Our Story

Our core purpose is to strengthen nonprofits.

Who We Are

The Foraker Group is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Our core purpose is to strengthen nonprofits.

Our deep commitment to advancing dedicated, skilled, and compassionate professionals and volunteers to serve Alaska’s nonprofit and tribal organizations is guided by the Foraker Nonprofit Sustainability Model.

We know that for vital nonprofits that serve our communities and bolster our economy to succeed, they need to be strong, stable, and ready to innovate and collaborate. Foraker offers Alaska nonprofits and tribes the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to thrive.

Remaining relevant to our Partners and Alaska’s nonprofit sector is key to our success. Our Theory of Change articulates the way we work with organizations, their leaders, and the sector as a whole, as well as the outcomes we expect at various points of engagement. At the same time we are listening and soliciting feedback from our Partners, funders, and the sector to help us stay on track and achieve greater impact. Together, the model and the theory provide the basis for our accountability and assure that our programs and services remain dynamic and vital resources for the sector.

You have our commitment to provide mission-centered, creative, high quality, and cost-effective services to all regions of Alaska. Our approach is rooted in our core values to meet you as staff, board, and volunteers where you currently exist, working with you to foster new skills, collaborative partnerships, sustainability, and strategic thinking.

Our Values

Foraker’s core values are words that motivate us to achieve our core purpose by weaving the essence of these ideas into every product and service we offer.

These values are: Sustainability – Strategic – Collaboration – Urban/Rural/Native/Non-Native. The last value reflects our commitment to serving all Alaska’s people and communities.

Our core values are reflected in our acknowledgment of the land where we live, our commitment to serving nonprofits and tribes in urban and rural Alaska, and our obligation to address the systemic racism and oppression that is deeply rooted in our history as a state. It is from this, that we begin our understanding of the oppressive systems and structures in our sector that impact people. For some time now, the Foraker board and staff have been exploring what it means to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. The following is a high-level summary of the five tenants that describe our commitment.

We are part of the journey. We believe we are a catalyst. We recognize that our understanding will deepen and grow and that no single path fits every organization.

We believe strong nonprofits are diverse nonprofits. Through our research, consulting, and educational programs, we seek a shift in board and staff composition that reflects the community and mission of each nonprofit.

We know our work is upstream and downstream. We must simultaneously work with what exists now while creating lasting systemic change.

We focus on race and intersectionality in our work. We champion our commitment to diversity and focus on creating true inclusion and belonging for every person.

We create and hold space for conscious conversations. Instead of shying away from difficult conversations, we embrace the opportunity to oppose racism and deepen the understanding that diversity and equity are essential to every mission.

What We Believe

We hold fast to a set of ideas that provide a fundamental and underlying rationale for our work. These are the foundational perspectives that are woven throughout our core values. These are the ideas that guide us and keep us oriented in the right direction.

At Foraker, we are dedicated to the ideas that:

  • The nonprofit sector is essential to our democracy. Nonprofits bring people together to create change and provide a voice for civil society.
  • Nonprofits are a part of everyday lives. Every day we as Alaskans rely on nonprofits to support our health and well-being, stand-up for causes that matter, bring people together, teach our young, care for our elderly, and so much more. Donors, volunteers, and staff work to improve our communities in both visible and invisible ways every day.
  • Successful leaders are supported leaders. We need support from one another to achieve our greatest goals.
  • No organization can achieve mission on its own. It is only when we connect, convene, and collaborate to strengthen relationships that we achieve something greater than ourselves and any one institution.
  • Leaders make better decisions when they represent the communities they serve. Decisions made with a community are more viable than decisions made for a community.
  • Local leaders make things happen. Community change is driven by local leaders. Collectively they best know their needs and solutions.
  • Strong nonprofits build strong communities. When nonprofits work together within and across sectors, they solve complex problems, create opportunities for quality of life, and offer invaluable networks and connections that strengthen our sense of place.
  • Vibrant economies need nonprofits. Nonprofits contribute to the wealth and resources of each region in our state by creating jobs, leveraging resources, promoting philanthropic investments, and engaging people in using their voice for the greater good.

Where We Are Going

We believe in setting clear goals to lead us into the future. We have strategic goals as well as public policy priorities. Our strategic plan guides our work beyond “business as usual” and propels us to accomplish our goals in partnership with the sector.

Long-term goal: Lead innovative systems change in order to strengthen the ability of Alaska nonprofits to significantly improve our communities.

Achieving our long-term goal:  Our values and theory of change articulate the way we work with organizations, leaders, and the sector to achieve our goals. They ensure that we provide excellence to our  programs and services while we strive to achieve new goals.  The Foraker Group will act as a leader, catalyst, convener, innovator, and connector for the Alaska nonprofit sector to achieve the goals set out in our 2022- 2027 strategic plan.

Our Founding

In 1998, the United Way of Anchorage set a strategic goal to create a model of shared services for the nonprofit sector based on the consolidated services of several oil companies on the North Slope of Alaska.  That idea germinated over time and was cultivated in a moment of great change in Alaska’s philanthropic and corporate landscape. Foraker was launched under the United Way umbrella in January 2001 with the clear intent to serve all Alaska nonprofits and tribes by building their internal capacity and promoting philanthropy.

Guided by a governance board and an advisory board made up of Alaska’s business, philanthropic, and nonprofit leaders, we were positioned to serve the larger economic and social environment in Alaska. Initial financial support came from the Rasmuson FoundationUnited Way of AnchorageM.J. Murdock Charitable TrustConocoPhillips Alaska, and BP Alaska. Dennis McMillian was Foraker’s founding President/CEO who expertly led the organization for 15 years.

We officially assumed the responsibilities of the state nonprofit association through a formal relationship with the National Council of Nonprofits in 2009. Today, we offer a wide range of services, educational programs, and public policy initiatives that help assure the success of Alaska’s nonprofit sector.

How We Chose Our Name

Our name came from a special place that is part of the rugged beauty that surrounds us.  Standing next to Denali is a lesser known peak called Mount Foraker. Back in 2001, Foraker seemed an appropriate name for our new organization. We viewed Denali as a metaphor for the nonprofit sector with Mount Foraker standing right next to it. Foraker is part of the landscape but does not overshadow Denali, the highly esteemed landmark for Alaskans.

In the same way, The Foraker Group “stands beside” Alaska’s nonprofit professionals, working with them to build effective, strategic, and sustainable organizations.