09/11/2013 08:57 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2013

SOCAP 2013 - Who Should Be in the Room?

Unless you are hiding under a rock or a cover of denial, you know Americans (and the globe) are facing huge challenges in our lifetime - global warming, rampant unemployment, escalating healthcare costs, collapse of financial systems, and so forth. SOCAP - a conference dedicated to increasing resources to social good - wants to face these challenges straight on. With representatives from government, academia, NGOs and industry, panels ranging from health to community to investing discuss these problems at hand. The intention of the conference is best stated by Sam Duncan of Leapfrog Investments during the opening plenary, "We are at a critical time where we must prove that money and meaning, or profit and purpose, go hand in hand." It is critical and timely - all attendees would agree and are passionately trying to change the world for a better. From big corporations to small non-profits, all want to pursue meaning with their profession. But something was missing - as another opening plenary member remarked - "think about who is not yet here." Answer - most of the folks found at the typical tech and business events. Why not? They should be. The solutions for problems as complex as those presented at SOCAP have stakeholders across multiple disciplines. For questions on water safety, yes fisherman and fisheries have a stake. So do manufacturing companies located along those waterways. For healthy eating, Unilever should be alongside the California Endowment for healthy communities. What emerged, though never directly stated, is the need for visionary leaders who can connect these disparate organizations with a clear vision and a structure to meet the desired triple bottom lines. There is plenty of passion, energy and conviction in this community. But the need for entrepreneurial thinking - to break down walls and deeply held convictions down - is now been needed more than ever. SOCAP asks us - the 1800+ attendees - to change the status quo to put resources where good can be created. "The power of the ask is a really big deal - from investment to volunteering," said Jean Case from the Case Foundation. We need to ask two things:
  • How can we get clear and specific on where we need to go, so that we can take action?
  • Who do we need to bring into this conversation, to find optimal solutions for us all?
SOCAP can start the conversation. But what will make it impactful is carrying it forward into our diverse communities to have the ideas grow into ventures.