School

Rachel_Hutchisson

Rachel Hutchisson is a corporate responsibility & philanthropy guru. 24 years at Blackbaud led her to grow a passion and true talent for developing and implementing strategic philanthropy and corporate social responsibility in her company. Then she took all that knowledge and experience to create “Business doing Good”, a website she started in order to give advice to businesses that wanted to build a give back function. Rachel believes that “good is for everyone” and that the public discourse and mindsets are being changed thanks to the growth of social good campaigns, initiatives and talks by leaders in many industries. Horyou got to ask her key questions about her career, growing a sustainable business culture and how she sees the future.

Have you always wanted to be an advocate for Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy? How did it come about?

When I joined the workforce with a master’s degree in journalism, I thought I was headed to a career in communications, perhaps for a college or a healthcare center (which is interesting because these are some of the kinds of organizations my company serves). I ended up meeting some interesting people from Blackbaud, a then 130-person technology company providing software to nonprofit organizations, and was offered a job which I thought would be an interesting challenge for a few years. Over the past 24 years, the company has grown tremendously, and I with it, taking on a series of newly formed roles and ultimately formally establishing our strategic philanthropy and corporate social responsibility function. I describe my role as working at the intersection of nonprofits and corporate good, which is especially meaningful for a company where we power the business of philanthropy through the solutions we offer. I walked in the door so many years ago not realizing the incredible power and reach of the philanthropic sector. Now, I look back realizing that my parents raised me to be a part of this world of social good, modeling volunteerism and compassion through their own work in the community, work that I didn’t realize could lead to a profession. Now, my life and my work are intertwined.

How did the idea for Business doing good come about and what is its purpose?

Business Doing Good, the website I launched on #GivingTuesday 2013 to offer advice to small businesses interested in building a give back function into their firms, was born out of my own experiences. When I took on the challenge of building the philanthropy and corporate social responsibility function at Blackbaud, I looked to the broader business world to learn the best practices. However, the examples and resources I found were mainly for very large corporates with operations around the world. So I pieced together my own plans and learned along the way. With a really good operation now in place, I thought it was important to give back by sharing insights and experience, making it easier for those who followed. It’s also important to know that I have a fundamental belief that “good is for everyone,” (individuals, nonprofits, government, small businesses or corporates). So I was seeking, by making the advice on the site clear and easy to understand, to empower anyone in business who wanted to give back.

What are your best/favorite success stories from creating and building give back programs?

My favorite success stories over the years are always about people, whether they are our employees who are engaging in the community or the people we are serving through our philanthropy. I am hugely proud of Camp Blackbaud, a STEM-focused camp where staff from our Products team introduce disadvantaged middle school kids to programming and careers in tech. They walk in the door thinking technology is something unreachable to them and leave saying they’ll be back to work for us after they graduate from college. That’s the goal, to help Charleston Promise Neighborhood (our nonprofit partner) open these kids’ eyes to education and the role it can play in changing their lives. The kids are great, smart, lively and so enthusiastic. Our people love leading the camp, especially how they can share their skills (programmers, usability designers, quality assurance, etc., not being skills nonprofits typically ask for in volunteers).

Camp Blackbaud
]7 Camp Blackbaud

What in your opinion are the three building blocks for a company to establish solid corporate citizenship and philanthropic practice?

1) Vocal CEO Support – Having vocal support from the very top of the company is essential to building a solid corporate social responsibility practice. There is absolutely nothing that compares to a CEO’s ability to make citizenship, service and giving a priority from a corporate level, across the management team and with individual employees. Your CEO needs to be your strongest advocate and be willing to open doors or ensure you are involved in the conversations where your work can truly make a difference.

2) Partnerships with key leaders in the company – corporate social responsibility teams are traditionally small but span across entire operations and locations. For this reason, you will need strong partnerships with people who understand how your collective work will deepen their success. Key leaders should include those leading talent acquisition, HR, culture, corporate marketing, business units or company sites. Working together to determine how what you can offer will help them succeed is at the heart of corporate social responsibility.

