March 1 Anchorage
March 27 Kodiak
April 9 Homer
April 10 Fairbanks
April 12 Wasilla
April 19 Statewide webinar
May 2 Juneau
We are proud to help the Nonprofit Finance Fund raise the voices of nonprofit leaders through the State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey. This survey – the biggest national sampling of our sector – collects data about the health and challenges of U.S. nonprofits into an accessible, evidence-based illustration of our ability to help the communities we all serve. It’s a powerful platform for nonprofits large and small, urban and rural, across sub-sectors and geographies. Its findings are widely used and cited by nonprofit leaders and boards, funders, advocates, policy advisors, media, researchers, and many others.
In 2015, the NFF survey found that, despite the U.S. economic recovery, vulnerable communities were going without because nonprofits couldn’t meet increasing demand. Nonprofit leaders reported persistent worries about financial sustainability – fewer than half ended the previous year with a surplus; more than half said they had three months or less of cash-on-hand.
How comfortable is your rainy-day fund? Does anything hinder your organization from doing all the good it sets out to do? What should the country know about what we need to successfully do our work?
We at Foraker are proud to help NFF reach as many nonprofit leaders as possible, and to help share the survey’s findings as a resource for everyone.
Please take the survey and raise your organization’s voice.
Alaska’s nonprofit sector represents a wide variety of organizations that provide public service and have an impact on the lives of nearly everyone living in the state. Although most Alaskans do not think of nonprofits as an economic powerhouse, you know that we play a critical role in the state’s economy both as major employers and as revenue generators. No industry in Alaska can prosper without the nonprofit sector. We provide both a financial and social return on investment by leveraging public and private resources. We are part of the healthcare, utilities, fisheries, and oil and gas industries, and provide essential services such as firefighting, early child care, basic utilities, housing, and food security — just to name a few.
Nonprofits are the safety net across Alaska. Every Alaskan is the beneficiary of a nonprofit because our work is woven into the fabric our communities. At the same time, nonprofits can’t do all that needs to be done with diminishing support — financial or otherwise. When policy makers make financial decisions, create rules and regulations, or develop programs, we are consistently urging them to remember that every dollar cut from the nonprofit sector will result in higher costs in the long run. Indeed, each decision has an impact on the health of the sector and, thereby, the wellbeing of every Alaskan. It is a challenging time in our state — our resources are limited, our safety net is thin, and the tendency to cut rather than invest is high. Today, we can change that story.
Part of changing the story is to gather and share new and better information. To that end, we are excited to present the latest research on the economic impact of Alaska’s nonprofit sector. Every three years we embark on this analysis to better inform policy makers, industry, and nonprofit leaders about Alaska’s nonprofit sector. This is our fourth economic impact report. It required an enormous amount of research to produce because no single source exists for comprehensive data on the sector at either the state or federal levels. We are confident that we are using the best and most trusted sources available for both raw data and research from the field. Those sources include the IRS, State of Alaska Department of Labor, U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Institute of Social and Economic Research, and our new partners at the Center for Economic Development, a program of the UAA Business Enterprise Institute. The data in this report is from 2015-2016, the last years when complete data sources were available. While we make every attempt to replicate the data from one report to another, the data sources do shift as better information is available.
New this year, the main report is written specifically for policy makers. This allows all of us to use the information with those who are making decisions about federal, state, and local government funding and policies that impact the sector. As a nonprofit leader, we want you to use this report in your work and in your conversations. For this purpose, we hope you will read the full report and spend some time with it. We are taking this report and additional information around the state to meet with nonprofit, business, and government leaders and, I hope, with you. Until then, here are some highlights.
