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Everybody Wins Where Money Meets Meaning: the Social Capital Movement

Everybody Wins Where Money Meets Meaning: the Social Capital Movement

It’s the root of all evil, and essential to modern life.  It’s a problem solver and a problem creator. It’s money.

For centuries, our system has kept a separation between money used for business and money used to support good causes. The divide between business and philanthropy was clear: business’ goal was highest financial return in the shortest time possible; philanthropies worked to make gifts to better society.  Business was all about numbers and metrics; charity was for giving money away and hoping for results.

In recent years that has changed, as more businesses and investors are looking at the long-term effect of their investments, seeking a return beyond the financial. At the same time, charities are becoming more selective about how their grants are spent and how results are measured.  The social capital movement was born, and is picking up steam.

This September 1-3, more than 600 people investors, funders and entrepreneurs will gather in San Francisco to discuss the social capital market.  Billed as the “intersection of money and meaning”, SoCap09 attendees will discuss how to measure social return, such as improved health, environmental damage averted, or opportunities provided in a way that helps investors and grantors make intelligent decisions around building a new economic foundation for the world..  Just as “regular” investors look at balance sheets and price/equity ratios to determine where to put their money for maximum return, a growing number of investors and funders are looking at ways to calculate long-term return on investments in poverty alleviation or environmental responsibility.  The new tools of social networking play a particularly large role in advancing investment for social good.

Partering to maximize social return has gone mainstream. The keynote speaker at SoCap09 is the director of the White House’s brand new Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.  Sonal Shah will speak about the Office’s goals of identifying innovative programs that are successfully tackling social problems, and assisting in scaling them across the U.S.

In addition to participation from the White House, SOCAP09 brings together a global sampling of traditional investors, impact investors, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, new media, NGO’s and non-profits, wealth managers, development agencies, venture capitalists, MBA students and other groups interested in the growing opportunities of social capital.

Despite the challenges of financial meltdown, unrest and environmental degradation, we live in exciting times of change and opportunity.  Even business is changing. As Care2′s CEO Randy Paynter says, “I strongly believe that business needs to be a driving force for good if we’re to get the world out of the mess we’re in.”   SoCap and the social capital movement are signals of that much-needed change.

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Photo: Tracy O. via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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2:48PM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

anybody with a Schwab trading account can save the world by buying green energy stocks and the like. too bad planet organic health corporation failed.

2:32PM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

That sounds like fun!

9:55AM PDT on Sep 1, 2009

Correction: The correct term is: The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil.

11:26PM PDT on Aug 31, 2009


The greatest majority of man-womankind do care. So why don't we have more impact?

7:12AM PDT on Aug 27, 2009

The money we use today is only some symbols printed on paper. Even I can do that and it would have as much value as the money you have in your pockets now. The Federal Resurve is and has been the root of evil. We used to base wealth by how much Gold,Silver,and other presious metals we obtain in return for work and trades. But it could not be obtained without some kind of work, and then a new system was thought out, that would only be of value to The Federal Resurve and the elite. We are about to accept a new system the New World Order, and this system is the perfect system that will be able to control the whole world and it's wealth. And to top it off will be our shackle of control. We will not be able to buy, sell, or trade without being part of this conspiracy. If we buy into this system, we will sign our children and grandchildren up for slave camps, because they have been forcing the governments to borrow ,borrow, borrow against our Nations. If we continue this insane nonsence this is what will happen. I am giving out this warning to all the people who are concerned. Don't let these maniacks force you into bondage. This will be the last time we will have a chance to stop them before the takeover of the people. This system is the next step in slavery.

6:25AM PDT on Aug 27, 2009

What the people are neglecting to see are the secret plans of the superwealthy, the billionaires. This is not just some conspiracy story that you have heard before. This is the truth. I research deep into the workings of system we have become to know and feel safe. You see paper money is only worth what the Federal Resurve says it is. All the wealth in this world belongs to them. And we were duped into this system for the main purpose to control us when the time comes to finish their plan to bankrupt us. The plan is to get all your wealth into the system where they can control it, then bankrupt the present system, put everyone in camps at reopened military bases at the order of FEMA in an emergency declaration, bring in the New World Order and force global money on everyone, so they have to be part of be world system that can control everyone in the world.

3:35AM PDT on Aug 27, 2009

money is not evil. Never! Please those who are threatened by money, send them to me for the poor children of my school. thanks in advance.

2:25PM PDT on Aug 26, 2009

I'm looking at them, but not seeing any specific examples there. Corporations have always played a philanthropic role, but I don't see anything in their business practices that are any different.

2:01PM PDT on Aug 26, 2009

Jeffrey - look at Walmart, Target, Nike, HP, Starbucks, Home Depot, Clorox, etc... all of them have taken significant steps to serve the public/world beyond what was traditionally seen as a corporation's role. They've all found ways to make money, and "do the right thing" at the same time - which has helped them make even more money/win customer loyalty.

I think the combination of the Internet and consumer awareness of CSR potential has had tremendous influence on these companies. They realize they can't do business the old way and keep their brands shiny or their customers happy. They'll get punished in the marketplace if they don't embrace these principles. That happened, to a great degree, because entrepreneurial companies pioneered the way, showed consumers and businesses what was possible, and changed expectations/what's considered good corporate citizenship.

1:36PM PDT on Aug 26, 2009

"and at the same time it's clear the pioneering firms are influencing / forcing change upon the large mainstream corporations (particularly those that are consumer-facing)."

Could you give us some examples, because it really doesn't seem so clear to me that this is anything more than words.

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