3) Engaging employees as advocates and a key audience – corporate social responsibility is important inside and outside the company, and employees are both key agents of telling the story and a key audience to engage. Design your program to be one that helps bring good people to the company who want to engage and who, by engaging, are more likely to stay and thrive, telling their own stories. Make your giving and service a differentiator that makes you an employer of choice, one your people are proud to speak about.

We live in a culture of consumerism as opposed to a giving back culture, how do we slowly change that mindset? Is it really possible to combine the two?

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Yes, I not only believe but see every day at Blackbaud that it is possible to combine a culture of doing good with doing well. We can change those with a purely consumer mindset by what we do as people, how we give back and the priorities we set, and how we lead the organizations where we pursue our careers. Also, there are many positive messages in the world about how to advance good. I like to say that my kids are hearing from their president, their priest, their teachers and their parents that they should give back, and these messages are sinking in. The number of degrees available in nonprofit management, philanthropy and social innovation are a sign of this positive shift, as is the growing understanding that you can bring socially minded philosophies into the business world.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years? Any ideals?

In five to ten years, I see myself working in the middle of a cause and an organization that I’m proud to champion and feel driven to help succeed. There is so much more to do, and the idea of how social good can help drive positive change brings much promise.

You joined Horyou, what does our mantra Dream, Act and Inspire mean to you personally and professionally?

I never dared to dream that I would end up with such a wonderful, fulfilling career focused on good. But now that I am here and looking at how else I can add value, I see this mantra as a responsibility, a charge to make sure I do dream, I continue to act, and I always take the time to inspire. Finally, I would say that it reminds me of my personal commitment to mentor as many women in my community as I can. There are a few people who helped me immeasurably on my own journey, and I strongly believe it is my duty to pay that forward.

By Amma Aburam

Classroom Photo

Written By Laurie Martin

The Saèk Thmey school opened its doors in the periphery of Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Nov. 4. The school is perfectly located near the famous temples of Angkor Wat, as the purpose of the school is to train young Cambodians from underpriviledged areas of the country to work in the tourism field. Saek Logo

Saèk Thmey International (meaning “better future”) was founded in 2011 in order to assist those young Cambodians by teaching them professional skills. Despite the strong demand for French speakers in the tourism sector, it was very uncommon for this in the country. The only schools that provided this type of training were available only to wealthier families and expat children.

The association was fully created by the end of 2013. Its main project became to create the first school in the country providing formal education in French and making it accessible for lower-class families.

In September 2014, the team rented a building close to Siem Reap to house the school; three months later, the school was ready to host its first scholars. School Building The class sizes are between 16 and 25, and there are two classes each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

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Projects on the Horyou platform are a key component in the promotion of social good. By starting an individual or group Project on Horyou, you can gain exposure, recognition, support and much more.

We recently interviewed Hector Alvarez from beyondBeanie, the winner of the SIGEF 2014 Call for Projects People’s Choice Award. Horyou believes in bringing visibility to projects that positively affect their communities. This is the case with beyondBeanie.

*Let’s first talk about this idea. How did it happen?

It all started during a trip to Bolivia in summer of 2013 in which I went to visit Paty, a friend whom I had gotten to know some years earlier in California. While traveling, my friend and I were talking about the hardships faced by the women artisans of Bolivia who struggle to make a living through selling their creations to tourists and passersby in the streets of La Paz and Uyuni. I really liked their knitted creations, especially the beanies! I went ahead and got myself a few of my favorite ones back to Europe. Once winter started to set in Switzerland, I showed around my Bolivian beanies to my friends to get their feedback. I was very pleased to see that they liked them too, and even more once I showed them the pictures of my trip as well as pictures of the artisans and local people whom I had met. What happened next was that I told my Bolivian friend to send me some products that I would try to sell through my friends. Paty went back to La Paz from her hometown Cochabamba (a six-hour drive), organized a few artisans and made some sample products for me. It was important for us to let my friends know who made their products. Therefore, every product includes the name of the artisan who made it, whom my friends could meet through photos. While talking to Paty, we also realized that there was a great need to help street and orphan children in Bolivia, and that is how the idea to have every product attached to a help of children came to be. Our project finally came life in March 2014 and I said to myself: “I’m ready for this!”