Of course, we know people are curious about how many nonprofits we have so… drum roll… we now have 5,765 nonprofits in Alaska. In our last report, we noted that the number of nonprofit organizations in Alaska had fallen significantly between 2007 and 2013. In large part this was the result of a 2010 IRS rule that disbands nonprofits if they fail to submit the tax form 990 for three years in a row. (Note: religious congregations are exempt from this filing requirement.) While continued enforcement of the three-year rule is resulting in nonprofits dissolving, the introduction of the IRS nonprofit filing form 1023 EZ in 2014 simultaneously made it easier to form a nonprofit with roughly 99 percent of all applications accepted by the IRS. These two trends are offsetting each other, resulting in flat growth. New data shows that between 2013 and 2016, the total number of nonprofits in Alaska stayed about the same at roughly 5,700 organizations. Of these, the number of 501(c)(3) organizations decreased by about 350, offset by an increase in other nonprofit classes. The result is that one nonprofit exists for every 130 Alaskans as of 2016, compared to one for every 100 residents in 2010.
Far more important than how many nonprofits we have in our state is the impact of what they do. Given the state of Alaska’s economy, nonprofits are making changes today to increase that impact– becoming more creative, spurring innovation, and looking for efficiencies. In this report we highlight five ways that show how we’re doing our part.
If nonprofits were treated as their own industry, they would be the second largest source of non-government employment behind oil and gas in Alaska. Nonprofits are the largest source of employment in many rural communities. In three rural census areas in Western Alaska, nonprofits make up over 40% of all direct employment. Alaska’s major industries — oil and gas, mining, seafood, and the visitor industry — all benefit from nonprofit organizations. Industry and trade associations, convention and visitor bureaus, oil spill response organizations, and aquaculture associations are some examples of nonprofits making Alaska’s industries stronger.
2. While Alaska’s nonprofits are resourceful and innovative, and many struggle to meet the increasing demand for services as state and local governments cut programs and federal funding remains flat. Nonprofits are doing their best to carry out their critical role in the community. Their use of earned income, private philanthropy, and limited public resources is judicious. Every day nonprofits work to maximize and leverage each resource. This is a public/private partnership that must continue.
3. Nonprofits work hand-in-hand with government to deliver essential services. Federal, state, local, and tribal governments often contract with nonprofits to perform key responsibilities efficiently and effectively. Particularly in rural and unincorporated areas, nonprofit organizations deliver a variety of public services that are normally associated with government – like public safety, water and sanitation, fire service, and workforce development. This social safety net strengthens the fabric of Alaska communities. This is the time to infuse government resources into nonprofit organizations to maintain critical public services.
4. The economic engine of philanthropy from foundations, corporations, and individuals coupled with Alaska’s high rate of volunteerism has a powerful influence on programs, infrastructure, education, and jobs across Alaska. At the same time, local, state, and federal policies have a profound impact on philanthropy as does any financial investment from government. Each donation leverages another. We need to be realistic and excited about the possibilities for growth, while understanding that philanthropy alone cannot replace the role of government. To increase Alaska’s civic engagement and private investment, we need to work together to encourage — not stifle —philanthropy of all kinds.
5. Prosperous economies and healthy communities create a rich quality of life. As a partner to local governments and industry, Alaska nonprofits provide essential services like medical care, housing, and utilities. Nonprofits also bring us joy and purpose through art, religious and cultural expression, education, and recreation. Let’s celebrate nonprofits for caring for our people, our pets, and our planet. Together, we can foster healthier and more prosperous communities.
Nonprofits, like all other businesses, want a stable and healthy economy that ensures all of our communities thrive. Together we have an opportunity to strengthen the state through the nonprofit sector. As nonprofit leaders, we must be ready to work together to further strengthen what is already strong, and redesign what needs work. We must partner with government, business, and with each other to ensure healthy missions.
Again, I encourage you to use this report to stand for your mission and stand for the sector. Specifically:
Alaskans love to be unique, and this report highlights all the ways we can be proud of our work and of our impact on the state. I know each and every day, for every amazing story that we tell, there are unceasing hours of labor, determination, and perseverance. We know that great missions require intentional effort. We don’t always get it right, nobody does. What we hope for at Foraker is that we are learning, growing, and putting our tools to work. This report is one of those tools. We look forward to hearing how you use it.
