A Reflection on the Future of Social Impact

By Fernande Legros, Full Circle Fund Program Officer

It’s hard to believe it is already November, largely because it has been 100 days since I embarked on my role as a Program Officer at Full Circle Fund. In that short amount of time, many of the conversations I have had with Members, Partners, and Supporters have often centered on the “why” behind our work. At the heart of that question - I would venture to say - lies a real desire to better define and communicate the impact of the cross-sector collaboration and capacity-building focus that undergird our partnerships — or in other words, to turn our anecdotes into metrics we can measure.

To explore that question, we decided to attend SOCAP16 in September, and traveled to LA for the Social Venture Partners Conference just a few weeks ago. Interestingly, despite the diversity among attending organizations, building inclusive and thriving communities seemed to be the buzz in all conversations. At SOCAP, many of the sessions dealt with access to capital and cultivating diverse talent as a way to address the social challenges many cities face. There was a lot of dialogue about how data can be used to measure social good, and while there was no definitive or universal answer as to what “impact” means, the commitment to continue grappling with that question is reassuring.

At the Social Venture Partners (SVP) Global Conference, the conversation often veered to building high-performing organizations with the capacity to actually solve our society’s most trenchant issues. Some of my favorite sessions centered around developing a theory of change, building strong teams, and bringing a social justice and equity lens to philanthropy. I was really inspired by the willingness for sharing knowledge, insights, and tools among the different affiliate organizations in the SVP network , and as we move toward a set definition of “impact,” that is exactly the sort of exchange we need. Overall, while the language and audience might have differed, bringing people together at the grassroots level to dream up a better world seemed the be underlying theme at both conferences.

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