Rachel Hutchisson
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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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A guest post by Jamie Serino, a Blackbaud colleague

Last year, when I first walked into my company as a new employee, I did so knowing that joining the organization meant making a commitment to service.  And I was totally ok with that.  In fact, it’s one of the reasons I’m here.  Giving back is a part of our DNA.

But knowing that I wanted to serve and actually serving are two different things.  That’s why I’m so glad I took the opportunity to join my colleagues in the New York office to volunteer with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), a great nonprofit that also happens to be a customer (that’s the other thing that attracted me to the company – we provide technology solutions that power philanthropy for nonprofits, foundations and corporations, which is very cool). 

BCRF is committed to being the end of breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research. We helped them prepare for their Hot Pink Party, which takes place on April 12 and is their largest fundraising event of the year.  Always a star-studded affair, this year’s event is hosted by Elizabeth Hurley, honors philanthropist Melinda Blinken and features a performance by Sir Elton John.  They raised a record-breaking $7M at last year’s event.

We used our own technology (called AngelPoints but internally branded as the Blackbaud Cares Center) to mobilize people to volunteer with BCRF. We posted the opportunity on our Volunteering page, sent an email to our colleagues to encourage sign ups, managed the event information and volunteer roster, and did post-event follow-up all through the platform.  I also personally used the solution’s new mobile app to see things like how much time I volunteered; how I compare to the company average and to the company’s volunteer rock stars (I need to step up my game!); and also how much money I’ve donated and how much of it Blackbaud matched.

I didn’t know that something like this existed before working here, and now that I’m using it, I can’t imagine not having it for both organizing volunteer efforts with fellow employees and for managing my own giving and volunteering.

The volunteering event was very straightforward.  It was an assembly line of 200 people packing items to create 1,300 gift bags for the Hot Pink Party supporters and attendees.  I’ve been part of and volunteered for these sorts of things in the past and what struck me about this one was 1) how efficiently it was run, and 2) how many volunteers there were! Apparently, this year was the quickest they assembled so many bags.

While there, I had the opportunity to meet Mary Greene, Manager, Development and Events for BCRF.  I followed up with Mary after the event to learn more, such as:

  • They were able to get so many volunteers for this not-so-exciting task because they have a database of past volunteers, BCRF friends and supporters. Mary said that they built this database by asking team members to reach out to friends and family members who might like to volunteer and then building a network from there.  We weren’t the only team of people from a company. Like ours, many corporate groups were there because one person corralled a bunch of their co-workers, so when it comes to reaching out to grow a volunteer base, it’s a reminder to find that connector! This is also informative for corporations running CSR and employee engagement programs – find those nonprofit organizations in your community and raise your hand.  They’re looking for you.  And ask your own employees which community organizations they are connected to, as that’s a great way to engage your employees in ways that are really meaningful to them.
  • BCRF specifically tracks how much money their events raise (vs. their other efforts) and then how the money is spent.  For example, last year, BCRF hosted events in New York City, the Hamptons/Long Island, Westchester, Boston and Palm Beach. This raised more than $14.7 million which funded 59 cancer researchers. Way to measure and tell a story!
  •  BCRF’s corporate partners contribute 50% of their revenue through employee engagement and engaging communities across the country.  I think this shows CSR professionals and those that participate and contribute to CSR programs that you’re having quite an impact!  And again, a reminder for nonprofits to get connected with corporations; and for corporations looking to build or run CSR and employee engagement programs to look in your communities and raise your hands.  You are each looking for each other.

Bottom line?  You can each help each other meet your goals.

Volunteering with BCRF was a great experience, a win-win scenario for nonprofits and corporations running CSR programs. It was rewarding to be able to help such a wonderful organization, but it also provided us the opportunity to spend time and bond with fellow colleagues with whom we don’t usually get to connect every day.  Coming together around a common cause helped grow relationships within our own organization, and it helped create more connections with BCRF, which already seem to be paying off – several in the group have already signed up for more volunteer opportunities with them!

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

As you consider your focus for giving, you should also consider which financial vehicle you would like to use to handle the actual dollars.  Over time, it’s not unusual for companies to have a mixed portfolio, looking to different options to support different programs.

