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Category Archives: President’s letter

Jun 2, 2023
Posted Under: President's letter       Tags: Alaska Board Match, volunteerism

At Foraker, we often talk about nonprofit sector data as BAD or best available data. Unfortunately, most data aren’t even BAD, but instead are anecdotal based on a small survey or a narrow, unrepresentative sample. Even worse, it is data that grabs you with a “click bait” title and results in trying to sell our sector something. I crave representative data and find myself skipping to the end of every report to see how the data was collected and if Alaska was even included in “national research.” Sadly, it often is not. For these reasons, we are committed to working with Partners to gather the very best data we can from a variety of trusted sources to produce Alaska’s Nonprofit Sector: Generating Economic Impact. It is a big lift, so… Read more »

Apr 10, 2023
Posted Under: Leadership Summit President's letter

A new season is upon us. April brings us many variations of religious holidays – Ramadan, Easter, Passover – reminders of new beginnings and a time to reimagine what is next for ourselves and our communities. I have been doing my own reflection as we work to prepare for the upcoming Leadership Summit happening virtually May 4 and in person May 11 & 12. Our Leadership Summits aren’t ordinary conferences where a group of experts stands at the front of the room to tell you what you should know. Instead, you are at the center of the space – holding and owning, thinking and talking, and reimagining together, from the thoughts being shared, what might come next. The genesis of this year’s Summit is actually found in a newsletter article… Read more »

Mar 10, 2023
Posted Under: President's letter

Relationship reckoning – reorientation – reassessment. These words don’t just reflect trends coming out of the pandemic but also reflect behavior we see every day in our board rooms, staff rooms, volunteer pools, and maybe even in our personal relationships. We are indeed in a state of flux in our connections to one another and in the ways we choose to spend our time. I say this not as an outsider to it all but as a person who is both living it and seeing it across the sector. In my lifetime, the only point of mild comparison to what I see today is what happened after 9/11. Americans made one-time donations to a common cause more than ever before, and then shifted their giving and volunteerism dramatically to areas… Read more »

Feb 9, 2023
Posted Under: Advocacy President's letter

In any given year, or month, or day we face challenges to doing our missions well. These challenges aren’t new, but the tsunami of so many hitting at the same time prevents us from performing at the level our missions require – and that must change. It was with these thoughts in mind that I addressed the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee last month. I briefed legislators on the contributions nonprofits make to the Alaska economy, along with some of the challenges facing the sector and actions they can take to help us meet these challenges. I encourage you to listen to this recording of the committee hearing. Questions after my presentation provide important insights to how the committee members think about the issues facing Alaska. In my testimony I… Read more »

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 »