Billing itself as the “leading cloud software company driving social good,” Blackbaud counts the NRA as a client receiving its highest level of attention and engagement, raising more than $ 1 million a year from the infamous gun industry lobbyist. The two have been in business since 1997, according to internal documents seen by TechCrunch, and recently marked 25 years together. It is classified under “Cause and Cure” and “Civil Liberties” internally. Blackbaud provides the NRA with fundraising, grantmaking, and other organizational support services. With records showing recurring annual payments to Blackbaud of at least $1 million, the NRA is one of the few clients (less than 0.1%) that the company designates as “Enterprise Strategic” and gives them white-collar treatment:
Individually tailored approach for each customer with highest ARR and highest impact: strategic onboarding and implementation, and then regular executive partner meetings and other proactive engagement with direct GM involvement, supported by a highly strategic individual success plan.
This level of service naturally encompasses elements included in other levels, such as “managing sentiment”, direct engagement with clients, targeting cohorts for outreach and fundraising campaigns, etc. In other words, the NRA isn’t just using Blackbaud as a payment processor or accounting solution, it’s a deep, collaborative partnership. Neither Blackbaud nor the NRA responded to requests for comment. It must be said that objectively speaking, lobbyists for Second Amendment rights can be and are considered by many to support civil liberties. But the NRA is best known for its macabre and cynical obsession with getting guns and assault weapons into the hands of as many as possible, with as few restrictions as possible on the weapon or the person. Their influence is directly tied to the reduction or obstruction of even the lightest gun control laws. Whether and how it is ethical, as an organization that supports civil liberties, to do business with the NRA is a complicated question, and one that need not be answered here, because the level of involvement between it and Blackbaud is clearly contrary to the latter’s own self-declared one. . priorities Blackbaud speaks loudly of his commitment to social good and ESG, or environmental, social and governance issues. And, in fact, he promotes and engages with numerous laudable institutions and efforts. Blackbaud’s donation goals: Gun rights are not listed. He is careful, like many organizations, not to make statements easily identifiable as political in nature, but instead focuses on the principles involved. And nowhere does the company state that the fight against weapons proliferation is among its priorities. However, it is difficult not to feel a deep hypocrisy in statements like this. “Our hearts go out to the victims of the horrific acts of violence in our nation,” and simultaneously to the NRA, which it helps fight for the right to commit such acts as efficiently as possible and without any cumbersome paperwork. But you won’t find the NRA on the list of organizations Blackbaud suggests visiting or supporting, or the company taking millions from the gun advocate. In fact, you won’t find the NRA anywhere on the site as a customer, donation recipient, recommended charity, or in any form that I can see; searches also appear empty. Though internally, Blackbaud matches donations to the NRA Foundation, as well as charities and support groups. In an email to employees, Blackbaud’s CEO wrote after the Uvalde mass shooting that “I share your shock, anger and grief at the series of horrific and violent acts in the US.” and under the title “What Blackbaud is doing”. he listed a victims’ fund to which he donated. There is no mention of the NRA being more lucrative than 99.9 percent of its other clients and whether that presents any kind of moral or professional conundrum. Again, narrowly defining civil rights and excluding firearms from the category altogether is not the idea; it just seems unethical to publicly support victims of gun violence while privately supporting and receiving support from the NRA. In fact, the Uvalde School District is also a Blackbaud client, a source inside the company said, following the Everfi acquisition. In internal discussion threads seen by TechCrunch, employees express dismay at that latest development and that Blackbaud matches support to the NRA. While one executive explains that this is seen as a matter of allowing free choice, he fails to mention that the NRA is one of the company’s main clients, something that employees do not appear to be aware of. In 2020, TechCrunch reported that Blackbaud also counted far-right organizations the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Security Policy as clients. Both remain active users of the service, with Heritage producing an ARR of $169K, putting it in the second-highest tier of service, with a “highly personalized approach.” As I wrote then, Heritage “has been behind lobbying efforts against climate change action, equal rights for LGBTQ Americans, and immigration modernization efforts. He has worked on behalf of the oil and tobacco industries, opposed health care reform, and recommended the likes of Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt to the administration.” The CSR focuses on anti-Muslim propaganda, promoting ideas like “Sharia supremacists” infiltrating Hollywood. Such clients have prompted employees of the cloud services company to call on Blackbaud to leave these and other companies whose actions contradict the idea of supporting social good, according to a company source. But unlike the recent conflict at Salesforce, where employees cited co-founder Marc Benioff’s prominent progressive stances on many issues to justify ending business with the NRA, Blackbaud’s leadership reportedly harbors less political leanings.