But lets begin at the beginning…

Every company should have a corporate philanthropy budget managed by the person most knowledgeable about how and why you give.  In the early stages, it’s likely that this person might not be called a CSR (corporate social responsibility) professional.  What matters is that the company’s “give back” function resides with the person in the role; someone who can track what is given to what organizations.  This pool is funded annually as a part of the company’s budgeting process.  Keeping all contributions tied to this budget is helpful both to see what you are giving and to provide information to receive tax relief for your donations.

The budget may contain several categories, including donations given because of history, support for organizations where executives serve on the board, funding for a local grant program, and money to support employee-led initiatives.  These categories will change over time as your program matures, but using them helps you better understand how you are giving and how to tell the stories behind your giving.

How much money you allot for giving is up to the leadership of your firm.  Some companies strive to give away a percent of pre-tax profit, while others use a dollars-per-employee formula.  More often than not, the budget evolves, first through discovery of how much you are giving already (as discussed earlier in the series) and then as you decide to take on new projects or donations.  It is not unusual for the strategic argument behind how much to give, in total, to build over time.  If the CEO gave you $1 million today to give away, it might end up being more of a burden than a help if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to handle the work and the thoughtful deliberation.

As you do add line-items to the budget, make sure you keep good notes about why you are adding each investment.  What category should the donation be in (history, employee initiative, etc.).  The better records you keep from the very beginning, the better off you’ll be as new people are brought into the giving process.

Next time we’ll touch on two other important financial vehicles that may be right for you as your business grows — establishing a fund at a third-party foundation (like a community foundation) and establishing you own foundation (which is a lot more involved).

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

Last month, we began to look at deciding what to give to – what your focus should be.  This is actually a lot tougher to determine than you might think.  How do you choose? 

In the last post, I outlined a number of ways to look at the question.  You can align your focus by products and services you offer, by your brand, because of your location or even your history.  But wait!  There’s more.  Before you make a decision, consider three more areas:

  • Your CEO or Leadership – This is a touchy but important one.  What does the founder, owner or CEO care about?  If you’re one of these people and you’re driving the change, then you’re ahead of the game (…and I’d encourage you to think about the point below, on employees).  If you aren’t, and you’re seeking buy in from those who made the giving decisions before, make sure you carefully inquire about what they think and if there are any areas of giving that are important to preserve.  You may have already hit on this in the history discussion as the two are often intertwined.
  • Employees – Who are your employees?  What are they like?  What do they care about?  What do they like?  Are they unique in any specific way?  Taking a look at the demographics, interests and experiences of your employees is important because it provides a perspective you might not have considered.  This doesn’t mean you’re asking your employees to tell you what to give to.  It means you’re looking at who they are and what they care about so that, which might lead you to considering certain kinds of nonprofits that otherwise might not make it into the discussion.
  • What you won’t give to – It might be obvious, but any discussion about what to support should include conversation about what NOT to support.  Are there certain types of nonprofits that aren’t in line with what you do or what you believe?  Does the company have policies against aligning its brand with political candidates, for example, or religious activity?  Or do you prefer not to give to multi-year campaigns or not to give products away?  All of this is important to know.

 Now, take a moment to jot down what you’ve figured out, using a chart like this: 

Category Nonprofits/Causes (ideas)
Products or Services  
Brand  
Location  
History  
CEO  
Employees  
What you won’t give to  

 

This exercise will leave you with a lot of ideas and different potential directions to take.  It won’t answer your question immediately, but it will help to narrow or orient the discussion.  With this information, you can better step through the options, considering which one is the right one for your business.  If possible, involve line employee as well as leadership in this process to help encourage buy in for the choice you make.  After all, you will want the team to embrace the decision and help champion the focus on behalf of your company, your brand.  You want them to be proud. 

Two final notes on selecting a giving focus.  First, you don’t have to be 100% absolute, never straying from your focus.  You can decide “what you give to as a business” in a public way and still privately support other organizations that are meaningful to you (like those you uncovered in the history of CEO discussion).  Corporate giving budgets usually contain a mix of programs that made it there for different reasons.  You may give to certain nonprofits because of history and others because you have an executive serving on the board.  The publicly stated giving focus should both convey a strong story about your support of the cause and should help the groups asking you for money to focus their requests.

