the numbers

It is important to collect both qualitative and quantitative feedback in your survey. Qualitative questions can provide excellent anecdotes to complement data and provide greater context when reporting findings to attendees and stakeholders. Providing options and space for an open-ended comment (either after each question and/or at the end of a survey) provides space for people to tell their personal stories about the longer term impact they benefited from by participating in your event.

“We have a robust surveying system. In one of the questions we ask “If you have been to the forum before, what results have occurred as a result of your attending?”  We have 10 different options for them to check off and an open-ended comment. ... We got back three solid pages of single-spaced impact stories about how the forum has impacted them in the long run.”
- Jill Ultan, Skoll World Forum

 

Best Practice #4: Tools for measuring impact

Among our webinar participants, the most commonly used tool for online surveys was Survey Monkey. For advice on crafting a post-event survey, you can read our Acing the Feedback Survey best practice article.

For immediate feedback, digital tools such as SummitSync and RFID tag codes were mentioned as tools organizers use to both  track attendee participation at specific seminars, as well as to get targeted feedback. Onsite paper surveys are also an excellent low-tech option.  

Our webinar participants also highlighted that convening organizers can monitor social media for anecdotal reports.  Clearly established hashtags can help you do this.

Regardless of what type of tools conference designers reported using, the most successful techniques for measuring  impact were intentionally integrated into the convening's  planning process versus as an afterthought following the conclusion of an event.  

 

Challenge #1: Survey fatigue

We have all felt this before - either too many organizations have sent you a survey, or the survey takes 30 minutes to complete, and you get burned out.  Survey fatigue is real and unfortunately this negatively impacts conference survey response rates.  Our webinar participants struggled with how to overcome this challenge.  The best suggestion was to shift the dynamic from asking participants to take time out of their schedules later on to complete surveys, to instead making time onsite to collect feedback.     This communicates to participants that their feedback is so important, that you are taking time out of your schedule instead of theirs, to collect it.   This also increases both the quality and quantity of responses.

 

Challenge #2: Reliance on self reporting of collaborations and connections

“We are dependent on people self-reporting collaborations and connections they’ve made. The hardest thing is a way to gather that information in a reasonable manner. Self-reporting is extraordinarily flawed. There should be some tech fix or framing to improve that.”
- Mischa Delaney, B-Labs

We could not agree more.  Yet while self-reporting is deeply flawed, we have yet to see a great technical fix.   Unfortunately many newer technical solutions (like RFID Badges) are prone to their own challenges and additional costs.  Some conveners have considered web crawling (or spiders) which are automated bots that scan the web for key words and aggregate the data into a database. Unfortunately, for most event organizers, the technical sophistication of these solutions prohibits their adoption and effective use.  For now, surveys, and high-touch phone calls or conversations are the best methods we have for collecting data on the impact of our convenings.