Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits

One Word to Guide Your Resolutions

At Foraker, we have always been champions for the one-page strategic plan. We savor a clearly stated, motivational, and grounded document that offers a map and a compass. The map tells you about the future and the compass reminds you of your true North – your DNA – your core purpose and values. Time and again, we see the value of this tool in your toolbox. But not until recently had I considered the power of a single word as a planning guide.

Recently I was meeting with my peer support team from my own Catalyst experience and as we were going around the circle talking about the upcoming year and our goals, one of my colleagues honed in on it for us. “One word,” she challenged. New energy surfaced. We agreed to keep our short list of goals AND use a single word to act as our touch point for these goals. We quickly discovered the single word had to be teased out until we got it right. But “right” for each of us had similar ingredients that included: energizing, inspiring, and personal.

Simplicity in the midst of complexity – that’s a combination we relish at Foraker. Life is indeed complicated and can be quickly overwhelming with the magnitude of our missions at stake. So why make it more overwhelming or difficult? One word. One page. One set of goals. Whichever works for you we encourage you to make 2017 the “year of the plan.” There is a lot in front of us this year – which plan will bring you forward with purpose?

We have been making plans at Foraker as well. I want to share some of the highlights with you and together we will explore how we get them done in 2017 and beyond.

As I mentioned in past newsletters, Foraker has recently adopted a strategic plan to guide our work for the next six years. Our plan is articulated through the layers of our theory of change. Check out the full plan including the key objectives here. If I had one word to capture the energy of this plan and remind me of what is woven throughout every goal, it would be the word Together. Each goal requires our collective and inclusive energy to achieve success. I hope you will join us. The short-term goals in the plan include:

Short term Goals (2016-2021)

  • FOCUS and ENGAGEMENT: Use the lenses of sustainability on ourselves to focus on our resilience (This goal is about Foraker being stable and resilient in order to best serve the sector as each organization navigates the next many years. Our stability means we can serve more organizations with more depth, with greater understanding, and fewer barriers while keeping cost as low as possible for you.)
  • INFORMATION: Analyze and provide data and information that strengthens the voice, power, and influence of the nonprofit sector (This goal is about Foraker doing research, finding the truth among the clutter of click-bait theories and polls, and gathering data that strengthens the ability of nonprofit leaders to do their work.)
  • KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER: Provide nonprofits with the knowledge and tools they need to turn data into action for their own organizations and communities (This goal is about creating tools and opportunities for our sector to break down barriers that hold us all back, including lack of knowledge, access, and understanding. This goal is about taking action for long-overdue issues and getting the data and tools we need to do it together.)
  • ADAPTABILITY: Increase connectivity internally and externally to strengthen networks and peer support (This goal is about connecting leaders in our sector across the state, both the cohorts we create and connecting to the ones that already exist. Peer support is the biggest determinant in success and we are focused on strengthening these natural networks.)
  • STRATEGIC STRUCTURES: Expand our ability internally and externally to strengthen missions and promote effective systems change, both small and large scale. (This goal is about new ways of thinking, including focusing on systems over structures, supporting movement building that strengthens the work of the sector and identifying and improving structures that work.)
  • SUSTAINABLE SECTOR: Amplify the collective voice of the sector for positive results with decision makers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. (This goal is about our efforts to grow a culture of philanthropy within organizations. It is also about our emphasis on the role of public policy to forge critical relationships around regulatory and legislative changes necessary to advance the sector. This goal is about our ability to partner with you to understand the gaps in our communities so we can bring our collective voice to common concerns. And it’s about dispelling the myths of our sector while highlighting our impact.)

Which goal is exciting to you? Let us know and we can work together to achieve it.

Another set of goals we use is our public policy priorities. We set these each year and while I don’t have the final list as of this writing, I can offer you some highlights. We promise to publish the full list as soon as it is finalized in mid-January. Check our website for the latest updates throughout the year. My one word for this set of goals is “amplify.” The ability to take action and make change occurs when we amplify each other’s voices with clarity and commitment for all Alaskans.

Foraker’s public policy priorities in 2017 will include:

  • Challenge local sales and property taxation of Alaska nonprofits
  • Lead, convene, and advocate for the sector as it faces state fiscal instability
  • Catalyze and convene partners to ensure everyone in Alaska is counted in the 2020 Decennial Census and that annual American Community Survey (ACS) estimates are accurate for Alaska communities
  • Activate the sector and communicate potential changes to the federal Charitable Giving Incentive
  • Activate the sector and communicate potential changes to federal programs that cause significant challenges to the effectiveness of the nonprofit sector to deliver services
  • Ensure the best possible outcome for implementation of new regulatory changes to the State Single Audit threshold
  • Monitor and provide educational resources regarding the federal Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Remain at the forefront of Alaska nonprofit research for economic impact and nonprofit pay equity

And finally, 2017 would not be complete without noting two significant annual goals:

  1. Pick.Click.Give. We hope all of your plans include supporting and promoting Pick.Click.Give. Whether you are on the list or not, growing individual philanthropy in our state helps us all. There is a great partnership of supporters who can help you be successful whether you are an organization who is part of the program or an individual Alaskan who is a donor. Welcome Sofia Fouquet as the new Pick.Click.Give. Manager. If you haven’t met Sofia yet I encourage you to reach out to her through Foraker is committed to helping nonprofits success in this program. Take a class with us. All Pick.Click.Give. classes are free. Click here for a list.
  2. Mark your calendars for April 3-4 for the upcoming Leadership Summit. Every two years we go all out to bring the nonprofit sector together for two days of exploration, self-discovery, and connection. Instead of one word, I have three to describe the 2017 summit: Stable, Resilient, Adaptive.

This year, as in in the past, we promise to provide Tools to Take Us Forward. This summit will be marked not just by envisioning new possibilities, but also by laying out a course for turning our dreams into reality. We will explore ways of working that are anchored by skills and tools we already know and enhanced by new ones that will take us where we need to go. It will be a time to look again at what makes us resilient. This is our charge as nonprofit leaders – to balance the need for stability with the search for creativity and innovation in how we serve. When we do this we are able to take measured risks, without being reckless. We jump with strategic intention.

Join us as we look through our lenses of sustainability with new clarity – allowing us to both keep an eye on solid ground while we view fresh perspectives on what comes next. For a listing of the guest speakers who will bring some of the best thinking available on innovative solutions to the challenges of leading today’s nonprofit, check out the Leadership Summit page on our website. You will also find more information there and a link to registration. We are still working on a few more details for the summit so check the website frequently for new information, including individual session descriptions.

There is a lot to do in 2017. I encourage you all to get a clear plan. One page. One word. One set of goals. If you are stuck, call us. If you are motivated to share your excitement with us, or if you need support, reach out to us. Through all of this, my word is “energy.” I am committed to focusing energy for the greatest results for our sector here in Alaska. My energy is not boundless, but it is dedicated and resilient.

I would love to hear your word. What will keep you grounded and moving in your right direction in 2017?