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

A special note from the authorIt was almost two years ago when I launched this blog, aimed at teaching small businesses (really any business for that matter) how to weave good into the every day.  And you know what?  I’m heartened to see businesses in my community and the world embrace what the pros call CSR as a part of their strategy.  But it’s still just a part, sometimes a piece left over to the side or thought about when time allows.

What’s my point?  It’s this.  We still have a huge, largely untapped opportunity to drive positive social change through the businesses we work in every day.  For this reason, I want to go back to the beginning for a while, revisiting the ideas I shared when I launched this blog.  I’m going to begin with a little data then will follow up with advice I think still stands true and firm today, advice about building a giving plan.  Although doing good has many faces, giving is at the heart.

I began this blog first andexplaining CSR  then getting to why it mattered today.  As a part of this, I talked about the sheer size of small business in America.  That’s where I’m going to pick this trip down memory lane, hoping a visit to this blog’s past helps further jumpstart things for the future.  Here we go…

When you look at where people work, in America alone, the vast majority of those in business take home their paychecks from small firms, defined by the US Small Business Administration as having less than 500 employees. That’s an estimated 70.2 million people (or 49% of the 2013 business workforce) at almost 6 million firms. When you add mid-sized businesses (with up to 5,000 employees), the number increases an additional 25 million to 95.4 million people, which is two-thirds of all those working in business in the United States today.

These numbers are staggering, as is the impact that these businesses make as they function within communities every day, in ecosystems where for-profit, nonprofit, individuals and government depend on each other. With more strategic advice about how to formalize the building blocks that are “about good,” these businesses – and the people in them – can have dramatic, positive impact.

Although small businesses employ half this major segment of the workforce, there’s no current way of gauging how many are formally adopting programs aimed at doing good. However, a March 2013 survey by Business4Better indicates that mid-sized companies are “recognizing the value of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a tool to drive true community engagement, increase employee loyalty and improve business performance.”

The survey, which was launched in advance of the first CSR conference designed specifically for mid-sized firms, tells us that companies are embracing this work to make impact in their communities, although only one third had what they deemed a “mature” program. According to the executive summary, “The remaining two-thirds do not have a CSR program, are just beginning to develop it or are seeking to improve an established program.”

Bottom line? There’s a lot of desire to do good. Companies want it. Employees want it. And if you’re reading this blog, you want it. That’s a wonderful start. So what we’re going to do now is dive into how to identify the seeds that have been planted in your own business and how to cultivate them into a flourishing program that enhances your culture, your company and your contribution to the world.

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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