Blackbaud’s CMO Catherine LaCour Reflects on Blackbaud’s Sustainable Development Goals Commitments

As I look ahead to UN Week and the bustle of activity it brings as world leaders, diplomats, business leaders, nonprofit organizations and others together to discuss the world’s most pressing problems, it’s also a great time to pause and take pride in what Blackbaud has been able to contribute in the last two years since we first made our commitment at the 2016 UN Private Sector Forum in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 interconnected global goals adopted by 193 member states during UN Week 2015 that address various global challenges. We were honored to participate in the Private Sector Forum, which brings together CEOs, Heads of State and Government, and leaders from the UN and civil society each year to address global challenges, and I look forward to representing Blackbaud at this year’s Forum.  

In support of SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals), at the 2016 Forum we pledged to “map over 35,000 customers and partners, trends in giving and collaborative ways to increase innovative investment to grow the social economy in order to develop an ‘ecosystem of good’ framework for normalizing and explaining the SDGs in the U.S.” Since that time, Blackbaud has made great strides toward achieving that commitment, both through its position as a natural convener in the social good community and through our technology solutions.   

Progressing the SDGs Through Thought Leadership
As head of the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, I could not be prouder of the work my team has done to release leading-edge research and insight that accelerates the impact of the social good community. These publications help inform organizations in how they can be more effective, allowing them to do even more. From our annual npEXPERTS series, which brings philanthropic leaders together, delivering actionable insight and perspectives on pressing topics in social good, to our Next Generation of Giving research series that uncovers how organizations across the globe can better connect with supporters of all generations, to resources like our Financial Management Toolkit, which provides step-by-step guidance on how nonprofit finance and development departments can drive greater mission impact by working together as true strategic partners, the Blackbaud Institute is helping to drive the social good community forward and accomplish more good that supports all aspects of the SDGs. 

Additionally, through our award-winning thought leadership blog, npENGAGE, we have provided our significant reading audience with tools and insights for addressing the SDGs, no matter their size or geography. Notable leaders such as Alison Holder, executive director of Equal Measures 2030, have contributed their expertise to this effort, and we continue to look to leverage npENGAGE as a channel to deliver best practices and tips to help organizations support the SDGs.  

Advancing the SDGs Through Technology
In May 2017, we announced the integration of the SDGs into our Blackbaud Outcomes solution, allowing funders to easily report the impact of their grantmaking on the 17 goals and related targets. Blackbaud customers are now able to easily collaborate with their grantee partners (many of whom are also customers) around specific SDGs with instant access to reporting around progress and results. The combination of the Blackbaud Outcomes sector-sourced measurement taxonomy with the SDGs has resulted in the most powerful software tool available to grantmakers to measure the impact of their programs.  

Supporting the SDGs Through Collaboration
Also in 2017, we announced the publication of “Global Goals Mapping: A Resource for Social Good Organizations,” a collaborative effort of Blackbaud, Foundation Center, Council on Foundations and Global Impact. “Global Goals Mapping” is a comprehensive resource that maps giving and volunteerism using both the IRS National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) codes and the United Nations International Classification of Nonprofit Organizations (ICNPO) codes to classify the activity and programs of charities and connect them to the SDGs. It creates a shared alignment resource to support all organizations across sectors in their efforts to map their contributions toward the SDGs. Each of the four partners has been integrating the resource into their offerings with a goal of improving funders’, companies’ and other stakeholders’ financial and human capital investments toward achieving the SDGs for a sustainable future. Participating in partnerships like this to provide needed resources to the sector is at the core of who we are as a company. More details can be found at: 

Embracing the SDGs Internally
Blackbaud has also championed the SDGs through our corporate social responsibility (CSR) and HR efforts. We’re a member of IMPACT 2030, a private sector-led initiative, in collaboration with the United Nations, social and public sectors, and academia, with the unique mission to activate human capital investments through employee volunteer programs to advance the achievement of the SDGs, and have played a key role on the organization’s Measurement Committee. 

We’ve supported SDG 4 (Quality Education) through programs such as Camp Blackbaud, which offers STEM education opportunities to local underserved youth, and the Blackbaud Fund at the Coastal Community Foundation, which provides grants to support education for disadvantaged youth and the disabled in our local Charleston, South Carolina community, among others.   

We’ve also demonstrated support of SDG 5 (Gender Equality) through our commitment to gender equality in the workplace – Blackbaud is proud to have a better-than-industry-average female to male employee ratio, and we continue to look for new ways to empower women into leadership positions. We were recently recognized for our efforts on the Forbes Best Employers for Women list, and named a Top Company for Women Technologists by

Looking back on all we’ve accomplished so far has made me even more excited for the week to come. We’re not done yet, and I look forward to meeting with colleagues from across the social good community at events like Global Citizen Movement Makers, the Goalkeepers Summit and others to further explore how we can work together to advance the SDGs in meaningful ways through future partnership, convenings, research and technology innovations. 

#WEF2018 “Creating Visions for a Shared Future”

Four days, six feet of snow, 24 miles walked, 54,970 steps taken, 79 floors climbed, 60+ business cards exchanged, six panels, five interviews, three roundtables, and countless passionate, dedicated individuals “committed to improving the state of the world”.  While this summarizes my first World Economic Forum (WEF), it does not nearly begin to demonstrate the depth of learning, connections, and inspiration that made up my week in Davos, Switzerland last week.   

Every year, the World Economic Forum brings together global leaders across the public, private and social sectors. It’s an awe-inspiring group, but what is more inspirational is the purpose: WEF was created as an opportunity to find creative solutions and drive progress on some of the world’s most challenging problems. At Blackbaud, we’re honored to be a part of the conversation and grateful for the opportunity to represent the voices of the approximately 35,000 customers we serve in this community. It was a privilege – and responsibility I don’t take lightly –  to be able to voice some of the concerns and priorities our customers have shared with me while at Davos, and an honor to be seated alongside some of them present in person. 

