Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits

The Foraker Group Blog

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, we play a critical role in the state’s economy both as major employers and as revenue generators.
Join us as we discuss the latest research on the economic impact of Alaska’s nonprofit sector. Learn how you can use the data to advocate for your organization as we highlight the five ways we in the nonprofit sector are doing our part to meet the challenges of the state’s economy. 

See you soon!: 
Space is limited. Please click on links above for details and to register.Interested in a presentation for your community? Contact Kate Rose at or call 743-1201.

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.

  1. Nonprofits are a significant source of Alaska jobs. We often lose sight of this because nonprofits are not considered to be a single industry. When the state tracks jobs, it classifies them by industries – oil and gas, tourism, healthcare – not by the sector where the work originates – nonprofit, government, or for-profit. In fact, all three sectors are integrated, and a vibrant nonprofit community helps generate jobs, both directly and indirectly, in all the state’s industries. When nonprofits spend money on supplies, services, or payroll, it circulates around the state creating more jobs for Alaskans and their families. In 2015, nonprofits accounted for 17% of all employment in Alaska compared to 10% nationwide. The nonprofit sector directly employed 44,092 Alaskans. Counting indirect and induced effects, nonprofits were responsible for sustaining 66,700 jobs in the state. These jobs translate into $3.8 billion in total income generated by the sector that ripples through our communities.

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:

  • Use the data to better understand the economic impact of Alaska nonprofits. Then do the math and apply the data to your own organization.
  • Use the stories in the report as a reminder that the sector is a place of innovation and opportunity if we nurture rather than stifle it. Then write your own story.
  • Engage with each other as nonprofit leaders and with government and industry partners in finding solutions to our common challenges and strengthening what works for Alaska. Then do it again and again.
  • Use your position and your voice to stabilize our safety net, secure points of leverage, and collaborate to maximize our resources. Then engage your team to do the same.
  • Ask for a stable, long-term fiscal plan for Alaska to ensure a vibrant place for all Alaskans to work, grow, and engage. Then celebrate.

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

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.

  1. One word intention. In 2017, we focused on choosing one word to keep us grounded. I invite you again to commit to this practice. 2017 was about staying focused and not getting lost in ALL the policy changes. This year we still need to focus on our intentions as a sector and on our missions – specifically to stay connected to relationships that strengthen missions, that strengthen our connection to donors who have motivations beyond tax deductions, and that strengthen our connection to policy makers who understand the critical role our sector plays in a vibrant economy and a healthy democracy. Our intentions come from our core values. Our values drive our work. Let’s stay focused on living our intentions in 2018.
  2. Choral breathing. A useful metaphor in 2017 was the idea that we can sustain our energy if we borrow a brilliant tool from the arts. For those of you who have participated in a chorus or enjoyed a performance, you may have noticed the group’s ability to sustain a very, very long note. This is because of the technique of choral breathing. To make choral breathing work in our daily lives, we each get to take a breath as we need one, regroup, and re-engage – just not at the same time. We have to sustain the work and the way to do that is together. Sing your cause from the rooftops, take a break, rely on your team, sing again. Repeat. Together in 2018 we will let our voices be heard.
  3. Curiosity. With so much change, it could be easy to get discouraged or shut down. I invite you to savor the manta I used in 2017 — “curiosity will serve me.” Useful in so many circumstances, in 2018 we can choose to have a panic reaction or we can get curious and ask more questions. Let’s spend 2018 seeking to understand so we can build bridges to move us to a new place.
  4. Small experiments with radical intent. We learned a handful of years ago from our partners at EMCArts that the key to innovation was not betting the whole house on a theory but practicing what they called small experiments with radical intent. We shared this often in 2017, and we are embracing it as a “go-to practice” for our time. This practice invites us to run true experiments in which we harken back to our fifth-grade science projects to form a hypothesis, question our assumptions, design and run an experiment, reflect and learn from it in order to implement a positive shift. Around and around we go with incredible results of turning our environments into learning organizations that are practicing true innovation rather than random “good ideas.” In a world that needs us all to get to better results for the very complex problems we face, this practice can continue to serve us all in 2018.
  5. Public policy is not a luxury. In 2017, we jumped into the public policy arena with both feet and many of you joined us. Together we created a culture of advocacy in our organizations and among our peers. We prioritized our efforts. We organized. We educated our staff and our board. We engaged our donors. We formed coalitions. We stood up for each other’s missions. We found our collective voice. Many days I rejoiced at the efforts I saw across Alaska as board and staff leaders stood for their missions. Many days I said out loud, “if you are not active in public policy you are not doing your mission,” and every time we moved a little closer to amplifying each other’s voices for a stronger, better result. Our work has just begun, so in 2018 let’s keep our attention on the public policy that impacts our missions, our causes, and our communities.
  6. Overhead is mission. No apologies in 2017 and none now. Nonprofit workers need a living wage. Nonprofits need administrators, and fund development professionals, and marketing experts, and office assistants, and computers and phones, and staples, and paper, and light and heat. These items are not luxuries. They are not extras. They are mission. In 2017, we signed on to burst the overhead myth. We are going to keep at it until not only do the very people within our sector stop discounting the necessity for overhead, but more than a few in our funding community begin to fund unrestricted operations – because it is all mission.
  7. Missions are bigger than organizations. As noted many times, in many ways, the work we do is bigger than all of us, and it is bigger than any single agency. We focused on this topic deeply at our Leadership Summit in 2017 and we have much more work to do not just in understanding what this means, but in changing our organizational practices if we are going to make true headway in our work. Let’s take these efforts into our planning and into our board rooms in 2018. Let’s take it into our peer support groups and into our policy efforts. These efforts don’t have to be monumental, but they do have to be meaningful.
  8.  Support. Every month, every day. Getting and receiving support is a sign of strength in leadership. We have based our work on this mantra and we have seen the results in you. We are in this together and it is just far too much to do alone. May 2018 bring you new ways to give and receive support.

