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Category Archives: President’s letter

Jan 10, 2023
Posted Under: President's letter

As I look back on 2022 – frankly, I am amazed. Most of the nonprofits I know and the people who work and volunteer at them were running on much less than a full tank when we started the last year. Some of you crossed into 2022 already running on fumes as you faced the relentless string of truths about our existence. Individually and collectively, we confronted business models in disarray as a result of the pandemic – mission-based programming askew based on overdue state and government grants and contracts – staff that for the first time were leaving in record numbers – board members who were rethinking their roles and commitments – and on and on. You lived these truths every day, so I know you have your own… Read more »

Dec 9, 2022
Posted Under: President's letter

Let me share a few facts with you about volunteering in Alaska. First, we have a tradition of volunteering. Alaska ranks among the top five states for volunteer participation and consistently exceeds the U.S. average with an estimated 40.6% of Alaskans volunteering as of 2019. Second, volunteers contribute to the economy. The latest study from Independent Sector notes that volunteers typically contribute nearly $200 billion to the national economy. Here in Alaska, volunteer service is worth an estimated $594.7 million – a significant contribution to our economy. In 2020, the per-hour rate for volunteers in Alaska rose to $30.30 placing us 13th among all states and the District of Columbia in hourly rate. Volunteering enhances organizational impact, improves the volunteer’s quality of life, and creates momentum for a more fully… Read more »

Nov 8, 2022
Posted Under: President's letter

Whew! Decisions. Every day in every way. Life changing and insignificant – each one is called the same thing, but wow are they different. Sometimes the sheer volume of them can make even the insignificant feel hard. As humans, of course, we are always making choices – even choices that don’t feel like a choice. For many of you, your choices have a significant impact on people’s lives or on the stability of your missions. These are the choices I am thinking about at the moment – when our responsibility is always to be in a space of “leaving it better than we found it” – when all is as it should be – bigger than a person, a point in time, a single idea. These are the choices in… Read more »

Oct 10, 2022
Posted Under: President's letter

I have been thinking about so many conversations lately that center on exhaustion.  I said recently to a few colleagues, I am tired in a way that sleep will not fix; they nodded in a knowing way. To be clear, my tired is a tired that comes with great privilege.  I am, in this moment, only talking about the work of leading an organization like so many of you do every day.  The persistent and consistent depth and breadth of decisions with no clear answers that impact others in every way is unceasing.  I am sure this was true pre-pandemic but perhaps it is the speed, the severity, the constant need to rethink or redo the same decision as new information emerges that makes it more challenging – honestly, I… Read more »

Sep 9, 2022
Posted Under: President's letter

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… Read more »

Aug 8, 2022
Posted Under: DEI President's letter

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… Read more »

Jul 11, 2022
Posted Under: President's letter

When our existence feels so deeply divided, finding words that don’t further deepen the chasm is exhausting. My desire on any given day to scream, cry, laugh, sing, celebrate, or mourn in the public square feels equal parts impossible and required. This is not just my life but the life of my peers who are leading organizations that serve the whole community – those they personally align with and those they don’t. This is the choice to lead a nonpartisan nonprofit – to honor the Johnson Amendment that separates religion and money and to respect the boundaries of the charitable (c)(3) designation as defined by the IRS – all while taking a stand for mission. This is the challenge: to lead and be bold but not to alienate. And yet,… Read more »

Jun 16, 2022
Posted Under: President's letter

We are so pleased to have a newsletter article from our CEO, Laurie Wolf, featured this month in Alaska Business! “Reimagining the Workplace,” which appeared in Foraker’s December newsletter, explores new ways of working after the disruptions from COVID. The article offers a view of fresh opportunities — all with an eye toward fostering creativity and advancing missions. If you missed the article when it was first published, check out this updated version in the magazine, complete with photos of Foraker staff…. Read more »

Jun 6, 2022
Posted Under: DEI President's letter

The right people at the right time to move your mission forward – this is how we approach our work at Foraker. It is a central tenant in the Foraker Nonprofit Sustainability Model and it applies to both board and staff. Beyond a slogan, this idea encapsulates the work of planned succession for both board and leadership staff, addresses the essential relationship between the board and the CEO, and aligns the goals and values of the organization with the people in charge of stewarding those ideas. Importantly, it also speaks to the necessity for representation in all our leadership spaces. There is a historic and current gap between the demographics of most boards and leadership staff – based on race, age, gender, and experience – and the populations they serve…. Read more »

May 6, 2022
Posted Under: President's letter

I looked out my window today and the leaves were just at the moment before they unfurl – the moments of anticipation of summer captured on every branch and in every green blade of grass poking up from the brown ground. The backdrop of snow-covered peaks and valleys crusted to a hard sheen by the sun. Soon enough we will be in full summer mode – grabbing every hour of daylight to restock our freezers, replenish our minds, and renew our spirit so that we may be ready for another season. I am ready. Are you? As I literally watched the leaves uncoil a little more, I wondered how this translates into our nonprofit spaces? Summer can pose interesting dilemmas in Alaska workplaces. Personally, I gave up long ago believing… Read more »