Planning & Structure

Strategic conversations will set up your organization to thrive.

Sustainability Snapshots

Do you wonder where to focus your efforts to strengthen your mission? Are you clear about how your strengths can be used to address your challenges? Our Sustainability Snapshot is a tool to gain common understanding and design next steps.

Based on the Foraker Nonprofit Sustainability Model, our assessment tool is designed to assist board and staff leaders to determine the next steps to strengthen your organization. While this is a tailored process, it will likely include a survey and interviews and will culminate in a written snapshot. This document can be used to:

  • Engage the full board and staff in strategic conversation
  • Support a funding request for capacity building
  • Focus your priorities and develop a path forward

Strategic Planning

Thoughtful planning by the board is the foundation for success in all organizations and collaborations. Strategic planning is an opportunity for the board and staff to move forward together by creating a common understanding of what is core to your success.

A strategic plan takes the guesswork out of what your organization is striving to accomplish. It’s a tool that helps your organization thrive in today’s uncertain environment. Think of a strategic plan as setting the direction for an organization’s sustainability.We believe that thoughtful strategic planning is the foundation for success in all organizations. Planning should involve the board and the CEO at a minimum, with the board setting direction and the staff implementing that direction through programs and services.

Foraker’s planning process is based on the work of James Collins and Jim Porras who have conducted years of research into what makes companies thrive in the marketplace. We, like Collins and Porras, view the strategic plan as a high-level compass setting the direction for an organization’s journey of sustainability – not a detailed map showing every landmark along the way.

A strategic plan will be clear about “who you are and where you are going.” Once the plan is complete, then organizations can take the next step of creating annual operating plans to prioritize the goals for the next 12-18 months and tactical work plans for the specific goals.

Our facilitated process takes a minimum of five hours and addresses four basic questions. First, what is your core purpose? Second, what are your core values? Third, what is your long-term strategic direction? And fourth, what are your short-term goals?

Our time together is interactive, challenging, and fun. Our role as facilitator is to focus on common understanding of what is fundamentally core and what success looks like in the future.

Annual Planning

Once you have identified your long-term strategic goals, an annual operating plan will help you to prioritize your next steps.

We recommend every 12-18 months that your board and staff identify priorities that will focus your team and keep you on track to achieve the goals set out in your strategic plan. An annual plan establishes specific metrics for success and can help you develop a work plan to delineate project leads, timelines, and budgets as you are ready to take on each goal.

Our team is here to guide you in creating an annual plan. For more information on how we can help, use our contact form or call us at 907-743-1200.

Business Planning

The Foraker Nonprofit Sustainability Model focuses on unrestricted cash as an important component to any nonprofit business plan. Every organization needs to understand its business model to know if the majority of unrestricted funds will primarily come from mission-related earned income or philanthropy.

A sound business model is the basis of a business plan. Nonprofits are businesses with a double bottom line: mission and money. Our business plans explore all the components of nonprofit sustainability, including funding, and pay specific attention to mission-related earned income. Business planning is essential when you are contemplating a new program, exploring a capital expansion, or just getting off the ground.

We offer affordable business planning services, customizing the plan to meet your specific needs. You can choose between several services:

Option 1: Business plan review and edit

If you already have a business plan or you’re drafting one, we can review your work and recommend ways to refine it.

Option 2: Board and staff facilitation and outline

If you’re just starting a business plan, let us help you understand the components and guide a discussion into when, why, and how you can use a plan to work toward financial success. We have created a guide based on our sustainability model to help you move forward in a strategic way.

Option 3: Making it pencil – or working the financials

Do you have all the words, but need help with the numbers to complete your plan? We can review your project, ask critical questions, and suggest the factors you need to consider to see if your great ideas will result in financial stability and resiliency.

Option 4: Business plan mentoring

If you need a little help or encouragement to either start or finish your plan, we can guide you through the process and get you to a final product. With this option, we work through our business planning guide and help you consider all the questions that need to be covered in your plan.

For more information on how we can help, contact us at 907-743-1200.

Fund Development Planning

Having a well-conceived and realistic plan is critical to successful donor-centered fundraising. We offer a customized approach that helps you create a plan that you and your team can implement with confidence.

Although we don’t write the plan for you, we can assist in all parts of the planning process. We offer a step-by-step approach that includes both staff and board discussions and agreement. We start with a high-level discussion about organizational culture and fund development expectations. Our work culminates in a narrative summarizing the key decisions that drive the plan including organizational values, goals, key audiences, a gift chart, and recognition strategies all tied to budget and strategic goals. We also work closely with you to create a tactical version of the plan that outlines how each goal will be achieved.

While we believe that you will be most successful with full board and leadership staff involvement, the creation of the plan can be written by a small team that is committed to the process and can in turn engage the rest of the group in successful implementation. If you are interested in learning more, call us or sign up for our class to learn more about what makes up a comprehensive fundraising plan.

