Timing is everything

Jeff Baird, Senior Program Associate

To quote the words of the venerable Willie Nelson, “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

Timing, my friends, is everything, and this is especially true when it comes to applying for grants. Submit a request too early, and your application might not be well positioned for success. Apply too late, and there might not be enough time to get it processed before funds are needed.

Now, if that sounds ominous, don’t be alarmed. Rasmuson Foundation staff is here to help you navigate the deadline process. So, give us a call, and we’ll discuss your project. In the meantime, here are the deadlines for some of the Foundation’s core programs.

Tier 1 grants (up to $25,000): There is no application deadline! You can apply any time, and complete applications will be processed within 90 days.

Tier 2 grants (any request above $25,000): Tier 2 Letters of Inquiry are accepted year-round. Tier 2 grants are awarded during the biannual board meetings, which generally take place in June and November each year. You should allow at least six to nine months for the Tier 2 review process and always contact a program officer prior to submitting a letter of inquiry, to get the best advice on timing.

Sabbatical: The Foundation awards one cycle of sabbaticals per year. The application is available on our website year-round and is due October 1.

Individual Artist: The Foundation awards one round of Individual Artist grants per year. The application is available on our website January 1, and is due March 1.

Program-related Investments: Applicants interested in pursuing a PRI should contact Chris Perez to determine if this program matches the proposed project. PRIs are also awarded during the biannual board meetings, and follow the same schedule as Tier 2 requests.

 



Philanthropy in Alaska: Who gives

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

This post was written by Rasmuson Foundation President, Diane Kaplan together with Dennis McMillian, president/CEO of The Foraker Group. It originally appeared on the Opinion page in the August 15 edition of Alaska Dispatch News. That story can be found here.

We don’t usually talk much about charitable giving during the summer. It’s partly timing.  We’re in the quiet period between Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) applications. We’re months from the year-end flurry of fundraising activity. And Alaskans are busy enjoying all that our wonderful summers have to offer.

Even so, the most recent Foraker Nonprofit Economic Impact Study is worth some attention. In it, The Foraker Group has determined that Alaska nonprofits get a much bigger share of their unrestricted contributions – 15 percent – from corporations than nonprofits nationally.

Stated more dramatically, but no less accurately, corporate philanthropy in Alaska is triple the national figure. Nationally, corporate giving accounts for just 5% of philanthropic giving. In Alaska, it’s 15%.  Big oil alone accounts 11%.  That doesn’t even include other big givers such as banks. By every indicator, corporate giving in Alaska is three times the national norm.

While corporate giving in Alaska remains strong, another study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy confirms what we have known for some time: personal giving in Alaska lags behind the national norm – although not as far behind as in the past. Charitable donations from individuals grew from $279 million in 2007 to $322 million in 2013 — that’s an impressive 19 percent increase.

Corporate philanthropy in Alaska is also a big factor behind the growing success of Pick.Click.Give. As most Alaskans know, Pick.Click.Give. allows Alaskans to share some of their Permanent Fund Dividend with charitable causes they care about. This year, nearly 27,000 Alaskans pledged $2.8 million from their PFDs to their charities of choice.  That’s three times the 2010 amount.

That growth doesn’t just happen. A huge part of the credit belongs to Pick.Click.Give. investors who have helped fund the infrastructure and awareness building of this philanthropy start-up – corporations such as Wells Fargo, ConocoPhillips Alaska, BP Alaska, Flint Hills Resources, Doyon, Ltd., Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Providence Health and Services, and Northrim Bank. They join organizations such as Alaska Mental Health Trust, Mat-Su Health Foundation, Atwood Foundation, and the Alaska Children’s Trust in helping to build a vehicle to grow philanthropy in Alaska.

ExxonMobil deserves a special mention. They match dollar for dollar every Pick.Click.Give. donation to the state’s universities. And a special promotion grant this year stimulated the highest daily giving totals since the campaign began in 2009.

Credit is also owed to the thousands of Alaskans who make our state better through their charitable investments.  We thank you.


LaRue Barnes says: September 17th, 2014 at 7:33 am
Thank you for this report. Our very large state with its small groups of populations that have real wilderness separating them, will keep business and program delivery costs above the national norm. We need both healthy corporate and private contributions. It is particularly tricky for nonprofits. One family's move can shift budgets and service plans dramatically.It is good to see where we might fit in the big picture. The time to flourish is now,we may not always have the various investors and granting programs available across the state. READ MORE
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Foundation Visits Bering Straits Communities

Lily Weed, Communications Fellow

Rasmuson Foundation photos Lily Weed

Last month a contingent from Rasmuson Foundation visited the communities of Golovin, Saint Michael, Koyuk and Elim (a planned trip to White Mountain was cancelled due to weather). Rasmuson Board Vice Chair Cathy Rasmuson, CEO Diane Kaplan, and staff were joined by Nina Kemppel of Alaska Humanities Forum, Bebucks Ivanoff of NSEDC, and Melanie Bahnke and Bryant Hammond of Kawerak. The goal of the visit was for the Foundation to gain a first hand understanding of local priorities while also raising awareness of grants available.

