Today, on International Women’s Day, I’m grateful, proud, realistic and hopeful.

I tried to pick just one word that encapsulates what I’m thinking, but I just can’t, especially when I consider the incredible array of women interwoven in the fabric of my life and the many wonderful (and challenging) realities we all face.

So I have picked these four words as orienting themes as I reflect on life – as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, volunteer, board member, social change advocate and business colleague.

Today, I am grateful…

for the women who came before me, who secured my right to vote, who literally fought for me to have a voice and showed me – directly and indirectly – that each of us regardless of gender have an important role to fulfill in our society.  I am grateful for my mother, Sally Keen, who showed me the breadth and diversity of the world at a young age, and – alongside my father – raised my sisters and me to make a difference through whatever we chose to do, to have a voice, to participate.

Today, I am proud…

of the many achievements made by the smart women I get to work with every day, both at my workplace (which is 50% female, putting it 20% ahead of the average tech company) and in the field of philanthropy.  I am proud of Amy Lucia and Sally Ehrenfried (who share my passion for “business doing good” atour company and in the world), of Robbe Healey and Andrea McManus (both who served as Chair of AFP International), of Amy Wolfe and Ritu Sharma (bringing next gen leadership to their nonprofit CEO roles), and of Kat Morgan and Quinetha Fraser (who are uncompromising in the way they serve and give, never losing sight of the importance of bringing every form of diversity to the conversation).

Today, I am realistic…

that only some women have the advantages I take for granted every day.  Safety, education, vote, voice, financial independence, even basic control over their lives.  I am realistic that this isn’t just the case for women in developing nations.  It also happens in my own community, my own country.  I am realistic (and sad) that we have a long way to go.

Today, I am hopeful…

that we will make a difference because women are leading the way in philanthropy, showing the power of giving, serving and driving social change. As the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lily Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University tells us through its research, women are more likely to make charitable contributions, volunteer and influence giving in their families.  Right here in my own community, there is no better example than Anita Zucker, who invests her visionary leadership, time, exceptional smarts, charitable donations and unwavering personal energy in improving the state of education through collaborative initiatives.

I am hopeful that we will make a difference because women are leading the way in fundraising, putting their professional savvy front and center to ensure critical causes have critical funding.  An incredible 74% of the 32,000 members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (the world’s largest organization of its kind) are women.

I am hopeful that even though we have too much need and wonder at times why we haven’t gotten further, that we will make a difference, we will improve conditions for women, sparked through the work of both men and women who care and understand that a diverse world is a stronger world, that disenfranchising people weakens instead of strengthens.

Please join me, in realism and in hope. We have work to do.


Rachel Hutchisson is the vice president of corporate citizenship and philanthropy at Blackbaud, headquartered in Charleston, SC.  She is responsible for the company’s global corporate citizenship efforts, a role that allows her to leverage her 20+ years of experience of working with nonprofit partners.  She is a member of the board of directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International, the Giving Institute (producers of Giving USA), and the Coastal Community Foundation.  She is also a Past President of the AFP SC Lowcountry chapter. Rachel is a graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.  A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she is a Renaissance Weekend participant and was the recipient of the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Influential Women in Business Rising Star Award.  Rachel is an avid soccer fan and spends far too much time driving to remote parts of the state to watch her children play.  Connect with Rachel on Twitter at @RachelHutchssn or on LinkedIn.

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