The State Department to Host SoCap Conference

This is rather amazing.

In a speech on Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that next year the State Department will be hosting a Social Capital Markets (SoCap) conference.

Clinton was speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California, where I recently spoke about the Social Capital Markets conference with the organizers (I curated the philanthropy track at SoCap, but am not an organizer of the event). In the midst of an speech that touched on the Iranian nuclear program, the use of technology to expand democracy, and relations with China, Clinton said:

“I also urge you to become involved with the social entrepreneurship movement, which is proving every day that there is money to be made through socially responsible investments. Putting financial and social capital to work is one of our goals. And next year we will host a conference for social entrepreneurs and investors in Washington, called SoCap — s-o-c-a-p — @State.”

I’ve checked with SoCap organizer Kevin Jones and the deal is official. Along with a SoCap conference in Europe next year, Kevin and his team will work with the State Department to produce SoCap@State.

It will be interesting to see what role the Office of Social Innovation, whose director Sonal Shah was a keynote speaker at last year’s SoCap, plays at the event.

It will also be interesting to see how the Social Innovation Fund might leverage the gathering. Senior officials at the Fund have told me that they are very interested in supporting a “secondary market” for applicants to the Fund. The vision is that other funders may well be interested in supporting both finalists and non-finalists. The Fund’s director told me in an interview, "How we leverage this universe of applicants is a key question because they are a real asset… The goal of the Fund is not just to fund great organizations. What this is really all about is changing how capital is allocated in the philanthropic sector.” It seems to me that SoCap@State would be the perfect venue for the Fund to push this broader agenda.

SoCap bills itself as the “intersection of money and meaning”. This year was the first time that SoCap explicitly recognized the role of philanthropic capital within the social capital markets. It appears that next year, SoCap@State will bring government funding to the table as well. The intersections sure are intriguing.


  1. Wow. *Great* news. Government funding and hopefully policy makers, too. Very exciting stuff for the multi-disciplinarians in the crowd 🙂

  2. Geri Stengel says:

    As a reviewer for SIF and a blogger finalist in the SoCap competition, I have noted the similarities in the goals of the two conferences, and welcome the collaboration.

    Bringing together philanthropy, government, and private investment has great potential but is fraught with potential problems. Transparency, administration, investor expectations and power structures will have to be completely redesigned. That’s going to require changing a lot of mindsets. A formidable task but one which just might be able to do the social good required. Count me in!

    • I agree that bringing all the various capital providers together is tough. I don’t think that the solution will be some sort of planned collaboration as much as from each capital provider simply understanding the others and seeking them out when the opportunity warrants it.

  3. Will be interesting to see how State Dept incorporates their international resources into this. A lot of conferences miss the global picture, but with State behind this, perhaps a stronger presence will be felt?