To be sure every Alaskan is counted in both the 2020 Census and the annual American Community Survey (ACS), we all need to step up and do our part. To help accomplish this task, Foraker has pulled together a diverse group of Alaska organizations to address critical elements that are necessary for an accurate count. The Alaska Census Working Group has pinpointed issues that could result in undercounting, especially in rural areas. To learn more about the activities of the working group, visit this new page on our website. If you have ideas or comments on how to achieve accurate counts in the both the 2020 Census and the ACS, or if you want to know more about the working group, contact Mike Walsh, Vice President/Director of Public Policy, at 907-388-5561 or email@example.com.
One of my favorite ways to end a full day of facilitation is to ask everyone in the room what they will take with them and what they will leave behind because it no longer serves them. This round-the-room exploration is often a telling moment for what has moved people throughout the day – and more telling about what will stick moving forward. To launch us into 2018, I offer my own version of what we are taking with us from 2017 and what we at Foraker will leave behind as we stand with you in 2018.
2017 ushered in a new federal administration, a state in fiscal disarray, and a sector left to wonder how we would manage it all as we worked diligently every day to serve our communities. You persevered, you endured, you were brilliant. Every day nonprofit leaders did ordinary and extraordinary things to move missions forward. Along the way, we shared with you a few ideas to bolster your efforts. I invite us all to take these eight mantras with us into 2018.
So, as we prepare for 2018, and we take these eight mantras with us, we know the things Foraker will leave behind to make space for what is new and improved. In 2018, we say so long to:
As we go into 2018, we are curious, what will you take with you from 2017 and what will you leave behind?
As we prepare for the holiday, we know many of you have questions about the current tax bill’s implications on the nonprofit sector. Below is some helpful information to know our starting point in 2018. Foraker will remain a resource to you as we navigate the changes together.
To learn more about the bill, read Nonprofit Quarterly’s article What Nonprofits Can Expect in the GOP Tax Bill.
The article outlines several things to watch for, including:
Thanks to the National Council of Nonprofits for creating this matrix that outlines the components in the tax bill that impacts nonprofits.
Please stay in touch with us. We look forward to standing beside you in the new year.
We are thrilled to have two new staff join our team. Monica Garcia-Itchoak has joined our team as a Lead Capacity Builder – she will be around the state working with our Partners on leadership support, collaboration, and civic engagement. Lailani Cook is our new Administrative Assistant – she will be behind the scenes coordinating the services you need and will be the friendly voice ready to help you when you call.
Monica Garcia – Itchoak
Lead Capacity Builder
Monica has over 26 years of nonprofit leadership with 16 years dedicated to the museum industry in Chicago and New York. In 2010, she relocated to Alaska to join the Anchorage Museum as the Director of Education and Public Programs. Since then, she has been an independent consultant and continues to participate on the Board of Directors at the Pratt Museum and Museums Alaska. She is an alumna of Leadership Anchorage (a program of the Alaska Humanities Forum) and Foraker’s Catalyst for Nonprofit Excellence program. Monica is dedicated to staying curious, lifelong learning, and mobilizing teams around collaborative ideas.
Originally from Hawaii, Lailani and her family moved to Alaska on military orders in 2013. Lailani received a Bachelor’s in Music Education from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2017. Her experience with nonprofits in Alaska has primarily been with organizations that specialize in the arts, such as: Girls Rock Camp Alaska, the Alaska Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Alaska Chapter of the National Association for Music Educators, and the Alaska Fine Arts Academy. Being a part of the successes and struggles of these nonprofits are what led her to adapt her career goals to working towards a better future for Alaska’s nonprofits, especially those that focus on the importance of conserving the arts.
