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

  • by Catherine LaCour
  • Sep 21, 2018, 16:00 PM
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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: https://www.blackbaud.com/GlobalGoalsMapping. 

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 AnitaB.org.

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. 


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