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:

  1. Our out of date website. Yes, we are excited to bring you a new website in 2018 with new tools to use, new ways to learn, easier navigation, and more ways to engage. Look for our launch in the spring.
  2. Old nonprofit data. Early this year, just in time for the new legislative season, we will have new economic impact data for Alaska. Every three years we embark on a deep dive into our economy to show the net result the sector plays in our Alaska life. This year, our audience is policy makers and our efforts will be to work with nonprofit leaders to get the word out that we are a powerful economic driver in Alaska, and we are part of all the solutions rather than a result of the cuts.
  3. Former definitions of winning. 2017 taught us a new definition of winning. We are leaving our old definitions as we craft our new policy agenda which we will release early this year. Our efforts at the federal, state, and local levels will focus on preserving the sector and the vital work each and every American relies on every day.
  4. Status quo of boards. Systemic discrimination, oversight, status quo – whatever the reason, our nonprofit boards do not represent the communities we serve. While we have made some efforts in the last 18 years to change this – on whole nothing has changed. In 2018, we are leaving our assumptions and old ways of working behind and are committed to raising the issue, creating new tools, and fostering new partnerships in an effort to see real change. Our missions are only as strong as the people at the table. And when we are not all at the table, we fail.
  5. Old policy and old rules. As 2017 drew to a close, Congress enacted sweeping tax reform. We fought to protect the nonprofit sector as it came under attack in 15 different aspects of the bill. In the end, we temporarily preserved the Johnson Amendment that will keep politics and dark money out of our charitable organizations, and we saved the unrelated business income tax redefinition would have caused many organizations to pay taxes on sponsorships, underwriting, and mission-based earned income. We also know that like all working Americans, there will be changes in how your taxes are calculated.  There are many who want you to take action on that now, but the reality is that we are all waiting on the IRS to enact regulations to tell us all how this will occur.  Like all laws, they need regulations to take effect. We are all waiting for these and trust me, no one yet has the scoop on what it will look like.   Additionally, our effort to fully preserve the 100-year tradition of incentivizing charitable giving for   most Americans has now changed. It is true you can all still itemize, but many of you simply will not because it won’t make sense to do so. While we can only estimate the long-term impact to the sector, we have watched as people have experienced a “fear of missing out” phenomenon that inspired new or increased giving at the end of 2017. This frenzy of year-end giving could be happening for all the best reasons, which are that donors truly care about the results nonprofits create. But if the motivation was strictly tax abatement, then 2018 and beyond will prove to be rough. We stand with the nonprofit sector to continue to be donor focused.  To know that as we leave old rules behind there will be new rules soon enough.  We urge you to stay informed, but don’t panic. We urge you to stay grounded in what matters most to your employees and to focus on the roots of philanthropy, which means “love of human kind.” Remember that only 22% of Alaskans itemized before so many were never motivated by tax incentives. Stay clear, don’t perpetuate more “fear of missing out.” We will navigate this together as the new rules come to light.