Time Estimates: Timing to complete a plan depends on each organization and the time that staff and board are able to devote to the process. While there is not a “one size fits all” description of time required, it is safe to allocate a minimum of six hours of board facilitation plus 20 hours of Foraker consulting time. Complicated plans will take more time, as will plans for organizations that are new to donor-centered fundraising.

Once there is agreement on the big picture, we move through the key elements that are necessary to develop an effective fundraising plan that include:

  • Developing strategies that build relationships with current and potential donors
  • Identifying ways to maximize the impact of your fundraising events
  • Developing and implementing donor recognition programs
  • Creating effective marketing and communication strategies that support your efforts
  • Developing donor retention strategies
  • Crafting strategies that ensure board participation in your fundraising endeavors

Communication Planning

While it is tempting to start with a tactical tool – like a brochure or website – that can mean costly mistakes. Effective communication begins by clearly understanding the desires and motivations of your customer, client, or audience, then developing strategies to connect them to your mission. We offer a customized approach that helps you create a plan you can implement with confidence.

Although we don’t write the plan for you, we can assist with the planning process. We use a step-by-step approach, which we call the Foraker 7-Cs of strategic communication, that includes both staff and board discussions and agreement. We start with a high-level discussion about organizational values and the specific audiences you need to reach to successfully carry out your mission. We also tie the communications plan to other key plans like fundraising, budget, and strategic goals. Our work culminates in a narrative summarizing the key decisions that drive the plan including organizational values, goals, key audiences, and strategic positioning. We also work closely with you to create a tactical plan that outlines how each goal will be achieved.

While we believe that you will be most successful when with full board and leadership staff are involved, creating a plan can be done by a small team that is committed to the process and can in turn engage the rest of the organization in successful implementation.

Document Creation & Review

Do your policies and procedures still reflect your practices? Do you need help crafting or updating your bylaws or articles of incorporation? We can offer you a high-level, non-legal review of your most important documents.

We can guide you through the process of either creating new organizational documents and policies or reviewing the ones you already have to ensure they are aligned with your organizational culture, practices, and current policies

Creating a New Nonprofit

Do you see an unmet need in your community? Are you wondering if a new nonprofit is the right step? We are ready to help you assess your options.

Creating a new nonprofit may seem like the right answer to meet a pressing community need. However, before going through the work and cost of setting up a new organization, it’s important to realistically assess the chances for success.

Conversations we will have along the way include who else in the community is working in this area, whether a fiscal sponsorship is right for you, or if a coalition is already in the works. We will also discuss what the business model would be for this idea and what the founding board needs to start off successfully.

If you decide that starting a new nonprofit is the right path for you and your cause, we can assist you in incorporating with the State of Alaska and filing for federal tax-exempt status.

Have you already created a new nonprofit and are unsure of your next steps? We can help point you in the right direction.

Organizational Culture

Every organization has a unique culture that influences important decisions and opportunities. The core values and beliefs of the founders of your mission set the stage for your culture. Is your organization clear what makes up your organizational culture and why it’s important?

Organizational culture is bigger than the individual on the board or staff. Surfacing the culture can help the team understand the process of decisions, tolerance for risk, acceptable behavior, and helps us know how to welcome new people into the mission. Appreciating your culture is also a key step collaborating successfully with other partners. Exploring the unique culture of your organization is a gift of connection.

Planning & Structure Courses

We offer classes on planning and structure, or we can create a session to meet your specific needs.

Planning & Structure Resources

Find tools and resources related to planning and structure.

Articles Of Incorporation Example (126.0 KB)
This document provides a guide for developing your own articles of incorporation. We can also help you to ensure that you meet all necessary requirements.
Bylaws For Organizations With Members Template (198.7 KB)
Check this template, complete with handy tips, if you’re drafting bylaws for an organization that is built on membership.
Bylaws For Organizations With No Members Template (195.1 KB)
Check this template, complete with handy tips, if you’re drafting bylaws for an organization that will not have members.
Checklist For Dissolving Your Business (141.8 KB)
Are you closing your nonprofit? Read this to be sure you don’t miss any steps that are required.
Checklist For Maintaining Compliance (135.2 KB)
This document will help your organization do what is needed to protect against adverse legal actions.
Code Of Ethical Behavior Example (126.0 KB)
By consulting this document, you can ensure you haven’t missed any key considerations as you develop your own guidelines for ethical behavior.
Conflict Of Interest Policy Example (125.4 KB)
Refer to this example to help develop an appropriate conflict of interest policy for your organization.
Electronic Communication Policy Example (119.8 KB)
Check this document for assistance in developing your policies on access and disclosure of electronic communications such as email, telephone, and Internet.
Guidelines For Nonprofit Bylaws (124.4 KB)
Before you start drafting bylaws, check this document for ideas on what should be included.
Starting A Nonprofit? Read This First (152.1 KB)
This document outlines many points you may not have considered. If you’re interested in starting an organization, this will help you with your decision making.