The funny thing about anniversaries is that generally the only people who celebrate them are those who were there at the beginning. But then there are birthdays, where everyone can find some joy and celebrate with a cupcake. To that end, I am wishing Foraker a happy 20th birthday – we have become a part of many lives, not just the few who were there in the beginning, and for that we are all so grateful. Because of each of you and your interest, engagement, and connection, we are a stronger, more vibrant, and more visible sector than we were when we started.
Many of you know our founding story – we were born with the idea of creating shared services for nonprofits. 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 and moral support came from the Rasmuson Foundation, United Way of Anchorage, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, ARCO Alaska, and BP Alaska. Ed Rasmuson was our founding Governance Board Chair and Diane Kaplan was our founding Operations Board Chair. Together with our founding CEO Dennis McMillian, they positioned Foraker for a successful launch and many successful ventures beyond. We continue to be so very grateful to the Rasmuson family and to the whole team at the foundation and to the board and staff of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for their dedication to championing the work of the nonprofit sector through Foraker and in so many other ways during the last 20 years – they truly have been exceptional partners from the beginning.
We are also grateful for the deep investments of so many others including the Mat-Su Health Foundation, as we have walked together since their inception, and to our national partners since 2009, the National Council of Nonprofits. Today, as you know, we remain dedicated to promoting a positive culture of philanthropy, supporting stabilizing shared services for nonprofits and tribes, and providing a range of other services, educational programs, and public policy initiatives that help ensure the success of Alaska’s nonprofit sector. More than that, we have fully embraced our role as the voice of the sector, as a collaborator to government at all levels, and as a partner to businesses to achieve the best possible results that meet diverse community needs across Alaska. We have never strayed from our core values, and our commitments are only more clear as we continue our journey to serve Alaska for the next 20 years, and the next, and the next.
In all this hard work by so many for so long, we have been able to keep our momentum through the greatest of challenges – like earthquakes and COVID and unstable state budgets – and the greatest of joys – like publishing our book Focus on Sustainability: A Nonprofit’s Journey – because of YOU. We are in service to you – Alaska’s nonprofits and tribes. You are why we get up in the morning. You are our inspiration. You are our celebration. You are essential and important and we see you every day. So happy birthday to you, too. You are as diverse as the 5,700 missions you steward and as deep and wide as the state where we live.
We would love to hear your Foraker birthday wish or your favorite Foraker story. Help us to celebrate and spread the cheer that keeps our energy up and our work connected.
With deep gratitude,