Philanthropists and Social Investors Explore Strategies for Social Impact

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Oct 31, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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Philanthropists and Social Investors Explore Strategies for Social Impact

Four-day program at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria, provides participants with new insights and perspectives Participants of New Horizons in Social Investment – Global Exchange for Action and Impact pose for a group photo outside Schloss Leopoldskron

Philanthropists and social investors from all corners of the planet have left Salzburg with a renewed focus on talent management and its relationship with action, scale, and impact.

Thirty-nine participants from 19 countries were brought to Austria by Salzburg Global Seminar and the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) to facilitate relationship building, knowledge exchange, and idea generation.

During the four-day program - New Horizons in Social Investment: Global Exchange for Action and Impact - participants of different sectors, regions, and expertise worked together to explore talent management practices which could help increase their social impact globally.

In Salzburg Global’s historic home at Schloss Leopoldskron, participants were welcomed in conditions of trust and openness, which helped encourage the spread of ideas. The scene was set for participants on Saturday evening as they considered the new frontiers in philanthropy and social investment.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates it will take five to seven US trillion dollars to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, with an investment gap in developing countries of about two-and-a-half trillion US dollars. Social impact investment can help bridge this gap.

One of the ways organizations can make the world better is by thinking how they can work differently across organizational boundaries and become co-creators. Where do these organizations already align with others and how can assets be mobilized in different ways than before?

On the second day of the program, participants engaged with several panel discussions. In the morning, participants explored current and future trends in philanthropy and concrete ways in which to build engagement to increase the likelihood of achieving the SDGs by 2030.

This conversation moved forward during the next panel discussion where representatives from different organizations and regions shared their experiences – good and bad – of developing new approaches to philanthropy. Here participants learned about case studies in South America, China, and the Middle East. The day concluded with a conversation on managing talent for effective philanthropy and how best practices could help achieve specific social investing goals.

On Monday, participants learned new methods of collaborating, measuring impact, and managing risk beyond environmental, social and governance criteria. They took this information on board as they went on and examined two case studies, focusing on sustainability and climate change and improving access to education. Participants were asked to consider what specific collaborations and approaches had been effective and what practices to replicate.

In addition to panel discussions, participants took part in workshops, including one oriented around scaling impact and systems change. Participants learned how to create and align impact strategies to meet the SDGs.

Participants were encouraged to open up about their own experiences throughout the program. On Monday evening, a fireside chat took place in the Great Hall of Schloss Leopoldskron where participants asked themselves: how do we align organizational culture and systems for effective philanthropy and impact?

As the program concluded, participants were asked to reflect on how their experience in Salzburg had benefited them. They spoke of the value of hearing perspectives from different parts of the world, hearing from different generations, and hearing how their peers had also faced challenges and dealt with them. One participant said they had soaked up “1,000 years of experience.”

Andrew Ho, US development director at Salzburg Global, led the program. Ho said, “The program sparked candid and honest conversations about the role of innovation, collaboration, and talent management in increasing philanthropic impact within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. It demonstrated the power of learning from the experiences of participants from nineteen countries and six continents in the spirit of finding solutions together.”


The session New Horizons in Social Investment: Global Exchange for Action and Impact is part of Salzburg Global Seminar's multi-year series Philanthropy and Social Investment. This year’s session is held in partnership with the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, a network committed to building a vibrant and high impact social investment community across Asia. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGSphil on Twitter and Instagram.