why giving matters

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

Happy 4th of July (a tad bit early)!

I hope you’re doing something fun over the long weekend, enjoying time with your friends and family, having a picnic, going to see fireworks — whatever.  The 4th of July has always epitomized summer for me.  Sparklers, watermelon, corn on the cob and fireflies…and the knowledge that I still had more than a month of freedom before I headed back to school.  These days, as I head into the weekend, I think about it as a month before my kids head back to their studies.  Summer goes way too fast.

Whatever the 4th means to you, it’s always a wonderful time to take stock and to remember that it’s a birthday celebration that’s all about independence.  It’s a day that marks the beginning of our official path as a country, a country known for being a place where the American Dream can and should flourish.

To me, the American Dream — of prosperity bred from independence and opportunity — is so tied to the role of small business in this country.  Looking across the small business sector in my own area, I see a diverse array of people, products, services and brands.  A collection of ideas that each turned, through hard work and passion, into pieces of our community.  I see professional services like CPAs, law firms and architects; shops that sell candy, clothing, garden equipment, books, bow ties and gourmet wine; personal services like lawncare, housekeeping, skincare and Pilates; and business-to-business services that help others accomplish their goals by providing parts, people and other resources.

Although we seem to live in the day of the BIG brand, the reality is that each of our communities is filled with small businesses that are woven into what makes a pretty unique fabric.  Each thread in that fabric represents an individual dream, a desire to take an idea and turn it into reality, a business that’s employing people and adding to the color and character of our world.  In my neighborhood alone, I am thankful for Earthfare, Mindful Body, Lava Salon, Normandy Farm, Dolittle’s, Half Moon Outfitters and more…

So, as you celebrate this Independence Day, remember all those businesses that play a role in your life.  And resolve — at the half way point of 2014 — to incorporate more small businesses into your weekly spend.  Because preserving and supporting small business is one very big way we can all help invest in the fabric of our country.

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

You have Millennials working for you, right?  Most of you probably do.  And IF you do, the just-released Millennial Impact Study is a MUST READ.

Why?  Because this study – in its fourth year but the first focusing specifically on Millennials at work – is all about why cause+work = happy employees.  Over the past few years, Achieve Guidance, with support from The Case Foundation, has sought to better understand the giving and volunteerism habits of this much-discussed generation.  By looking at Millennials at work, and asking about how much employers both seek to do good AND offer ways for employees to do good, adds a really interesting layer to the argument about “Why Corporate Social Responsibility” (i.e. doing good) should matter to your small business.

I really want you to click this link and get a free copy of either the executive summary or the full report.  As a teaser, I’ll share a few of the top-line results…

  • Hiring Millennials – “More than 50% of Millennials were influenced to accept a job based on that company’s involvement with causes.”  (Plus, this same involvement influenced more than 30% to apply and interview for the job.)  Here’s a great quote from the study that speaks volumes.  “I took the position here because if a company cares that much about outside causes, then I know they are invested in treating me right as an employee.”  Wow.
  • Supporting Causes – “87% of Millennial employees donated to a nonprofit organization in 2013.”  (What’s your small business doing to donate?  If the answer is “not much,” circle back to that hiring data point above and think about how giving could be a strategic move for your business.)
  • Offering Millennials Opportunities to Volunteer through Work – “62% prefer to volunteer with people in their department.”  (This tells us Millennials like group efforts vs. solo gigs, so keep that in mind as you look at the role volunteerism plays in your culture.)

These tidbits just scratch the surface of the data shared in the Millennial Impact Report.  Kudos to Derrick Feldmann of Achieve Guidance (guest blogger for Business Doing Good), Emily Yu and the amazing team at The Case Foundation and all the Millennial employees who participated in the research.  The company where I work — Blackbaud — was thrilled to help with this project, sharing the survey with our Millennial employees so they could chime in.

