A few people have asked me recently why we started San Diego Impact Investors (SDii). It seemed simple to me, but the more I thought about it I realized that the answer is complex. The “what” is simple: We are relaunching our effort as a cross-sector collaborative at San Diego Grantmakers, and I am excited about the support and vision for the future that partnership brings. We invite you to join us at two events in April. Come to the wine and cheese impact investor “get reacquainted” event this Thursday ( April 7) from 5:30 to 7:30pm if you want to hear more. It’s free of charge, but please RSVP online. We also hope you’ll join us for our first Deal Flow event—a showcase of viable, investable local deals on April 28th (register online). We welcome all investors and those interested.
The trickier question of “why” we started SDii has to do with local context.
There has been tremendous energy and discussion around using capital for good in the last few years. But almost every example we could cite was from elsewhere. While lessons apply, things are different in San Diego: the policy context, the nonprofit environment, burgeoning social enterprises and the appetite of investors. Not that these make us so different that we can’t import great ideas and apply them, however we do need to think about context and coordinate around how to best deploy impact investment strategies for the San Diego region.
While I have only been in San Diego a few years, I realized quickly that relationships matter. People work well together in San Diego and collaborate better than many places I have experienced. Government, business, nonprofits, advocates, and community members have all spent time building trust--and that is one of the most under-appreciated components of successful collaboration.. Focus on the overall solutions or broader community interest requires that we acknowledge our organizational and individual interests and search for ways to meet everyone’s needs through a transparent process. The trust that has been built here puts us at a distinct advantage when we have those conversations.
National entities and efforts are working in San Diego on issues critical to our community. We appreciate and welcome these resources and expertise. SDii and our members are working hard to provide local context, relationships and knowledge to ensure that these solutions stick.
Impact investing is a “newish” idea but it is a complement to the robust and established infrastructure that exists to solve community challenges. We need to learn from what exists and apply the financial tools of impact investing where they are needed and can work. Many types of capital invest in improving our community. Weaving these together, identifying holes that exist and trying to fill those is the real purpose of San Diego Impact Investors. If someone or some entity is doing a component, fantastic! We are not interested in duplicating efforts, we just want to ensure that the overall effort is coordinated enough to capture the resources that fill the holes in our ecosystem.
San Diego Impact Investors has articulated a “big hairy audacious goal” as my former mentor used to say. We want to bring $100 million new resources into San Diego in 10 years to solve some of our communities' most challenging problems. We are working to educate, create common language, attract resources and work within the existing community context. We would love your involvement, whether that is your knowledge, networks, resources or work.
Please join us on Thursday, April 7, or for Deal Flow April 28th. Sign up here.