Despite having the third lowest population in the nation, the state of Alaska has an unusually dense social sector. According to the Foraker Group, Alaska has nearly 7,000 registered non-profits statewide, almost one for every 100 residents.
Following the lead of Alaska’s largest industries, the Rasmuson Foundation and Foraker Group started encouraging a model of shared services. For example, not all non-profits have the staffing capacity to handle their own bookkeeping or human resources, and the Foraker Group offers these services at a reduced cost. An emerging technology firm, DesignPT, delivers specialized IT services solely to the social sector.
Taking a bold step in this model of shared services, when The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) had outgrown its space in downtown Anchorage, and moved into a much larger office in the city’s midtown neighborhood, ACF offered a portion of their new space to seven other foundations and social sector consultants. The Alaska Community Foundation, Pick.Click.Give., Anchorage Park Foundation, Alaska Children’s Trust, Pride Foundation, Alaska Kidney Foundation, Denali Daniels & Associates, and Rider Consulting all joined ACF to create what is now known as The Philanthropy Hub at The Alaska Community Foundation.
The Philanthropy Hub is a new model, and only in its first year. The Alaska Community Foundation along with community advocates Robin Smith and Eric McCallum took the lead on bringing in philanthropic organizations like Pride Foundation and securing furnishings from ConocoPhillips into the Hub. “You can leverage many things within a community besides money,” said McCallum and Smith in ACF’s recent annual report.
On its surface, The Philanthropy Hub is able to share resources, including administrative support, an information technology platform, state-of-the-art conference rooms, and office supplies. At a deeper level, sharing interpersonal resources elevates the philanthropic synergy among the various foundations and consultants and amplifies the profiles and work of each partner, including Pride Foundation.
“I love working in The Philanthropy Hub,” said Heather Beaty, Pick.Click.Give. program manager. “Since Pick.Click.Give. is a vehicle Alaskans use to make donations from their Permanent Fund Dividends to their favorite charitable causes, it is wonderful to be co-located with some of the nonprofits on our list.”
With the exception of Pride Foundation’s Seattle office, this is the first time regional staff has co-located with other philanthropic organizations in such an intentional way. And while innovation hubs and incubators are common in other sectors, it is still a new concept for the social sector and in Alaska. Yet, in the short time since its creation, The Philanthropy Hub has already inspired new connections and partnerships.
Now that we have settled in, we look forward to expanding our collaborations with the other Hub partners and building on all of the unforeseen opportunities that will likely emerge. For Pride Foundation, being a part of The Philanthropy Hub is a strategic way to raise the profiles of the visionary leaders and groups that are transforming their communities across Alaska.
Josh Hemsath is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Alaska.