So read the report, and think about what you do to give back.  If you need ideas, check out the resources section of Business Doing Good to learn how to build a give back program at your small business.

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

No one knows when disaster will strike.  That’s one of the things that makes it a disaster, the unexpected nature of things.  The surprise.  The shock.

But being surprised doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared to help.  And one really important way to do that is to give blood.

When I walked into work the other day, I was greeted by signs for what has become a regular event in our lobby — a blood drive.  These drives, coordinated by an employee and done in partnership with the American Red Cross, are a regular thing where I work.  It’s just something we do to help out.  Although getting the message out to employees and making sure facilities knows what will be going on takes some time, the rest is really pretty easy.  The American Red Cross does what it does around the country, bringing in its equipment and team.  And our people do their thing, too, sharing a very precious resource that will be put to very good use. 

I could tell the same story about my son’s school.  Although you can’t give blood until you’re 17 (and weigh at at least 110 pounds), which effectively eliminates most kids who aren’t yet out of high school, there are a lot of people around the school community who CAN give.  Staff, teachers, parents, local community members and — yes — some of the older students.  Like most schools, the one where my son attends has a student dealing with a major medical issue.  And giving blood, even if it doesn’t end up directly helping a friend, is a great way to add to the bank that will assist many others…and assist them when they need it most.

According to the American Red Cross website, one pint of blood can save up to three lives.  THAT is amazing.  So what does this mean for your small business?  What it is, my friends, is an opportunity. 

  • Coordinate with other small businesses in your area (perhaps a shopping center or a row of shops downtown) to host a blood drive.  If you don’t have a place to hold it but want to make it happen, connect with community partners — perhaps a public library, a fire station or some other central place — expanding the group of people and organizations involved.
  • Promote the blood drive in your shop window, on your website, with your customers and suppliers.  Share the news so others who care can join in.
  • Ask your employees if they feel comfortable giving blood.  Not everyone is, and having someone from the American Red Cross speak to your team as a group can help.  They can help overcome fear, help give people courage, and answer questions that might have been a roadblock in the past.  Remember, in the end, it’s a personal choice to give.
  • Understand that not everyone CAN give blood.  I spent time overseas in college, and that kept me from giving blood for a period of time.  Others may have their own medical conditions (which they’d like to keep private) that keep them from donating.  So be respectful in how you ask and understanding if the answer is no.
  • If you don’t have the resources or ability to coordinate a blood drive, find out when they are being held in your community and promote those events.  Don’t let the inconvenience of getting to another place to give get in your way.

By giving blood when life is normal, you’re equipping aid workers to help others when disaster strikes.  And whether you know the people who are helped through the donation, you can live just knowing you did a really good thing, something someone might do for you someday.  Make giving blood something your small business does regularly!

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

It’s almost here, and I can’t wait!

Next week — May 12-16 — is National Small Business Week in the United States.  Every year since the early 1960s, a series of U.S. Presidents have declared a specific week as a time to celebrate small businesses and the entrepreneurs who run them.  There are events in several major cities, hosted by the Small Business Administration, as well as online opportunities to connect.

But I’m not talking about this today to get you to attend an event.  Instead, my purpose today is simply to raise awareness.  Wherever you live, whatever you do, you are likely surrounded by small businesses, small business owners and the employees who keep everything going.  They serve your coffee, provide your produce, help you with legal needs, teach your exercise class, do your taxes, clean your office, consult on your brand, build your website, and more.  They do SO much.  Think about HOW much.

Today, a few days before National Small Business Week, I’d like to ask you to first think about the businesses you rely on everyday — professionally and personally — and to make a point of saying thank you sometime in the next week.  The fact that you use their services, buy their products or rely on their expertise is incredibly important to them.  You are NOT just a number.  Second, I would like you to figure out if there are one or two more small businesses you could add to the array of firms that already help you.  What service or product have you needed and just put off?  How could you fill that need through a small business in your community?  Think both for your business and for your life.  I bet you that you’ll come up with ideas.

