Happy Thanksgiving…a week early.

In 2009, when I was serving as the President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter, I found myself in front of a group of 400 generous, deeply caring people.  We had gathered around the table for a meal, to break bread together, to say thank you. It struck me, at that moment, that for the members of AFP this annual celebration of generosity is the charitable community’s version of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is all about friends, family and tradition. It’s a time when we seek comfort in the same dishes our grandparents served, in the company of those we love. National Philanthropy Day—minus the turkey—is much the same, with our family comprised of funder and fundraiser alike, with donors committed to the communities where we live and work joining with the professionals who have helped them match passion with cause. And this doesn’t just mean individual donors. It also means the faces behind the many other organizations that provide critical funding in our communities, from foundations, corporations, small businesses, and government at all levels.

It is day for all of us who make up the ecosystem of good to pause and say thank you to each other.  Because none of us can go it alone.  We need commitment from all avenues, we need everyone at the table, collaborating for the future, each of us being agents of good but stronger because we’re there together, not going it alone.

That’s what I will be thinking as I join people from across my local community at our National Philanthropy Day in Charleston, SC.  I will look with pride as the leader of my own company welcomes us, serving not just as sponsor, but also as a representative of our long-standing commitment to giving back and as a board member at the International African American Museum. I will be thinking about AFP, whose more than 30,000 members represent causes every day and secure the funding that keeps the good work going.

I will be thinking of how thankful I am that we have the ability to act, to choose what matters to us, and to convene with others to drive positive change.

So wherever you stand in the ecosystem of good, know that today is for you. And if you happen to know fundraisers who deserve a thank you for all they do, share the following one-minute video with them.  I think it will make them smile.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


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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