Rachel Hutchisson

Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy, Blackbaud

Rachel built Blackbaud's Corporate Social Responsibility practice from the ground up, and helps to lead the conversation around how small and medium sized business can be strong corporate citizens.

  • I realize, looking back at my life, that I have grown up surrounded by Skills-Based volunteerism.

Describe your work and what drives you.

I have the distinct honor and pleasure of running Blackbaud’s corporate social responsibility, a strategic function I have built over the years as the company has grown from an entrepreneurial start up to a publicly traded company. Today, we provide technology and data solutions that power and connect the entire spectrum of philanthropy – individuals taking on cause action, 30,000 nonprofits seeking to maximize their fundraising and operate more efficiently, more than 1,000 grant-making foundations, and companies seeking to turn their employees into agents of good. ...Read more

What was your first exposure to Pro Bono?

To really answer this question, it’s important that you know that I think of Pro Bono, at heart, as being skill-based volunteerism where a professional offers his or her skills to a nonprofit at no charge. I look at this type of service as being at the pinnacle of the volunteerism spectrum. Many view Pro Bono as being project based where a project is scoped by a nonprofit and a group of skilled volunteers take it on at no charge but with the same professional focus and committee as they would a paid venture. ...Read more

Why did you become “hooked” on Pro Bono / Skills-Based Volunteering?

I am a huge fan of Skills-Based volunteerism for two equally important reasons.

  1. It results in a much more meaningful contribution to the nonprofit, both in terms of the cost value of the skill and the lasting impact it makes.
  2. It results in a much more meaningful experience for the volunteer who can see that he or she did something that is of real financial and lasting value.

Although days of caring or other team volunteer activities where physical labor is provided are important types of volunteerism, they also can leave people unfulfilled. ...Read more

What has been most rewarding about participating in a Pro Bono program?

To me, the reward is twofold. First and foremost, it is the genuine thanks from the nonprofit partner when the organization realizes what you were uniquely able to do and what a lasting impact it will make. Often, this comes with an excitement about how easy it was to work with our staff and how much they genuinely wanted to help the organization. Also, when we are able to see the end recipients of a project (middle school kids learning to code, for example, that’s a gift – see the video from Camp Blackbaud here.) ...Read more

What was most challenging, in your role, about leveraging or participating in a Pro Bono program?

The biggest challenge we face is identifying and scoping projects that also meet the skills of our employees and also fit in with the time and attention they can give them. Nonprofits don’t typically know they can ask for volunteers with key skills, so we are left to approach organizations with ideas. It takes a good partner to figure out where their needs align with what you have to offer.

  • Skills-Based volunteerism is about identifying the skills you have to offer and finding outlets where there is a match.

If someone was in your shoes, looking to get started with Skills-Based volunteering for the first time, what advice would you give or tool would you point them to?

I would advise them to keep it as simple as possible, not worrying that they may not be a big company or have massive amounts of resources. Skills-Based volunteerism is about identifying the skills you have to offer and finding outlets where there is a match. I would recommend that they keep open minded about partners, seeking to find ones where there is a real match versus going in thinking you must help a certain cause. I would also recommend they start small and build as they go. ...Read more

If Pro Bono were a celebrity, who would it be and why?

Jamie Oliver – he’s current, socially minded, and has turned his love for food into a passion for providing quality nutrition in the school.

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