I know we have Small Business Saturday, and I love that.  I also love the many organizations focused on encouraging people to shop local – like Lowcountry Local First here in Charleston — which often means shopping small.  But I want us to do more, each of us…to do more.  So next week, please join me.  Be local.  Be small business.  Say thank you, with your words and your dollars.


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By Alice Korngold, president of Korngold Consulting LLC

Note – today’s guest post is by the amazing Alice Korngold, who has been consulting to businesses, foundations, and NGOs/nonprofits on sustainability, CSR, and board governance for more than 20 years. She has also trained and placed more than 1,000 corporate executives on NGO/nonprofit boards as well as running two financially self-sustaining social enterprises.  (Yes, she HAS done it all.)  I hope you enjoy the wisdom she shares with us today! – Rachel

My recent book, A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), shows that multinational corporations have the vast financial resources, global footprint, and advantage of market forces to solve worldwide problems such as poverty and wealth inequality, climate change, the depletion of natural resources, access to education and healthcare, and human rights. The same principles apply to small and mid-sized companies whose interests tend to be focused more regionally; they, too, have valuable human and technology resources, and incentives of the marketplace, to remedy problems facing communities in which their employees and consumers live and work.

Most businesses can only maximize profits under the following conditions:

  1. The local workforce is educated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and their skills are honed for creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.
  2. The company’s employees and their families—and members of the community—are healthy, vital, employable, and employed.
  3. The company’s facilities—and their employees’ homes—are in locations that are free from the hazards of catastrophic storms, floods, and droughts caused by climate change.
  4. The company has ongoing and long-term access to the materials and supplies that are necessary for the continuation of its business—perhaps including air, water, timber, and arable land.

When the above conditions are in jeopardy, companies—large and small—cannot achieve their full potential; their very existence can be threatened. While nonprofits have important missions and excellent approaches to address some of these social, environmental, and economic matters, nonprofits lack the resources to scale for sufficient impact.  Governments are often bogged down with partisan and contentious quarreling, and sometimes just too bureaucratic to get much done.

Businesses, on the other hand, are motivated by profits, and can bring valuable human, financial, and technology resources to fix many of the problems named above. For businesses, it’s a win-win-win for them, their employees, and the community to find solutions to education, healthcare, the environment, and other local issues, such as housing and homelessness. Yet businesses cannot remedy these matters on their own. As shown in A Better World, Inc., businesses are only successful in addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges when they partner with nonprofits, engage with stakeholders (members of the community, consumers, employees, and government, for example), and have effective board governance. This applies to small and mid-sized businesses just as well as multinational corporations.

My earlier book, Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits by Engaging Businesses (Jossey Bass, a Wiley Imprint, 2005) provides examples of small and mid-sized companies that productively engage in local problem-solving through a combination of philanthropy, contributions of technology and equipment, and volunteering, including skills-based assistance and nonprofit board service. Both books demonstrate how much employees appreciate working for companies that invest in strengthening communities, and supporting employees’ personal and professional development through service.

Additionally, examples in Leveraging Good Will show the leadership development value of nonprofit board service, which can be achieved through service on global, national, and regional boards of directors. Essential for a successful board experience is that the match be a proper fit for the board candidate and the nonprofit, and that the board candidate be effectively prepared for serving on the board.

The bottom line is that doing good is good for businesses, large and small.

“Doing something is doing something.”

That was the quote of the day from a panel I was on yesterday in Charlotte, NC, sharing insights about skills-based volunteerism.  It came from Melissa Buchanan, the senior vice president of global volunteerism at Wells Fargo. 

I know, I know, Wells Fargo is a big company.  But, you know what?  Her point is an excellent one.  “Doing something is doing something.”  One step, no matter how small, in the direction of offering your skills to do good is the RIGHT step.  And even at big companies, small steps are important.

