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A clip from the 2023 Total Impact Summit

The Citizen Recommends: Total Impact Summit

The theme of ImpactPHL’s annual gathering of socially-conscious investors is “Modeling the Future Economy.” Learn what that means — and how Philly can benefit — on May 1 and 2

The Citizen Recommends: Total Impact Summit

The theme of ImpactPHL’s annual gathering of socially-conscious investors is “Modeling the Future Economy.” Learn what that means — and how Philly can benefit — on May 1 and 2

“If we want to fix our problems,” says Cory Donovan, executive director of ImpactPHL, “the two pocket model of government and nonprofits alone is not going to work. A for-profit investment model will do this all faster.”

The key, as Donovan and ImpactPHL have proselytized for the last eight years, is investing where it matters most — in your own city — with the deliberate intention to create a return that is not just financial, but also good for your community. It sounds simple enough; but understanding how to invest for good, where to find the opportunities and what value to place on social good can be daunting for someone new to impact investing.

That’s where Total Impact Summit comes in. The annual two-day conference hosted by ImpactPHL and SOCAP — this year on May 1 and 2 — brings to Philadelphia financial advisors, high-wealth individuals and others with access to capital to explore the world of investing for people, planet and profit. This year’s theme, “Modeling the Future Economy,” comes with an inherent challenge: How do you use your money in a way that reflects the world you want to live in?

Day 1 is a mix of panels about the state of impact investing today, where it seems to be headed — including a look at the opportunities and risks of AI — and ending with a conversation about what it takes to “radically transform wealth and move money toward solutions” with Priscilla Sims Brown, CEO/President of Amalgamated Bank, the first publicly-traded public benefit bank. (Sims Brown was a guest at The Citizen’s 2023 Ideas We Should Steal Festival.)

Day 2 is designed to be almost completely a how-to guide for impact investing, “making it as actionable as possible for the people who show up,” as Donovan puts it. That includes panels on how to invest in climate change solutions, racial and gender equity, and — most important to Donovan and Impact PHL — your local community, i.e. Philadelphia.

Both days will include opportunities for particular sectors — family offices or foundations, for example — to gather and learn from each other. “There’s a lot of collective knowledge in the community, both locally and nationally,” says Donovan. “We call it ‘community IQ’ and this is a chance to tap into who is here and connect the dots.”

Among the many speakers for the event:

    • Aniyia Williams, a principal at Omidyar Network and founder of Black and Brown Funders
    • Sean O’Sullivan, founder of SOSV, a venture capital firm with more than $1.5 billion invested in climate tech and other environmental startups
    • Wendell Pritchett, Penn law professor and former provost, who will share his personal journey to impact investing
    • Jessie Ai, head of investments for the Forman Family Foundation
    • Kate Williams, CEO of 1% for the Planet, started by Patagonia
    • Colleen Davis, Delaware Treasurer, an outspoken advocate using the state’s financial power to combat climate change
A crowd of people are seated at the 2023 Total Impact Summit.
The crowd at the 2023 Total Impact Summit.

Around 350 people attended last year’s event; this year, Donovan expects to sell out at 400, with a mix of investors, foundations, high wealth individuals, family offices and various others who work as advisors or consultants in the financial sector from around the country. This too, is an evolution from Total Impact’s first years, when the mission was primarily to educate financial advisors about what impact investing is. Now, Donovan says, the goal is convincing those with means to use their money for social good — as well as financial gain.

“If we go through the front door — the financial sector — nothing changes. If clients don’t ask for impact investing, then it doesn’t happen,” Donovan says. “So now we’re going through the back door, reaching directly to people so they know to ask for investments that match their values.”

Wednesday May 1 and Thursday May 2, $550-$1,400, Convene CityView, 30 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia. Register here.


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