How is bB making a difference?

We are making a difference by creating sustainable local jobs for women artisans so that they no longer have to go out on the streets and leave their children unattended, as well as continuing to help children in need with every item sold (one beanie = five meals, one bag = one set of school supplies, one poncho = one school uniform).

Something we find very interesting is your approach to bB: “BeyondBeanie is a lifestyle brand.” Can you give us your insight on this?

What we mean by lifestyle is that we do not just want to be a brand which sells products but which also educates people about how their everyday life choices can make a positive impact to the world. We believe that by combining fashion with solidarity, we can create a brand that can create sustainable change – a brand which conscious-minded consumers not just appreciate but also “live,” as opposed to just “wear.”

There are many people involved in this process: artisans, local organizations and communities, the bB team, among others. How does the entire process work?

Yes, it is indeed a very large and complex process in which there are lots of parts and people involved.

First of all, it all starts with the idea that even though we do charitable work, it is our goal to position ourselves as a fashion brand so that we can make our social enterprise sustainable over the long run (the idea is to have people want to shop our products first and foremost because they are catchy and cool while having the added value of giving back, instead of simply buying because they feel sorry about street children and shop simply to support, but just wear our products once or maybe twice in their whole lives).

In order to come up with great looking and trendy products, we spend a whole lot of time studying and following fashion trends, which is mostly done by Paty and her assistant, Renee. In addition, we do also work in close collaboration with top fashion bloggers and bloggers such as Depeches Mode in France, or Braided Bliss, Victoria Moronta and Lisa Marie Prang in the USA, who all evaluate and try our products and submit feedback to us.

Once the products’ prototypes are approved and OK’d by our sample population, Paty will indicate to the artisans their specifications, such as required texture and wool, lengths and diameters, etc. This process is not always easy, as the product making can have some variations from person to person (our items are not industrially made but rather individually crafted, knitted, weaved and sewn by our talented artisans.

Even though most of our artisans whom we support already have good knowledge and experience in knitting and weaving, they still require training to understand how to master the making and specifications of our products. Therefore, we have learned that it is important to prepare everything several months in advance.

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Fortunately, the part of forming collaboration with children centers to support has been relatively easy since Paty already had some connections with children’s centers that needed help and were eager to accept our support. The main problem was mainly in the beginning to try to understand what are the centers’ greatest needs, but once we understood them, the rest has been relatively easy.

Then the process that relates to the team, interns and volunteers helping in the project, we have a global team, which is divided, in two continents (Bolivia in Latin America and Switzerland, Germany and the UK in Europe, and most recently in the USA). The first few months when we got established were definitely difficult. In short, we all had to put lots of effort to deal with time differences, learn each other’s tasks, etc. Anyhow, everyone who has gotten on board has always felt a strong commitment and interest in the success of the project. Therefore, this has been a very powerful ingredient that has kept us together, even when things have gotten rough along the way.

I hope this gives a good overview about how everything works and flows. :)

What is your vision for bB? What do you think it can become?

It’s my dream to become a brand of choice for people who care about social good, as well as to hopefully serve as an example to other projects.
In the future, we would like to continue to expand our presence into other countries and online presence, as well as to continue to form collaborations with other awesome organizations that promote and “live” social good, such as Horyou.

Finally: What is your Dream? What is you Inspiration? What does the word “Action” mean for bB?

My dream for bB is to continue to develop our social brand, to keep establishing partnerships with similar-minded organizations, to keep promoting social good, all while educating consumers and impacting lives. Our inspiration here at bB is the happy faces and see how lives get changed to the about 80 children in two centers and 17 artisans that we support. The word “action” means to go out of one’s box and dare to do things in a different way to create positive change not just for oneself but to those around us too.

Thank you to Hector and all of the people from the beyondBeanie team for taking the time to share their vision with Horyou and for the video bB dedicated to us! We wish your 2015 to be full of many more accomplishments in the promotion of arts and education by strengthening the communities you directly support.

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