Second, when you ultimately decide on your giving focus, be open that it is something you will revisit over time.  Although it is not a decision to rethink every year, it is appropriate to stop, at key points in a company’s growth and after key events, to reevaluate.  For example, your business outgrows its current building and moves across town to a new location, in a neighborhood with different needs.  What moves to the “history” category, and what’s new about how you want to give?  Maybe you merge with another company that has a different giving focus.  Which one do you keep or do you come up with a new approach altogether that fits who you will be in the future?  These are but two examples of why there can and should be room to change.

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

When I said that giving money away is hard, I meant that it’s hard to choose how best to invest your dollars.  Which nonprofit is the best one to support?  How do you pick one over the other?  Is cancer more important than homelessness, child abuse a higher priority than infant mortality? 

These questions are impossible to answer and vary dramatically person by person.  But as a business, you have some pre-determined factors in place that can help you decide on an approach.  This post is designed to step you through that process.

How To: Determining your giving focus

Work through the list below, carefully considering each category before making any decisions about what you might support.  Give yourself time to think through the options.  Although you can and should update your focus over time – as the business evolves and changes – deciding your giving focus is not something you do every year.  You will likely live with the focus for many years, so you want to make sure it fits.

  • Products and Services – What products or services do you offer?  Is there a logical connection between what you sell and a specific kind of nonprofit in the community?  For example, a landscaping company and a nonprofit that teaches city kids gardening; a  contractor or a hardware store and housing for the homeless; an eye surgery center and an association for the blind… Looking at the obvious connection between your products or services and community need is a logical first step.  But what if what you do as a business doesn’t align so nicely with a type of nonprofit?  For example, what if you do web design?  Although there could be nonprofits that teach kids this skill, you could also take the approach of saying “we’re going to give to nonprofits that have marketing needs like those we fulfill as a business.”  This is a less conventional but extremely important way to think about giving because chances are, there aren’t as many donors out there looking to support this kind of need – funding for web development so the nonprofit can tell its story.  Be creative.  There is no one answer.
  • Brand – Similar to the products and services suggestion above, think about what your brand stands for and whether that leads you to any logical intersections with nonprofits.  This approach is admittedly a bit fuzzier, not so black and white.  If your company’s brand stands for innovation or creativity, then perhaps your giving programs are designed to support those same qualities.
  • Location – Where is your company located within your community?  Are you in an office park, an industrial zone, the rural outskirts, the middle of the city, or perhaps a place where people both live and work?  Are there specific needs in the neighborhood, problems that you want to help fix?  Are there residents close by with specific needs?  Answering these questions will help you come up with options for how to give – perhaps to a local community center, a program for people who speak English as a second language, to help preserve woodlands or maybe to encourage environmentally friendly transportation options.  Again, there is no right answer.  These are just clues to help you decide.
  • History – Businesses grow up in communities, rarely on their own.  They have connections to people, places and causes that develop naturally.  Just because some of the early donations you made might not have been strategic, that doesn’t mean they weren’t good and important to keep.  Looking at what you have already done, ask if there are certain nonprofits that feel central to who you are as a company.  Is there a group that’s always been there, that you feel connected to, that has – in some way – grown up with you.  This is the outlier category in many ways because the organization might not fit into any of the other categories you’re considering (product, location, etc.)  You might just feel a passion for them, and if that commitment is strong enough, then it’s important to think about how to maintain it.

Tune in latnext time for more advice on choosing a cause for your business, looking at the role the CEO, your employees and what you WON’T give to play in the decision.  And if you know small-to-mid-sized businesses that have done a great job selecting a giving approach that’s right for them, please do share at BusinessDoingGood@blackbaud.com.

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

A series on building a giving plan.

When businesses start up and begin to market themselves – whether they’re a new store in the shopping center down the street or an IT company – people come calling, asking for money, asking for involvement.  This is all good, but it can be overwhelming if you haven’t thought through what to do and what not to do.

The typical business responds case by case, selecting an event to support, a nonprofit to help or a school to champion.  Often these decisions are made by the founder or owner of the company and have a lot to do with what that person cares about.  Make no mistake, this isn’t bad.  It’s where most businesses begin when it comes to philanthropy, and it can help you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Over time, it’s easy for a lot of money, effort, time, and even product to be used to support the requests you receive – more resources than you might expect.  So when you are seeking to be more strategic about giving, deciding to drive it versus respond to requests, it’s important to stop and figure out the actual amount of giving you do.  This is kind of like going on a treasure hunt.

