The Impact Audio Podcast: Our Story

Last April, a couple dreamy-eyed marketers began plotting a way to bring the social impact community together. 

Last July, Submittable launched the Impact Audio podcast. 

We had a few main goals:

  • Gain and share insight from smart, interesting people
  • Build community through complex conversations 
  • Reimagine existing content for new audiences
  • Get VP of Social Impact Sam Caplan on the mic 

We also had no idea how to make a podcast. And so, with startup spirit and one million shared planning docs, a small crew got busy learning. 

Season 1 of Impact Audio wrapped up in December of 2021 with ten episodes. Our first conversation featured Satonya Fair, President and CEO of PEAK Grantmaking, and our final one was a discussion on the state of corporate purpose

Season 2 launched on February 1, 2022. Here’s what the journey’s looked like so far and where we’re headed next.

An inside scoop on the Impact Audio podcast

With any new project, you don’t know what you don’t know . . . until you do. Luckily, the first season of Impact Audio was supported by generous guests, enthusiastic helpers, and great listeners. There were a few key takeaways:

Social impact experts are generous

One of the operating principles behind Submittable is our belief that technology can be a force for good. And that good is all about people. 

The biggests rewards in this process (see process details below) were the connections we forged with incredible people and the insights they generously offered. THANK YOU to Satonya Fair, Louise Bleach, Mark Horoszowski, Luther Hughes, Lydia Boss, Shaady Salehi, Edgar Villanueva, Kari Aanestad, Chantal Forster, and John Mohr.

Many guests agreed to spend at least two hours with our team, planning and recording, snail-mailing mics, and taking silly Zoom screenshots. Some guests were previous webinar participants who had already spent a bunch of time with us and very kindly signed on for even more. 

It’s a true honor to talk with people driving change across the philanthropic sector. Because lasting social change only happens when dedicated individuals like the ones we’ve spoken with lead the charge.

Sam Caplan and Chantal Forster recording the Impact Audio podcast
Chantal Forster and Sam Caplan recording this episode.

And every single one of these experts shared incredible knowledge with our audience. Impact Audio has offered a unique and priceless opportunity for our team to build a community and a forum to wrestle with the big ideas, such as:

  • The future of giving
  • The impact of trust
  • Operationalizing DEI
  • Decolonizing wealth
  • Democratizing philanthropy
  • Effective corporate responsibility

But it wasn’t all heady and serious—we also got to chat about bee colonies, tie-dye, and punk music

Podcasts involve a lot of details

Oh my goodness. A few of us estimated the time it would take to make Impact Audio and let’s just say, we were pretty optimistic. Like all great labors of love, everything about a new podcast takes longer than expected. 

We did account for recording and mixing. Here are a few process details we forgot to budget for: scheduling, scripting, approvals, trailers, graphics, webpages, listening apps, subscriber emails . . . We also created three types of episodes: short excerpts from existing content (we did 4), short internal episodes focused on specific topics (2), and longer conversations with special guests (4). And each required a unique workflow.

Necessity being a mother, the podcast team learned fast and got much more organized. We also had help from many Submittable team members, including everyone working in marketing and many people in sales, support, development, product, HR, and even finance. These people were participants in a special episode with Edgar Villanueava—they also shared great feedback and told everyone about the new show. (Access a deep dive into Edgar’s incredible work here).

And so the podcast, in some sense, resembled social impact work itself, where details are what turn good ideas into meaningful content, where real impact takes a team to create, design, and champion everyone’s efforts.

Numbers don’t lie

Yeah, it would have been a little silly to launch a podcast about social impact that fails to measure its own impact. We learned a lot looking at our metrics in the first season of the Impact Audio podcast.

  • Time is precious. We’re so grateful that the Impact Audio podcast has received nearly 2,000 plays and 580+ hours of listening to date. And it’s no surprise that shorter episodes receive higher engagement rates (up 22%). This doesn’t mean we’ll stop making longer episodes, but we will make sure to have a healthy mix of options for everyone.
  • People love their listening apps. Data shows us that the majority of listeners are accessing Impact Audio on their favorite apps. Of our total hours listened to date, 80% of them were clocked on either Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. We get it—listening apps are convenient and fun. In the future, we’ll continue to make it as easy as possible to access Impact Audio everywhere.
  • New is novel. Not surprisingly, Impact Audio gets the highest traction in the first week after we launch a new episode. Take this conversation with John Mohr, Chief Information Officer at the MacArthur Foundation. Of all plays to date, 47% happened within one week of the release date. We don’t, however, believe episodes of Impact Audio degrade in value so quickly. We’ll be circling back to older episodes regularly in our promotions to remind folks about persistently important and relevant topics.
  • Actionable is awesome. We released two internal episodes as an experiment, featuring Submittable team members discussing important topics like impact measurement and the state of corporate purpose. The response was great—together these episodes received 18% percent of our totals listens to date. 
Listening data from the Impact Audio podcast
Helloooo listening apps!

While we can measure what we put out, Submittable can’t measure how Impact Audio’s listeners take these ideas and run with them. But our team sure hopes they do! 

Why you should tune in

Season 2 is up and running. You can get a flavor for the kinds of conversations Impact Audio features in the trailer below.

Here are the first two episodes of Season 2:

We’re already getting some great feedback.

LinkedIn Post about Impact Audio Podcast
Big thanks to Nicolette Lodico of the Ford Foundation for sharing the first episode of Season 2.

And we’ve got more incredible guests lined up. You’ll be hearing from:

Plus a few more!

Subscribe now for episode updates and exclusive content. We can’t wait to share the next chapter of this journey with you. 

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a Special Projects Editor at Submittable. She also writes and teaches poetry. Connect with her on LinkedIn.