At Salon Dinner, Innovators Talk Future of Social Impact


At Deloitte's recent salon dinner, cross-sector leaders discussed future of social impact.

It began as an experiment: what bold ideas would emerge if Deloitte brought the Bay Area’s most innovative nonprofit leaders, startup CEOs, and corporate professionals together in a room?

The result was Impact 2030, a salon dinner hosted by Deloitte’s Social Impact Practice in San Francisco on Monday, May 23, 2016. Like the salons of centuries ago, Impact 2030 encouraged candid conversation, converged unusual perspectives, and sparked disruptive new thinking on our biggest challenges – and opportunities – ahead.

The group of 30+ Bay Area innovators discussed a shared vision for moving social impact from singular organizational efforts towards rich cross-sector collaboration. Throughout the evening guest speakers from the field provided their unique take on this trend.

One example came from Marcus Shingles, CEO of XPRIZE, who shared how his company is using technology to crowdsource social impact solutions from “citizen scientists” around the world. In another case Todd Wagner, digital entrepreneur-turned philanthropist, shared how he is channeling his technology background through The Charity Network to reach millions of new potential advocates and donors online. As technology blurs the boundaries between sector lines, digital innovators are finding new ways to connect with untapped actors for breakthrough impact.

You can literally gamify social impact right now. You can use a gamification strategy and prize incentive theory to make the process of solving for grand challenges into a competition," remarked Shingles.

While the idea of corporate partnerships may not be as new, conversation at the salon dinner revealed that the depth of these partnerships is certainly growing. Marc Spencer is CEO of Juma Ventures, a results-oriented nonprofit with a three-part model that includes employment, educational, and financial services. He explained how Juma has aligned incentives between for-profit companies looking for consistent employees and young people looking for meaningful work experience to create a launching pad to a career.

The unique thing is that we are providing these companies with a solution to a significant need that they have: they need consistent, reliable labor,” said Spencer.

Corporations are also looking internally to engage in social impact. Ryan Scott, CEO/Founder of the employee volunteer platform Causecast, discussed how corporations are evolving to meet the purpose-driven energy of today’s top talent, building social impact into their business models and engagement strategies.

All corporations have economic incentive to do good – if they’re not doing social good, they simply cannot hire and retain the top employees,” explained Scott.

As conversation at the Deloitte event progressed, it became clear that social impact is no longer reserved for a few select fields. Organizations across all sectors are seeing the strategic value of a mindset geared towards positive social progress.

Yet, coordinating action among diverse actors presents new challenges. The Impact 2030 salon dinner shows the opportunity for cross-sector organization like Deloitte to help stich these fields together: to bring together diverse groups, spark innovative conversation, and unite action where shared value emerges.