How To: How much are you giving?

Review your company’s spending, working with the people who lead key areas marketing, product fulfillment and accounting.  Ask everyone to document, the best they can, what the company does for free.  This may include:

  • Philanthropic donations – If you have a specific budget established for this, great.  That makes your life easier.  If you don’t, then figure out where the donations are hitting your General Ledger.  Are they being assigned to marketing?  Or does the CEO have a discretionary fund that’s tapped here and there?  This is anything but scientific.  You may need to dig through details with your financial team and ask follow up questions to understand why the company spent money on certain things.  You are literally building a philanthropy budget line by line.
  • Sponsorships - It’s not unusual for companies to mix sponsorships and donations in the same budget.  The language people use when they ask for money can be confusing.  For example, a nonprofit may ask you to sponsor an event.  Is that a marketing expense or a donation?  It depends.  Ask why the money is being invested.  If it is being spent to promote the company and drive business, then it’s marketing (which usually comes with promotional opportunities, logo placement, tickets, and so on).  If it’s a charitable gift, done to support the nonprofit because you believe in it and you want to do good in the community, then it’s a gift.
  • Employee/community relations – Another area worth exploring is the HR budget where you may spend money on events or efforts that are aimed at connecting your company or employees to the community.  For example, you might belong to the local Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club.  Again, ask yourself why you are involved and whether the money is about benefits you receive in return or about giving.  It’s easy to get confused.  For example, you may have a membership at the local children’s museum so employees can take their kids to visit.  That’s a membership and a company benefit for employees, which is an HR investment.  The children’s museum asks you to sponsor an event.  You decide to do it because the museum store is a potential customer for the products you produce.  That’s a marketing investment.  The museum’s executive director then asks you to make a donation to the annual fund, supporting the museum’s operations.  That’s giving.
  • Products or Services – The final area to consider is the actual products and services you provide to the market.  I’m talking about what you, as a business, sell.  Say you are a local beverage company, making a new organic product.  How many bottles of this product do you donate to nonprofits for their events?  What, in dollars, does this equate to?  The same applies for professional services.  If you provide a service, like Web design, how much of this do you do for free, for charitable reasons (not to help appease an unhappy customer)?  Assign the appropriate dollar value to the donation, and count this in your giving total.

Adding it all up!

Philanthropic donations $ ________
Donations disguised as sponsorships $ ________
Donations disguised as employee relations $ ________
Donations of products or services $ ________
Total giving  = $ ________

 

Now that you have a good sense of what you’re giving (and what that totals up to in terms of $s), it’s time to think about what kind of cause you’d like to adopt – what makes sense for your business, your employees, your community.  Tune in to the next post we continue the focus on building a giving plan.

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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.

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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.

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

I had a great opportunity this summer to tie two of my favorite things – sports and social good.  The combination was powerful.

My friend in philanthropy, Marc Pollick, founder of the Giving Back Fund, invited me to his Sports and Entertainment Philanthropy Summit, following which we joined in the DOHA GOALS Forum, a meeting of leaders in sport who are interested in the role athletics play in positive change.  It was a special opportunity and one that afforded me the chance to hear from some of the world’s great athletes, from then and now.

Carl Lewis, Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Abby Wambach, Mel Davis…

I’ve been thinking about the event for weeks now, processing what I learned, what I took away and could apply to my life (and my life in business).  In the end, I wrote this blog, sharing about the role sports play in creating a platform for social change.  I’m certainly not the first person to say that sports teach meaningful lessons.  We know that.  But what I got from the event was something more, a deeper look at how critical issues in our society are lifted up through athletics.  About how the athlete in the limelight can choose to be a force for good.

So I invited you to click the link and read on…

Note – this blog was originally posted on npENGAGE.

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

It’s mid-August and time for one last summer reading recommendation. 

Although my kids are back in school this week, I can’t shake the feeling from my system that summer lasts until Labor Day weekend.  Regardless, having the kids back in school is kind of like getting a vacation from all the commotion that goes along with getting ready, seeing what clothing fits, running to the store for supplies at the last minute.  You know the drill.  And although I complain about it, I know I’ll miss it in a few short years when they flee the nest for college.