December is a strange mix in Alaska of extreme dark and the promise of new light on the Solstice. It is a time of reflection in a cozy curling-up space along with frenetic efforts to wrap up projects, connect with donors, and find time for joyful celebrations. It is a time of deep gratitude and wonderful surprises. I take all of this in and reflect on the fullness of the year with equal amounts of wondering “How did we get here so fast?” and “What’s next?”
So as December engulfs us, I am thinking about how we take the lessons from our year and bring them forward to light our way into 2018. At Foraker, 2017 has been a year of change. We have said hello and good-bye to wonderful staff. We have celebrated graceful transitions on our boards. We have created some new programs to engage nonprofit board, staff, and volunteers across the state, and we have willingly and strategically jumped into a public policy agenda. 2018 will be an equally focused year in public policy and we hope you are finding your voice as we stand for the nonprofit sector and its vital role in our democracy and in our economy.
It is an unprecedented time in our country where often the definition of “winning” is about keeping the structures of civil society in place. This is true with our efforts to leave the Johnson Amendment intact and preserve a 100-year tradition of tax incentives for charitable giving. The list is long on issues and processes that are not broken, but may need refining. There is also an equally long list of very broken systems that enable division, inequity, and fear – that make our work more critical and the path longer toward anything that looks like progress.
In 2018, we join you in knowing that there is so much at stake for our sector and the work that impacts life every day in America. We know you are working on the ground to meet your missions. At Foraker, we are working on the issues that connect us all like ensuring an accurate count in the 2020 census, strengthening our partnership as an economic driver in our communities, and building our ability to engage charitable donors in a meaningful way. We will also continue to focus on the rules that govern our work. Collectively and individually, we are going to need lots of energy in 2018.
So what brings you energy? We teach in our Certificate for Nonprofit Management program the concept of the VUCA world. VUCA, a term developed by the US War College, stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This is not a new concept, but an apt way to describe our current reality. I don’t know about you, but this concept, while incredibly helpful in putting words to what is occurring, does not bring me energy. Instead, I am buoyed by the reframe of Bob Johansen who reminds us that to live in a VUCA world we need to adapt. His words instead are: vision, understanding, clarity, and agility. I encourage you to get connected to both of these concepts. In the meantime, I offer these four techniques as a way to find our footing as we gather the energy to lead into 2018 together.
As we come into the new light of the year, I invite you to pick up your VUCA tools and lead into 2018 with peace in yourself, peace in your work, and peace with each other. We are gratefully in this work together.
The House and Senate have passed separate versions of tax reform (see a comparison chart here). The difference between the bills must be negotiated in what’s called a conference committee made up of a dozen or more Representatives and Senators. We write asking for your help in convincing Senator Murkowski and Representative Young, as members of the tax reform conference committees, to preserve nonprofit nonpartisanship and to reject any changes to the Johnson Amendment.
Each bill contains multiple provisions that would harm the ability of charitable nonprofits to advance our missions. The most damaging is Section 5201 of the House-passed bill; it would radically change the longstanding, vital protection in law for nonpartisanship of charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations, known as the Johnson Amendment. Section 5201 would:
Here is a sample script for this important message:
“I’m a constituent and I’m calling in opposition to a very harmful provision in the tax bill that would weaken the Johnson Amendment and politicize charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations against our wishes. The harmful provision is Section 5201 of the House-passed tax bill that is now in a conference committee with the Senate. It is imperative that Senator Murkowski/Representative Young understand that the Johnson Amendment language in the House bill must be stripped from the final bill. Thank you.”
Opportunities to learn more:
Calling all new Executive Directors (0-3 years in the position)! Are you interested in working with an experienced mentor and a network of peers while exploring governance, financial management, and planning? Looking to cultivate a more effective relationship with your board? Apply for the Executive Leadership Initiative – a program designed to build on your strengths and tackle the challenges of running a successful nonprofit. The deadline to apply is December 15.