At Toniic’s 2021 Annual Global Gathering, members were encouraged to seek new, non financial ways to invest in a better tomorrow
What will it take to solve our world’s biggest crises in health, democracy, equity, climate and more? The Toniic community is embracing full impact citizenship—the concept of devoting our whole selves, not just our money, to conquer these challenges—as a roadmap.
This was the theme of the 2021 Annual Global Gathering (AGG) hosted by Toniic, a global community of investors committed to putting capital to work for social and environmental good. This concept is at the heart of Toniic’s mission to catalyze deeper positive net impact by employing all our resources, not just our financial assets. But what does full impact citizenship look like in real life? And what do we as individuals have to offer beyond our money?
The answer differs for every person, but Toniic encourages members to think beyond their financial wealth and look to the impact they can achieve with their non-financial resources like their human capital, which includes how a person spends their time and who they spend it with, their social/relational capital they can activate to achieve bigger movements and political and reputational capital they can use to catalyze change. Money talks, but it isn’t the only thing that does. We each have the power to use these other forms of capital to advocate for change within and beyond our immediate circles.
AGG 2021: A “quantum leap” in openness and vulnerability
At the AGG, Toniic broadened its lens to focus on the role of the inner soul in imagining new ways of fixing or replacing broken systems. To achieve this, Toniic staff worked to build an environment of trust where members felt comfortable sharing deeply personal thoughts and feelings. Instead of inviting speakers to present their ideas to a large crowd, we created a sense of intimacy with small group discussions, moving away from a “talking at” structure to encouraging members to “talk with ” each other. The effectiveness of this method surprised even some of our most long standing members: one member told us the gathering represented a “quantum leap” in openness and vulnerability.
Feedback from Toniic’s AGG attendees was overwhelmingly positive. One member told us, “It was stunningly interesting and informative to participate at the 100% Gathering. I must add that I have never experienced such a supportive atmosphere at any of the conferences – this gathering is truly special.”
Another shared the same sentiment, intimating, “I think it’s because the Toniic team leads the way to encourage us to come into this with our whole selves. Personal stories, humour, struggle, vulnerability, trust… I’ve never been part of anything like it.”
Some newer members from our German community were particularly surprised by the depth of the discussions. One member shared when they entered a virtual breakout roomwith their standard business pitch ready to go, they kept it stowed for another day as their group started talking about family and more personal inner thoughts. While it’s not new in the region or Germany in particular to think beyond financial wealth,, especially given the decades-old cultural concept of German Mittelstand—family-owned businesses contributing a lot to the country’s wealth and social standards, however, newer members may not have been expecting this level of depth at an impact investing global gathering.
Wrestling with hard questions
In addition to being emotionally engaging, the conversations that took place wrestled with hard questions about resource allocation. One standout was an early session that prompted members to consider whether capitalism can be reformed as a fairer system and how we might reach this goal. We invited a corporate lawyer and a philosopher to guide the discussion, bringing two widely differing perspectives to the forefront.
The 100% gathering for members who have committed to investing all their wealth for impact is another example. Guided by poetry, the group engaged in a discussion about the concept of “enough.” This centered not only on the question of how much money a person needs to live, but also on the amount of time and energy members should reasonably spend working on growing the impact economy. Members challenged each other to find a balance between directly supporting underserved entrepreneurs or giving philanthropically and finding time to enjoy life.
In the past these kinds of open and vulnerable conversations had taken place at Toniic’s in-person gatherings. The Toniic team wasn’t sure if the same atmosphere and energy could be created at an international online event but found to our surprise that this format enhanced rather than detracted from the experience. Eliminating the need for travel made the event more inclusive, and we were able to serve all time zones by holding every session twice, which opened discussions to perspectives from members who often cannot travel to in-person gatherings across the globe.
Changing the world requires this kind of international exchange because many of the challenges we face are shared by our neighbors worldwide. Committing to full impact citizenship means finding solutions to global social issues.
As the impact investing community grows in Germany and investors become more aware of the ethical implications of their portfolios, we have much to share with and much to learn from our global community. Toniic will continue to develop frameworks for honest, open conversations about what it means to be a full impact citizen and the responsibility that each of us has to put our best self forward as we seek solutions to the global challenges that impact us all.