Lessons From Blackbaud’s Association With The NRA and Its Mission of Social Good | Joel Backon | 5 Min Read

July 19, 2022

The U.S. sees firsthand the trade-offs inherent in the experiment known as democracy. Bakers, event planners, cakemakers, theme park operators, and even software providers are in the cross-hairs as they navigate the meanings of their brands.

The timing of this discussion coincides with a TechCrunch article that called out Blackbaud for having the National Rifle Association (NRA) as a customer (the article was published a week after the Uvalde school shooting). While the details of the original article were somewhat inaccurate, the major point was clear: a company that claims they provide “Software solutions powering the entire social good community” had a customer that sells rifles and assault weapons to young people who shoot up schools. My informal survey of Blackbaud customers revealed that only one school out of ten contacted would reconsider their future relationship with Blackbaud given the school’s current commitment to their systems. From Blackbaud’s perspective, the notion of choosing customers based on the alignment of organizational philosophies seemed inequitable and non-inclusive. Those issues were central to the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case in 2018. How would you choose the vendors of your products and services?

Additionally, Blackbaud pointed out that many of their Texas customers viewed having the NRA on their customer list as a positive factor. Blackbaud has 40,000 customers, and one might expect that every political, social, and economic view is represented in that group. Does that mean that you should work exclusively with companies in alignment with your social responsibility philosophy? In a very polarized society, chances are that you will be making some compromises as you identify those enterprises that provide you with the most value for your scarce dollars.

What is social responsibility in the financial world and how does it impact independent schools? The Conversation defines social responsibility as “fostering an environment that combines fairness and positive social connections with opportunities for students to learn and model ways to be kind and include others.” But what about socially responsible schools? In the public sector, providing free breakfast and lunch is a social responsibility. In the independent school world, the term is more amorphous, igniting memories of “public purpose.” For several reasons, schools are still using fossil fuels for heat and electricity, disposing of thousands of pounds of uneaten food every year, and transporting students in gas-powered vehicles. One might argue that it’s difficult…

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Joel Backon

Joel Backon has been the Editor of Intrepid Ed News since its inception in January 2021, responsible for all educator content on the website. He joined the OESIS Network, owner of Intrepid, in 2019 as Vice President. Joel spent much of his career at Choate Rosemary Hall (CT) where for 27 years he held founding roles in Information and Academic Technology, as well as being a classroom teacher, curriculum designer, coach, dorm head, and student adviser. Prior to Choate, Joel spent 15 years in the printing and publishing industry educating printers on how to maximize their strengths and minimize weaknesses. He has crusaded to achieve consensus on the question of why we educate kids in an effort to meet the learning needs of every student.