Highlights of the trip include: the grand opening of the search and rescue center in Golovin; a tour of the old school building and discussion of its potential with Saint Michael community members; a visit to Headstart and dinner with friends in Nome; answering the questions of Koyuk residents about the Foundation and seeing their library (which is located in the heart of town); and a presentation by Elim resident Emily Murray on the need for a Youth and Elder Center as a place for the town’s artists to pass on their skills to younger generations. More information about the trip can be found in the stories of the Bering Straits area reporters who joined the group on each of the two days of travel: Foundation Hears Funding Aims of Bering Strait Communities and Rasmuson Foundation Staff Tour Regional Communities.


Barbara Baugh says: August 15th, 2014 at 10:30 am
It is so heartwarming to hear about your visits to Golovin, St. Micahels, Elim and Koyuk, To have such an experienced, knowledge group listen to their needs, make it possible for them to show off their new center and answer questions is so important. You are giving these villages hope that someone cares about them. Barbara Baugh READ MORE
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Nice day for bill signing

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO
HB 75 best

It was a sunny, still day in Kenai and the mosquitos were buzzing. State and Kenai Peninsula leaders were assembled: Governor Sean Parnell, Commissioners Diane Blumer (Labor), Susan Bell (Commerce) and Cora Campbell (Fish and Game); Senate President Charlie Huggins and House Speaker Mike Chenault; Senators Pete Micciche and Lesil McGuire; Representatives Paul Seaton, Kurt Olson and Lynn Gattis; Kenai Borough Mayor Mike Navarre; Kenai Mayor Pat Porter.

Bill-signing ceremonies are an American tradition. Alaska Community Foundation President Candace Winkler and I were in Kenai earlier this week for the signing of HB75, which enables more organizations to participate in Pick.Click.Give. HB75 also sets in place a mechanism to sustain the program in the future, setting aside a small portion of each organization’s donations. (Pick.Click.Give enables Alaskans to donate all or part of their PFD’s to nonprofit causes of their choice.) There is a chuckle from the assembled crowd when it’s noted that this legislation won’t cost the state a penny. Present are representatives of organizations that will benefit: a Fairbanks arts organization, a Kenai Peninsula women’s shelter, and a Christian college. It’s a good day. The speeches are made, the applause follows, the signing is done, and ceremonial pens commemorating the event are handed out by the Governor. Cameras click all the while. It’s a nice day in Kenai.


Adam Gibbons says: August 6th, 2014 at 5:46 am
Wonderful news and occasion! I hope you blessed the event w some post-signing sockeye fishing! READ MORE
Dana Paperman says: August 6th, 2014 at 1:46 am
It is with utmost gratefulness that the Seward Senior Center will again become a recipient of this terrific statewide fundraising opportunity. Thank you to our government representatives, and to those that support the not for profit human services in the great state of Alaska. It is a good day! READ MORE
Michael Hawfield says: August 5th, 2014 at 12:02 pm
CONGRATULATIONS. Alaskans win all the way around. READ MORE
Joanne Phillips-Nutter says: August 5th, 2014 at 8:46 am
A wonderful day indeed! HB75 is truly a win-win-win. Thank you Rasmuson Foundation and ALL who supported getting this bill signed. READ MORE
David Anderson says: August 5th, 2014 at 8:22 am
A truly auspicious event for one of the most innovative and community supportive programs ever. Well done and thanks to all involved! READ MORE
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A day on the Yukon with Captain Schutt

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

Rasmuson Foundation photos by Sharity Sommer and Ian Dutton.

 

Most days, Aaron Schutt is managing the business of Doyon, Limited, the regional Alaska Native Corporation for the Interior, meeting with business partners or some of his 19,000 fellow shareholders, or coaching for his kids’ hockey teams. But on this day, he is Captain Schutt, piloting his boat, Sonrisa, on the Yukon River. It’s the time of year when Rasmuson Foundation’s Board of Directors visits an area of the state to see first-hand the work of the Foundation and learn about community issues from the people who live there.

We meet Aaron in Tanana, ­­­­129 air miles from Fairbanks, and tour the town with Tribal Administrator Shannon Erhart and Tribal Council Chair Curtis Sommer. We stop at the Senior Center and drop off a load of fresh fruit for the elders. We see the washeteria (laundry/showers), the school, housing, and the remnants of the old Tanana Mission Church. The community hopes to preserve the church, which is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

We stop for a visit with Cynthia Erickson and her Tanana 4-H kids. They are the kids who made that show-stopping presentation at last year’s Alaska Federation of Natives Convention with their message of hope and commitment to stamp out suicide.