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:

  • deductibility of charitable contributions,
  • new excise taxes on selected nonprofits,
  • treatment of unrelated business income generated by charities, and
  • changes in the tax-exempt treatment of interest income from certain bonds issued by nonprofits.

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.





Lailani Cook
Administrative Assistant
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.

  1. Hold a clear vision. Stay focused. There is a lot of noise in the world around us. There is much we can worry about. And some days, I think the system we operate in is set to keep us distracted so we can’t make progress. At our worst, we are so distracted from what matters most that we work against each other, and we dilute our collective powerful message. Find your energy in your vision. Get clear with yourself and with your team. Grow the team and engage others in that vision. Know what success looks like without getting lost in how you get there. Trust me – the way you think you will get there will change. Agree as a team to pick two goals, not ten. Write one plan, not five. Pick one word as your guide to act as your beacon in the storm. Distraction will keep you busy, but busy doesn’t solve the challenges we face. Let 2018 be the year of clarity.
  2. Focus on understanding. Listen to learn and then listen again. Understanding requires context and context means we have to know ourselves and know our ecosystem. We have our organizational missions and we the greater causes where our missions connect. What is the context for both of these? Use your eyes, use your emotional intelligence, use more than your ears and listen for the data that informs our cause and our mission. Most of us are lost in a blizzard of data with very little information. We need to “confront the brutal facts” as Jim Collins reminds us in Good to Great so that we can understand what truly matters most. We need to understand and discern the difference between data and opinion to know where our Mission fits in a larger world – to know what we should do more of, and what we should stop doing. Let 2018 be the year of facts.
  3. Seek clarity. The daily list of to-dos, the packed calendars, the meetings, the phone calls, the EMAIL! It is a wonder we save people’s lives, protect our planet, create economic opportunity, provide healthcare, keep the lights and the heat going for thousands of Alaskans, not to mention put out fires, respond to children, and produce incredible art. Nonprofit leaders – you do it all. But I know, every day the ability to find clarity of purpose in the midst of minutia is a challenge. Some days we each do it better than the day before or the day to come. Clarity is just as much about rising from the minutia to know our “why” as it is about plowing into the minutia with clear intent to learn something on the other end. The minutia of life can be savored when it means the clarity of a small child’s face or the vividness of color in the sky, but in the workplace it can steal our joy and rob our energy. Let’s commit to one another that we will boldly state our “why” with clarity and bring each other up for air. Let 2018 be the year of intent and purpose.
  4. Build your agility muscle. It’s almost the New Year, let’s build our energy and our strength to respond and approach challenges in a new way. Like any effort to build something new, we need to take it slow and have support. Building your ability to be agile means moving in a way that lets go of old notions of “we always did it that way,” and sets us up to approach different challenges in different – and more productive – ways. The challenges on your path are not created equal. What is effective in solving one challenge using a best practice or an expert will not work on our most complex issues. Your agility training needs to ensure we are ready to ask better questions, engage more and different people at our tables and take small, calculated risks that allow us to learn new things in this new world. No workout is ever easy, but this new muscle will bring us the energy most of us need to hold on to our vision, provide new understanding and give us clarity of purpose. Let 2018 be the year of renewed strength.

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:

  • Create pressure on nonprofits to endorse or oppose candidates for public office.
  • Allow powerful donors to exert pressure on organizations to endorse or oppose candidates the donors prefer.
  • Make political donations – for the first time ever – tax-deductible when funneled through charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations.

Now is the time to contact Senator Murkowski & Representative Young.

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:

  • Join us for our Advocacy in Action call on December 13 at 9:00 am. Register here.
  • Sign up for our public policy alerts here.
  • GiveVoice (including history, resources, and links to statements, editorials, and op-eds from across the country)


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.