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My Wish List for SoCap 2011

By Nell Edgington

Despite my frustration in an earlier post about this year’s Social Capital Markets Conference inability to fully integrate philanthropic and government capital into the discussion, I was reminded by a friend that we have actually come a long way in three short years. A keynoter at the first SoCap conference in 2008 noted that “we aren’t here to talk about nonprofits.” The fact is that just two years later not only were nonprofits and their philanthropic and government funders present in large numbers at the conference, but they had their own track. It was a huge step forward to have a devoted track focusing on the philanthropic capital market with Sean Stannard-Stockton at its head this year. The track brought some great work to light and started some important conversations.

In the spirit of continuing and expanding that conversation, here are the conversations/sessions I’d like to see at SoCap 2011:

  • More case studies like the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland and the Evergreen Lodge in Yosemite (not related) that demonstrate innovative collaborations of capital across the philanthropic, government and private sectors
  • A working session that looks to compare/combine the nonprofit rating systems and GIIRS (Global Impact Investing Rating System)
  • Case studies of nonprofits who have crafted a growth or capacity capital campaign to unlock philanthropic capital for scale and change
  • A discussion about venture philanthropy. New Profit, Venture Philanthropy Partners and others pioneered the nonprofit capital space. Where are they now, what have they learned, and what are they doing to revamp the venture philanthropy model?
  • An update on the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), what they’ve learned, what the government’s plans are to revamp and scale it.
  • Beyond SIF, examples of what local, state and federal governments are doing to partner with philanthropists to expand capital for social entrepreneurs. Council of Foundation’s Public/Philanthropic Partnership is a place to start.
  • Stacked deals involving philanthropic and private capital are very tricky to create, as Julie Sunderland and others have argued, but what can we do or develop to make this less difficult? What sorts of terms are people playing around with? What’s working and what isn’t and how can we evolve this?
  • Donor-Advised Funds hold tremendous opportunity to unlock philanthropic capital, but are underused currently. What can we do to unlock that potential?
  • Where do community foundations fit into all of this? Often the nexus of a city’s philanthropic activity, they have been slow to climb aboard the social capital market train.  How can we unlock this potential capital for social impact?
  • Discussions about how we educate philanthropists about the need for capacity and growth capital in the nonprofit world. How do we make more philanthropists builders instead of buyers?
  • How do we get more foundations to use Program Related Investments and Mission Related Investments?

SoCap10 did a great job of starting the conversation, now I’d like to see that conversation move to the tactical. Let’s create new structures, incentives, partnerships, tools to unlock philanthropic and government capital for social impact.

What do you want to see at SoCap11? Add to the list in the comments.

Photo Credit: paratiger

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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (, a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.

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6 Comments to My Wish List for SoCap 2011

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by changefeed, Kevindoylejones, Nell Edgington, Laura Tomasko, and others. said: RT @nedgington: #SoCap10 did good job of beginning to integrate #nonprofits into convo, here's wishlist for #SoCap11: […]

Victoria Vrana
October 12, 2010

Thanks for being interested in VPP presenting at SOCAP 11, Nell. We would be interested too!

To your fantastic list, I would also add a session that compares and contrasts impact investing (investing with a double or triple bottom line return expected) with philanthropic investing (investing with only social return expected). As much as SOCAP focuses on the former, I find VPP has so much more in common with impact investors than with many “traditional” foundations: the size of the deals; the partnership relationship; the due diligence/selection process; the emphasis on performance, results and measurement; the need to raise capital, the concerns about deal flow, and on and on. I am only envious that the impact investing side of the house has so many more players (per your point about making more philanthropists builders instead of buyers). That’s a session I’d love to see!

And I have to say one of my favorite SOCAP 10 sessions was the one where DC Central Kitchen agreed to be analyzed by 3 different nonprofit rating approaches. Very brave!

Nell Edgington
October 12, 2010

Thanks Victoria. Great idea for a session. I agree with you that venture philanthropy has more in common with impact investing than traditional grantmaking. I’d love to see you all have a bigger presence at SoCap11. I liked the DC Central Kitchen session as well and would love to see something like that again next year, but with an added spin of including GIIRS (the impact investing measurement tool) as one of the comparative tools. There is so much potential to connect the two worlds (philanthropy and impact investing) and that is yet another area of collaboration/comparison.

[…] My Wish List for SoCap 2011 | Social Velocity Nell Edgington offers her wish list for what she would like to see at SoCap 2011. Great suggestions! (tags: philanthropy) SHARE THIS POST    Share Tweet ← Previous post […]

Mike Kennedy
April 27, 2011

I saw that you included a hope for more case studies at SOCAP11, so I’d like to talk with you about the possibility of Maryland Energy & Sustainability Co-op providing one.

Nell Edgington
April 27, 2011


Interesting, I’d love to learn more. But I don’t actually get to set the schedule for SoCap. So you probably want to talk to Kevin Jones (@kevindoylejones on Twitter) who leads SoCap. He could get you a session at the conference for sure.

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