Mid-way in our 160-mile river trip, we stop in on Roger and Carole Huntington as they prepare – along with 40 volunteers from Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake and the National Samaritan Purse charity – to welcome 60 kids to Kokrine Hills Bible Camp the next morning. We are impressed with the beautiful facilities, the vegetables growing high in the camp greenhouse, and the buzz of excitement.

Upon arrival in Galena (one boat had engine trouble, requiring a rescue) we are treated to a feast with community members at the Elder Center, which is back in tip-top shape after suffering damage in the devastating flood of Memorial Day 2013. Salmon, moose, beaver, herring roe and lasagna are on the menu thanks to Agnes Sweetsir, the center’s administrator.

Community members talk about their needs and aspirations. Chairman Ed Rasmuson presents a check to Mayor Jon Korta to help rebuild the flood-damaged baseball field. Mayor Korta and Tribal Administrator March Runner lead us on a tour of the town to see how industrious Galena residents are rebuilding – 90% of homes were damaged or destroyed in 2013. We pass by the baseball field, tent accommodations set-up for volunteers, the GILA boarding school in the old Air Force base, Sidney Huntington School, swimming pool, and the Edgar Nollner Health Center.

Captain Schutt smiles with satisfaction. It’s been a good day.

 



Why board giving matters

Jeff Baird, Senior Program Associate

Prospective grant applicants frequently ask about our board giving policy. To summarize, the Foundation expects that nonprofit board members make meaningful cash gifts to their organization at least once a year.

We believe one of the primary responsibilities of a board is to ensure the nonprofit they lead is on sound financial footing. When board members make cash gifts to their organization, they show their understanding that raising funds is essential to the financial stability of their organization. Rasmuson Foundation recognizes that volunteering is extremely valuable. But dollars and services are not interchangeable. Volunteerism can’t do it all. Operating a nonprofit takes money, and we believe at least some of it should come from the people charged with leading the organization.

This policy has its roots in the banking principles of Elmer Rasmuson. He believed those seeking investment should demonstrate their commitment by having “skin in the game” – before they ask others for financial support.

But what constitutes a “meaningful” donation? This is a measure that is specific to each individual. For one grantee, a board member who was homeless gave $1. For others on the same board, the giving ability was much higher.

While we leave it up to the organization and its board members to decide, this is a fair question for us to raise in the review process. If you’re seeking a grant,  be prepared to discuss it.

Among other questions we often hear on board giving:
READ MORE


William Gee says: July 15th, 2014 at 3:46 am
Excellent article. This should be required reading given to prospective board members by the Excutive Director of all non-profits. READ MORE
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New CEOs share challenges and ideas

Sammye Pokryfki, Vice President of Programs
girdwood CEO retreat 2014

From left to right: Melanie Bahnke, Alisha Drabek, Michelle DeWitt, Liz Medicine Crow, Chelsea Gulling, Hillary Morgan, Sue Perles, Nina Kemppel, Julie Decker, Sammye Pokryfki, Diane Kaplan

In June Diane Kaplan and I convened a retreat in Girdwood of chief executives to discuss the joys and challenges of being a new CEO. The CEOs shared stories and solutions on issues such as work / life balance, board relations, staff management and even health insurance coverage. Several weeks later, we chased down some of the participants to ask what they took from the retreat. Here’s what they told us:

Sue Perles, executive director, Girl Scouts of Alaska
“The takeaways were on different levels. Friendships, good company. We were all relatively new CEOs. We had some interesting professional discussions. We now know other people to talk to.
“Two areas that resonated for me were one, how to work with a board of directors and help them be strong and effective, and two, managing people. It was interesting to hear what other people were doing and how they make decisions. People had interesting ways of dealing with personnel challenges.
“One of the most fun parts
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Heather Flynn says: July 7th, 2014 at 1:52 pm
Oh how I wish a retreat like this was available when I was an ED. READ MORE
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Finding balance through sabbatical

Rasmuson Foundation
Biking the Aran Islands. Photo courtesy Peggy Brown.

Biking the Aran Islands. Photo courtesy Peggy Brown.

What would YOU do with a paid sabbatical?

African safari? Visit your home country? Tap into your ancestral roots? Take time with family? That’s the very real – and sometimes daunting – question executives face every year when they’re picked for the Foundation’s Sabbatical Program.  Now in its 11th year, the program for nonprofit and tribal executives offers sabbaticals of two to six months. October 1 is the deadline to apply for a sabbatical in 2015.

