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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

Giving money away is hard.

From the outside, it seems like a joy.  When corporate philanthropy professionals like me meet people and they figure out that I “give the company’s money away,” they’re delighted.  “What a great job,” they say.  And it is.  Working alongside of nonprofits every day, figuring out how we can align the company’s resources with their needs, is a joy.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  The key word is “align.”  Matching resources and needs takes time, effort and a lot of thought.  Before you can even attempt to do this effectively, you have to know whatyou can give, why you’re giving and how.  You need to be thoughtful, carefully considering the approach your company should take or how, like many, you can “get more strategic” about your giving after a few years of going on impulse as requests come in the door.

There’s no right answer to these questions because each business is different – your brands, locations, employees, products.  So the expression of how each organization decides to give back will vary, sometimes dramatically.  Taken to its fullest potential, a company’s giving can be a part of its brand personality.  It can live right at the core, in the firm’s values.  That doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s ok.  In the end, the way you decide to approach philanthropy should fit with who you are.  That means you should take the time to think about it. 

Over the next several weeks, we’ll explore this topic in a blog series offering a step-by-step approach and tips to help you build a plan.  This series will help you think about what you give today, what you’d like to give tomorrow, what cause or area you’d like to embrace, and HOW to establish a process or function that lasts as you grow.  We have a HUGE opportunity to do good in this world, but it does take some planning.  So get moving on that plan.

In the meantime, if you have specific questions about philanthropic giving for your small-to-mid-sized business, contact me at BusinessDoingGood@blackbaud.com so I can incorporate your questions into the series.

Rachel Hutchisson (@RachelHutchssn) is VP, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy at Blackbaud, Inc., a 2,700-person technology company that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations. She built the company’s “give back” function from the ground up, relying on expertise she gained in over two decades of working at the intersection of the business world and the nonprofit sector. Rachel is a member of the #GivingTuesday core advisory team, leads her company’s involvement in the Billion+Change pro-bono initiative, and serves on the boards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals International, The Giving Institute, and the Coastal Community Foundation. She is also a member of the core team that launched TEDxCharleston in 2013. She is a graduate of Dickinson College and received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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