Thoughts on Confluence Philanthropy
by Nicolette Beck, Philanthropic Advisor
Ella and I went to Confluence Philanthropy!
Every year, Confluence Philanthropy holds a conference about philanthropy and impact investing. The idea is to gather like-minded people to strategize about ways to move money and make the strongest impact, and the stated goal is social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. This year Ella and I flew down to LA and then drove to Santa Monica to check it out.
I didn't know what to expect. From the title alone, I thought it was all about charity— consisting of wealthy philanthropists and executive directors courting each other. In fact, it was nothing of the sort. It had more emphasis on impact investing over charity and was populated with advisors and managers rather than the philanthropists themselves. And according the Confluence website, more than $92 billion was represented at the conference!
In this present, extremely challenging moment in history, it was nice to see and experience a gathering of people who were dedicated to creating a better world. Everyone at the conference was doing their part to move money into projects that are strengthening justice and saving the planet. It was a wonderful thing to see.
I got very excited when I looked the through agenda. There were speakers from sustainable investing superstars like As You Sow, Aperio Group, Calvert, Engine1, Rockefeller Oceans Fund, and more. The speakers and attendees were diverse, intelligent, interesting, and inspiring. We heard from Black CEOs and community leaders, as well as representatives from several Native American tribes.
One problem that continuously plagues the social justice and impact investing spaces is infighting and division. The task we’re undertaking is huge, monumental even, and sometimes it’s hard to see all the ways in which our various areas of interest overlaps. For example, while moving to solar and renewable energy is exciting, there are social implications to consider like racism, oppression, and forced labor. Sometimes environmental solutions seem to clash with human interests, and sadly, the solution isn’t immediately obvious. We can and should always support the most ethical companies in any industry, but we can’t reject something like renewable energy outright either.
That’s why events like Confluence are so great. They bring together groups concerned and vigilant activists—with $92 billion represented—to find solutions to the problems plaguing the social justice movement. Through gatherings like Confluence Philanthropy, we can come together to figure out clarity of visions and a commitment to common goals. We can get on the same page and commit to environmentalism and social justice while also understanding that while we can’t fully create the world we all hope for, we can make a bigger difference together.