So indulge me as I offer one last recommendation – Do the KIND Thing, by Daniel Lubetzky, the founder and CEO of KIND Healthy Snacks.  I first put my hands on this book at MCON this summer, an event focused on Millennial engagement with cause work across sectors, which is hosted each year by my friend Derrick Feldman of Achieve Guidance.  I have to admit that, when I saw the book — and the title — I thought it might be a shameless promotion for KIND bars.  I like KIND bars.  In fact, I might even love them.  So I was interested to see what the book offered beyond a serving of nuts and healthful goodness.

In the end, it’s this – sound, readable, inspiring guidance for people seeking to do good while doing business.  Yes, the book does help KIND and its brand, but it does so by giving, by staying true to what Lubetzky believes.  It’s focused on what he calls “authentic purpose vs. ‘shallow cause marketing.’”  If you pick up a KIND product in the store, you’ll read the following promotional tagline – “do the kind thing for your body, your taste buds & your world.”  This book helps you see what the company means by this and what it values, as Lubetzky takes the reader on a journey through his firm’s value system, telling the KIND story along the way.

I love seeing inside a company, understanding its value structure and the bumps and successes that made the organization and the brand what it is today.  In Do the KIND Thing, Lubetzky is generous with his information, telling us the story of the start ups that failed before he created KIND and the fundanmental, conceptual infrastructuce on which he built his now highly successful healthy snack business. 

One thing is for sure.  Everything Lubetzky does is intentional.  He has a personal story that helps you understand why he values kindness the way he does.  He uses clear wrappers on his products so you can see the actual goodness you are about to buy.  He is, in short, transparent.  You could say he’s “on message,” and that would be true, too.  But I value that, as I value seeing someone who seeks to be successful while providing a product that tastes good, is good for you and is backed by a company that cares about its role in the world.

So – read the book.  And remember, as the summer ends and we all become consumed with the hectic pace of work and life, that kindness matters.

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

It’s mid-July, and I’m beginning to panic that I won’t get to everything on my summer reading list. 

Although the pace might have gotten a lot slower for my kids, who are relishing their break from the daily homework grind, I find myself taking on just as much — or maybe even more — as I usually do.  I’m not complaining.  Having a lot to do when it’s all positive, productive, interesting work is a blessing.  I definitely don’t take that for granted. 

But I do like that concept of summer reading, harkening back to my own days in school when my mother would take us to the library to enter the summer reading program.  We’d get stacks of books and lose ourselves in them on rainy days or during long car trips to someplace much wamer than Western Pennsylvania.  That idea of a long stretch of open time ahead of you — and lots of things to read — is still compelling.  So even though vacation now comes in the form of weeks and not months, I still get excited about that idea that it’s a time to create your list and dive in.

Then I find myself mid-July and worried I won’t get to everything.  And you know what?  I’ve decided that’s ok.  Maybe that’s the point where I need to give myself a proverbial break and admit that it might take until the end of the year to crack open each title.  Maybe it’s time for another kind of reading that’s equally fulfilling but not as much of a commitment. Maybe it’s time, my friends, for some really good magazines.

I’ve always been a fan of fiction, with my love of a good narrative often beating out biographies or business titles for the majority of my attention.  Maybe that’s why I find magazines so compelling, getting that dose of non-fiction, of real world news, of stories of another sort in a shorter form.  Whatever the reason, a few magazines in particular have worked their way into my must-read list.  I wanted to share them with you because, if you’re at a business that’s doing good, I think you’ll find ample inspiration in these pages:

Conscious Company: The Future of Business as Usual - a really nice publication that focuses on “a company’s ability to have a positive effect on society and the environment, in addition to making money.”  The magazine profiles companies, covers key topics of interest to those in “good” business, and celebrates the people behind this positive work. 

GOOD: A Quarterly Journal for the Global Citizen — this magazine is just plain fun.  And it has good content.  The photography is unique and compelling, and the content takes into account the importance of design as much it does the copy.  The stories are both local and global and convey a message that’s all about being a human in the context of a changing world that could use some help.

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) – while I hate to offend any other publication, I find SSIR to be just plain smart.  Not academic, mind you.  Just smart.  I truly value how it covers social innovation overall and how individuals, companies, nonprofits, the public sector and so on all work to drive change – on their own and together.  It’s a magazine for people interested in the advancement of a healthy civil society.

So, if you want or need to take a break from that book list that’s maybe too much to finish right now or you simply want to dip into something different, try these out.  It’ll be well worth your time.

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