The theme of WEF2018 centered on building a shared future in a fractured world. In a world experiencing significant global challenges and uncertainty, forces that unify and create space for conversation, collaboration and dialogue are vital.  And, that’s what WEF offered up this week.  A place where people listened more than they talked, where dialogue and discourse was had with a mind towards solution, not towards the problem, and where the Social Development Goals (SDGs) continue to be a north star in our efforts to do good. 

As the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, we at Blackbaud believe that achieving the SDGs will take not just tremendous commitment, good will and innovation, but also something we, as a community, don’t talk about as much: a strong social economy, the space where social good is produced regardless of which sector it originates from. We are focused on three critical pillars to help strengthen the social economy so it can drive social impact at the levels of efficiency and effectiveness necessary to accomplish the SDGs: unleashing the power of data, pursuing radical collaboration, and catalyzing individual impact. 

These themes were central to nearly every conversation I participated in over the week.  

Our ability to harness and leverage data was a hot topic.  In many of the discussions, it was highlighted as the main component missing from the work being done to date. With so much good work being done by organizations, institutions and individuals around the world every day, we urgently need ways to measure impact of these efforts on the SDGs  This is exactly why Blackbaud has integrated the Global Goals taxonomy into our products, so that so that organizations and corporations pursuing social good can actually map outcomes against this shared roadmap, and we can gain deeper insight into the many different ways that these ambitious goals for good are being tackled. 

Second, the necessity of being radically collaborative was brought to stark light for me. When we come together, we can find real, meaningful opportunities for progress.  It’s still apparent that across much of the social good community, we’re still working in silo’s versus in a holistic connected way.  Duplication plus fragmentation plus an overlap of agendas is making achieving truly meaningful progress difficult. The SDGs are not a menu, they are roadmap.  That’s why I believe and have spoken passionately about the fact that the path to achievement of the SDGs hinges on radical collaboration.  There is a powerful and revolutionary role for collaboration to drive our growth, and in fact, the SDGs were designed to “encourage cross-sectoral, holistic approaches”.  By coming together as a social good community and working across SDGs, we are more likely to make a deep impact in achieving these ambition goals by 2030. 

There was also a lot of discussion around how we as a social good community can effectively engage communities (local, regional, or even national) and catalyze their impact. Today’s individual change-makers are passionate about doing good and come to the table with their own ideas.  They are not looking for organizations and corporations to define their priorities, and institutions and corporations are working to find better, more scalable ways to listen and engage. The most powerful, motivating, action driving conversations were those that brought the discussion down from 35,000 feet to what is actually needed at “ground zero.”  I was particularly reminded of this when I participated in The Day in the Life of a Refugee, a simulation experience hosted by the Crossroads Foundation.  I spent 45 minutes experiencing a minuscule of the stress, fear, anger, and anxiety that the over 65 million refugees worldwide experience over the (average of) 25 years they are displaced.  At the end, they asked each participate to write down specific actions we each could take to make a difference.  As a Board Member of the Women’s Refugee Commission, I found this experience to be an extraordinary way to bring the cause to light.  

This is just one example of the many “ground zero” experiences and conversations that Davos delivered.  Davos brings together people and organizations from every structure type, nation, passion – and when we come together, we can find real, meaningful opportunities for progress.  But of course, this is always true, whether at Davos or not.  And, while inspiring, the energy and insight of the past week represent just a tiny fraction of energy and insight spanning the global social good community.  So, I’m returning more energized than ever to listen, engage and collaborate with the incredible community of change agents for social good we have the honor of working with.   

Charleston Employees “Make Their Mark” on Blackbaud’s New World Headquarters

Since announcing plans for a new world headquarters last year, we’ve seen a number of exciting milestones and the building is really coming along. Recently, we included all of our Charleston employees in a significant milestone called the “Topping Out” beam signing. This marks when the final piece of steel is laid in the new building and it is commemorated by having the people who make our mission possible sign a part of the steel beam. We look forward to providing our employees a 360,000 square foot campus that cultivates collaboration, promotes disruptive innovation and inspires them to reach their full potential once it’s completed.

Our fundamental belief that the world will be a better place when good takes over is integral to our corporate culture. Working at Blackbaud means working with people who share a passion for doing good. We strive to create a high-energy and fun environment that challenges employees to advance social good science™ and be their best while embodying our values – We work as one. We bring heart. We invent possibilities. We expect the best. We give back.

Blackbaud wins big at Gainsight’s Pulse 2017!

Blackbaud was recognized by Gainsight, the leading customer success platform provider, with a Sally Award for Customer Success Excellence. Gainsight presented the award to Dorie Wallace and Esther Pomelo-Fowler, Blackbaud’s vice presidents of customer success, during Pulse 2017, the largest conference for the customer success industry with over 4,000 members of the community in attendance. This is a wonderful recognition and we’re beyond proud of our Customer Success team!


Blackbaud Recognized as one of Forbes America’s Best Mid-Size Employers 2017

Blackbaud ranked on the Forbes America’s Best Mid-Size Employers 2017 list for the second year in a row! Blackbaud was recognized in the IT/Internet software category alongside 24 other comparable leading companies, such as Esri, MathWorks, Hyland Software, World Wide Technology, Netsuite, and Homeadvisor. What’s most exciting about this award is that Blackbaud employees played a huge role in making this happen. Blackbaud employees and non-employees (who were asked to name companies they would refer) responded favorably about Blackbaud in the survey at a volume that elevated us into the top 301 midsize companies list.