Research shows that organizations benefit when nonprofit leaders engage in well-planned sabbaticals. An extended leave can lead to new perspectives for the leader, the board and staff, and often energizes organizational innovation. Stories and anecdotes from recent sabbatical returnees bear that out.

Peggy Brown, executive director, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, spent two months of her three-month sabbatical in Western Europe.
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Who doesn’t love libraries

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO
Many in Soldotna came to celebrate the opening of the new library. In this photo, Senator Micciche makes opening remarks.

Many in Soldotna came to celebrate the opening of the new library. In this photo, Senator Micciche makes opening remarks.

Who doesn’t love the library? Apparently, not many of us, according to a recent report from the Pew Trust, which classified people by their degree of engagement with libraries. It found that 69 percent of the population are actively engaged while just 14 percent of the population aren’t engaged at all. Count us among the highly engaged.

I practically grew up inside my local library in Brooklyn, New York, as did my husband in his in Seward. One recent day it seemed everywhere I looked there was news about public libraries. Browsing on the net, I stumbled on a wonderful video, Why Libraries Matter: A day in the life of New York City’s public libraries. Later that morning, the local paper carried a small announcement about the opening of the new library in Togiak, a project funded in part by a grant from the Foundation.

The Foundation has a long history of supporting public libraries. A search of our awards database came up with more than 100 awards totaling more than $15 million among 38 communities. Yes, Rasmuson Foundation loves libraries.

Last January, I attended the grand opening celebration of the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Soldotna Public Library. The Foundation had provided a direct grant of $395,000 and a challenge grant of $100,000. The whole project cost $6.9 million. The expansion and improvements include contemporary media and communication tools for youth, expanded computer and Internet access, enclosed study spaces and expanded community meeting spaces.

Two links struck me at the community celebration: one between philanthropy and freedom of speech; the other between a community and its library.

What is free speech without knowledge to inform it? To me, public libraries embody, celebrate and feed free speech. Public libraries offer full and open access to the wide world of thought, exploration, ideas, culture, entertainment – all forms of knowledge. And in this country, philanthropy historically has been an important player in the support and proliferation of public libraries.

The self-taught industrialist Andrew Carnegie had the biggest influence in financing libraries in the U.S. From 1900 to 1917, Carnegie’s foundation built nearly 1,700 libraries, on condition that local communities guarantee tax support to maintain them.

But you don’t have to be a Carnegie to be a library philanthropist. That was delightfully obvious in the deep and broad community support for the Carver Memorial Soldotna Public Library. Dave Carey, a former Soldotna mayor and former president of Friends of the Library, composed a poem for the occasion, prefaced by inspiring remarks. See them here.

“It’s very much a community library,” Carey said. “It’s part of our identity and humanizes who we are.”

Rasmuson Foundation is proud to support such a vital and vibrant community asset.


Mary Jo Torgeson says: June 24th, 2014 at 4:09 pm
I brag to librarians in other states about the role the Rasmuson Foundation has played in this state in improving libraries. You get it....you understand our role in the community, as well as understand how we are responsive to needs unfilled by other agencies. Thank you for your continued support of libraries around the state! READ MORE
Ann Myren says: June 24th, 2014 at 10:27 am
Thank you Diane for reminding us that libraries continue to be a valuable community hub and thank you to the Rasmuson Foundation for all the support given to libraries in Alaska. I know it has made a huge difference in Haines and in many other communities around the state. READ MORE
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Artist uses residency to push boundaries

Rasmuson Foundation

This week’s guest post is by Jeremy Pataky, coordinator of Rasmuson Foundation’s Artist Residency Program.

Gretchen Sagan shows her SFAI studio to visitors during the beginning of her residency.

Gretchen Sagan shows her SFAI studio to visitors during the beginning of her residency.

Gretchen Sagan recently returned home from a two-month residency in Santa Fe, New Mexico, hosted by the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) in partnership with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). The residency was part of the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program, which sends Alaska artists to organizations in the Lower 48 and brings Lower 48 artists to Alaska. Sagan was the first of this first Alaska cohort to complete her residency.

The other three Alaska artists serving residencies Outside this year are artist and educator Jimmy Riordan; playwright, poet and director Arlitia Jones; and textile artist Maria Shell. Riordan recently began his residency at Zygote Press, Cleveland, Ohio. Jones will serve her residency in the fall at Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA. Shell’s residency, also to begin in the fall, will be at McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC.

The Artist Residency Program is one element of the Foundation’s Arts and Culture Initiative, a major commitment to the arts in Alaska. The initiative, started in 2003, is designed to strengthen cultural institutions across the state, encourage the development of new work by creative artists, and increase public access to and participation in cultural experiences.
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