So that means small steps made by small businesses also matter.  Of course they do!  Remember where I began this blog…with the concept that “good is for everyone.”

The panel discussion was specifically about skills-based volunteerism — or doing good work where you deploy your professional skills instead of basic labor or people power.  It was hosted by A Billion+Change, an initiative of Points of Light.  I know that sounds really big and imporant (and it IS important), but more than 50% of the businesses that have engaged in the initiative (by making a pledge to offer skill to nonprofits) are small-to-mid-sized businesses.  I find that incredibly cool and inspiring.

My job on the panel was to share what Blackbaud does to help employees give skills back to the nonprofit market we love so much.  I had the honor of talking about Camp Blackbaud, which is a way our Products team (think software engineers, QA testers, usability designers with skills nonprofits usually don’t seek in volunteers) helps disadvantaged kids get inspired to have careers in science and math.  But first, they need to break the cycle and go to college.  We partner with Charleston Promise Neighborhood and work jointly, helping to meet their needs and giving our employees a hugely valuable experience at the same time.  (Here’s a video an employee did for us, using her skills to help in another unique way.)

Rounding out the panel was Teresa Coles from Riggs Partners, the incredible marketing consultancy that started CreateAthon, a 24-hour marketing and design extravaganza focused on helping nonprofits.  It’s a fabulous example of a small firm just “doing something” that, over time, grew into 80 firms “doing something.” 

You know why all three of our firms (small, medium and large) participate in skills-based volunteerism, beyond the fact that we simply believe it’s the right thing to do?  We do it for our people, for the employees who walk in the door or dial in every day, who are the very fabric of our businesses.  We do it to help them engage, find outlets for their desire to help in the world, and to help them bond with the business so they’ll stay for the long term.

I’m inspired.  Hope you are, too…and that you “do something.”

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

I hope you’re spending the day doing something to make a difference in the world.  Giving, serving, reflecting on how far we’ve come and where we still need to go.

The bottom line for me today (and every day)?  Service matters.  Giving matters.  And your business, no matter what the size, can engage in an intentional way.

I’m marking the day by posting a compilation of the blog series on Creating a Giving Plan for Your Small Business.  It’s my hope that you find this free guide helpful whenever you need it.  I’ve posted this PDF in the resources section of this site, along with the kick-off series Why Doing Good Matters to Small Businesses and the first of many Spotlights.  I want to make it easy for you to find these documents, instead of having to piece together the posts or go searching for something you know you read.

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Ok, it’s time to get back to the giving plan.  I have a few more installments to post, then I’ll share a PDF of all the posts in this series so you can easily refer back to it as you build your own plan. 

Once you have the infrastructure of your giving plan in place, with a budget and focus established, you will have time to consider additional ways to expand what you do.  This is where things can get really fun.  Examples could include:

  • Employee giving through payroll deduction – Workplace giving campaigns have long been a part of corporate America, with the United Way leading the charge and other large nonprofit brands offering ways for employees to give back directly through their paychecks.  This remains an option today, although as people become more aware of the array of nonprofits and causes to support, it can be difficult for a company to pick which organizations to feature.  If you have a fund or foundation, one option is to offer your people the ability to support these efforts, making the donations part company, part employee. 
  • Matching employees’ gifts, informally and formally – Smaller businesses usually don’t have the people power to offer traditional matching gift programs, where a certain dollar amount is given to nonprofits where employees make a donation (up to an agreed upon cap).  That doesn’t mean you can’t adopt informal matching programs, such as offering to match all the donations made in support of a local holiday drive.  This is a great way for company dollars to be used to support and enhance employee donations.  When you announce or make the ultimate gift to the nonprofit, you can celebrate your combined role in donating the money.
  • Donations for nonprofits where employees volunteer – Another option is to offer what some businesses call “dollars for doers” or grants that are in support of nonprofits where employees volunteer.  If your firm values service, this is a great way to differentiate between all those asks you get from “someone’s cousin who has a kid in the band” and employees doing meaningful volunteer work.  Take the program one step further, and form an employee committee to evaluate the grant applications and select winners each quarter.  This is a nice way to empower your people and help relieve executives from some of the pressure they get from the community to give. 
  • Donations in support of team volunteer efforts
    Sending teams out into the community to serve or participate in a charity event is a great way to build unity and strong ties.  In addition to the team building itself, these opportunities help employees engage with the community on your behalf and help them learn about philanthropy.  Consider setting aside a little bit of money each year to support the events your employees want to participate in.  Putting company money behind their team can help spur them on and build the bond they have with the brand.

