Are you new to your job or still feeling like everything is changing so much it feels new all the time? Are you feeling more alone in your decision-making right now? Do you see the possibilities for change but need a thought partner to explore ideas in a safe space? These are just some of the reasons nonprofit leaders are seeking our mentoring and coaching services. Want to join them? We are ready with a pool of highly qualified and seasoned professionals who can help you to:
Our coaches and mentors are available through distance delivery – allowing for flexibility, statewide accessibility, and affordability. Length of support is based on your needs and goals.
Contact us to request a mentor.
Workforce shortages. Government contracting shortfalls and unacceptably late payments. Rapid program expansion to meet increasing demands. Financial uncertainty based on the end of pandemic relief and no restart yet of what’s next. These are the most common issues we hear from so many of you every day. For sure, the last two years have created a “new normal” and all our workplaces are scrambling to adapt and continue delivering our missions. Part of that process means dealing with challenges that often feel bigger than us and harder to understand, which is the right next step. Indeed, tackling these issues is a step-by-step adventure rather than just one big leap.
We see you – we hear you. While no perfect tools exist for every challenge you face, we do want to show you a few items in the Foraker toolkit that might help. Of course, we are ready to walk with you through these and many others to help on your journey. Give us a call.
As you explore these tools, help your board, volunteers, and staff be as strategic as possible to avoid simple band-aids, which in the end only exacerbate the challenges. That’s not easy, so when you are making decisions, we invite you to be curious, engage with your team, and ultimately do what’s right for your mission. And remember – don’t just create plans, live them!
Often it’s the lack of a plan that causes false starts or feeling stuck. There is no one-size-fits-all planning tool, but the right plan at the right elevation can help move your organization while engaging and even energizing your team. Many boards became disconnected or overwhelmed during the pandemic and staff are searching for new energy to refill their stores. Engaging in planning is more than simple having a plan at the end – it’s the act of creating it. Make the space. Take the time. You can find ways we can support your planning here with a few highlights below:
It seems more the norm every day that government is slow to pay on contracts with us as their essential partners, or their expectations of work far exceed any intent to pay at all. This is both an immediate issue and requires a larger strategic response. Or maybe you received federal pandemic relief to retain your staff and save your programs but now you are asking where you go from here. Or perhaps your business model is so different because of program growth, new partnerships, or unforeseen opportunities, it all needs a fresh look.
These factors, along with just good financial maintenance, may indicate it’s the right time to focus on your triple bottom line (mission, money, community impact). To engage in any of the tools listed below, we recommend gathering a small team of advisors to look closely at your financial and core practices as you confront the truth of your new reality. If you suspect your organization is approaching crisis, or is in it, you can use the results to gain clarity and spring into action. If, on the other hand, all is well, you can use these tools to help generate peace of mind and consider what comes next.
It has always been and still is true that our missions are bigger than any one organization. The last two years have solidified for so many that the challenges we face can only be solved when we work together. Perhaps that is the gift of this time – there is more interest and readiness to work collaboratively to address the persistent and systemic issues we face in our communities. We encourage you to embrace the philosophy of “nothing about us without us” as you form and strengthen your relationships. If we truly want to get to the heart of the issues, decisions about mission delivery should include those that are impacted the most. This is a new way of thinking for some of you and standard practice for others – for all of us there is room for improvement and next steps. We are better when we use our voices and our actions together.
No Foraker list of services would be complete without doing what we think is most important – support. We know that supported leaders are successful leaders. No matter your title or role, you are a leader in your work and support is a sign of strength. Support looks different for everyone so the key is to find the right fit for you. We offer many types of support from our cohort-based learning environments to one-one options that last a career or a few short visits. Here are just a few highlights and a story in this newsletter about our mentoring options. Know that we are ready to meet you where you are.
Whew! So many paths to choose from and this is just a few of the many options. Bottom line is you are not alone. We are ready to meet you where you are to move your mission forward. Not sure where to start? No problem, we are ready for that question, too. Call us at 907-743-1200. We have an experienced team that can discuss ideas with you in a confidential and judgment-free environment.
The way through is forward together. Let’s go.
A vendor for the Municipality of Anchorage mistakenly sent out property tax invoices recently to nonprofits that are exempt from the tax. Organizations that received the notices are advised that new invoices are being prepared that will show no tax due. If you have questions, call the Assessor’s office at 907-343-6500.
In June, we debuted our From Bias to Belonging℠ services and stated again our commitment to talking about and doing something about the very real challenges of diversity, equity, and belonging in the nonprofit sector. Indeed, every day in some way we are dedicated to looking deeper, to asking more questions, to listening more, and to learning more. That is our path, and this is the work – to take the lessons learned, turn them into new goals that stretch us, then achieve them, then tackle the next set, and the next.
At Foraker, we acknowledge that as a capacity builder we must constantly be learning what the data and our experiences tell us while we meet people and missions where they are. We talk internally about our work as both “upstream and downstream.” That means that we can do much “upstream” by engaging in public policy to change the systems and structures and by inspiring essential conversations on diversity and the inequities among nonprofit boards and staff. At the same time, we must continue to work “downstream” by providing services for those who are currently doing the work. And even in the downstream work, we raise issues of racial diversity, gender pay, and other forms of inequity to move the whole sector forward, pairing that with specific and focused From Bias to Belonging services. Indeed, downstream work does not mean quiet acceptance and acquiescence, it means the work toward equity and change starts in a different place.
Much of our approach depends on listening, observing, and understanding all the groups we work alongside. It also depends on turning data into action. When we started this journey, little data existed on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sector. Over time, data multiplied and disturbing trends persisted. Today, exceptional sources of reliable data are available that not only bring us essential information but also deep knowledge of the issues. For example, the research from BoardSource found in their Leading with Intent reports, which started in 1994, has yielded important information on boards that guides our work. Their most recent report, Leading with Intent: Reviewing the State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on Nonprofit Boards, highlights three key findings:
Exceptional data on nonprofit staffing is available from Building Movement Project in their reports Race to Lead and Race to Lead Revisited highlighting the barriers for people of color who aspire to leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. Now they are moving into their third survey, and we want to ensure representation from Alaska nonprofits. We will share details on participating in the survey when it opens on August 22.
There is plenty of data not just from these studies but from others like those below, which report that the nonprofit sector as a whole has much work to do. If you are interested in reading about changes needed in our nonprofit systems and structure, I encourage you to dive into these resources. Much more is available beyond these few options, but this is a way into the conversations. Check out one or all and come back for more.
While we continue to acknowledge that no one way, or one tool, nor a check-box solution exists to keep us on the path toward diversity, equity, and belonging as a sector, we are grateful for the research we do have and the efforts of trusted national organizations that can inform our daily commitment of turning data into action.
For more than a decade, Foraker has offered interim executive directors. Our interim executive pool consists of highly qualified and seasoned professionals who have led organizations for many years. They can help your board achieve stability after a crisis, give the board breathing room before taking the next step to bring in a new leader, or hold the mission steady during a change.
We can place someone with your organization either full or part-time, and they can work virtually or on-site. Contractually this relationship is between Foraker and the organization eliminating the need to hire a temporary staff member.
Our interim service is available to any Foraker Partner. Call us and we’ll be pleased to provide you with more information, learn about your organizational needs, and let you know how we can help you.