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I began 2014 really early.  Way too early, in fact.

Rising at 3:30 a.m., I began the drive to North Carolina to pick up my son from a retreat for teens at a camp he attends in the summer.  I can’t say I was thrilled to be up so early (although I really didn’t mind forgoing the hoopla of New Year’s Eve this time around for an early night).  Being up when others are asleep can seem so lonely.  But what I found, as I drove the completely open road north, was a sense of peace and a time to think.

It being January 1, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past year and be thankful for many things – seeing all of my cousins, aunts and uncles in the same place for the first time in years, pilates (something new for me in 2013), my boys, great books (Capital, Yes Chef and A Fine Balance being high on the list of best reads for the year), helping to launch the inaugural TEDxCharleston, and anything and everything that — in my life — equates to good.

If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that I take the fundamental position that good is for everyone.  That we should all seek to figure out the unique ways we can each express what I believe (or at least hope) is an innate desire to help others, to help improve “the situation” (whatever that may be to you).

It’s from that position or place of thinking that Business Doing Good was launched on #GivingTuesday 2013, seeking to offer the insights I’ve learned from building a give-back program at a once small, now mid-sized business with others who want to take a similar journey.  That business is a terrific company called Blackbaud that is my partner in this venture, seeking to share knowledge as another way we give back.  (And, yes, I am very thankful, for what the company and my wonderful, giving colleagues do to make a difference in the world both professionally and personally.)

So what will 2014 bring?  It is my sincere hope that “business doing good” continues to build as a movement.  That the circle of those tying the concept of “doing good while doing well” broadens.  That people at businesses small, medium and large seek new and different ways to acknowledge that human desire to serve, weaving it into more intentional actions that exist side by side with “the business.”  In doing so, I hope to see us be more local, more global (yes, the two can co-exist) and more successful in all ways (as firms and as people).

My resolution for Business Doing Good for 2014 is to help grow the “good movement.”  Because, you guessed it, good is for everyone.

A guest post by, Derrick Feldmann, CEO of ACHIEVE.

When Millennials (born in the 80’s and early 90’s) step through the doors of your business, they don’t check their community interests at the door. They bring their causes and passion to work with them.

This generation has grown up with service, volunteerism in schools, and cause work with friends and peers. They are naturally inclined to help when a disaster occurs, build a movement through digital technology to involve peers in giving and service, and inspire their friends to act to help an individual they have never met but who inspires them through images and stories shared through social media.

This generation is wired to engage naturally in your company’s cause and give back work (CSR), but not in the typical ways we have seen in the past.

Millennials are asking their employers, “How are you involved in the community” and “How will you use my talent to help our community and the causes the company partners with?” As employers, you can’t simply say you will try, but rather – “Yes, and let’s talk about your skills and how we can place you in the community on our time to make causes better.” You need to tell them how their skills and leadership can be enhanced, not diminished, through cause work.

From sustainable operations to local community work, aiding causes and serving a purpose in a community is expected. Business give-back programs are key. A workforce that engages with causes meaningfully feels more satisfied and fulfilled as it takes on its primary responsibilities for the company.

To learn more about the latest research on Millennials and cause engagement, click here or get more involved by signing up to be a corporate research partner.