Introducing the Plank Foundation
For most of Plank’s history, we have taken on pro-bono projects of various sizes to support many different causes. While we are a small organization, we have been proud of the impact we’ve been able to offer non-profit and community organizations. About ten years ago, Steve and I even discussed the idea of formalizing our efforts into something more concrete, so we decided to register a URL and promptly did nothing with it.
That’s what happens when you think you can do everything yourself. You can’t.
Fast forward to October 2020, and during a meeting with an old friend, past client and advocate David Moss, a discussion started surrounding our recent pro-bono initiatives. David replanted the seed that we could be doing more and that doing more aligns with our values and goals as a company. As we brainstormed and dug deeper into the topic, it was becoming clear that there was an opportunity to explore the concept of a Plank Foundation again. We eventually agreed that this would be an excellent project for us to collaborate on, so we decided to commission David to take the next few months and develop a Feasibility Study around what the Plank Foundation could and should become.
With David on board to help push forward the feasibility study, he could move forward with some concrete plans. He started by doing interviews with members of the Plank team to get a sense of what resonated with the group and the overall commitment level to the Plank Foundation concept. As I expected, he discovered that, for the most part, the team is committed to doing more than their work, but is mindful that it can and should make the world a better place. Next, we reached out to some key partners and advocates that we know to see what the reaction would be to the concept of the Foundation and the initial direction under consideration. Given the diversity of perspectives, the external consultations gave us ideas we hadn’t considered before. It made us realize that we had to think deeply about what we were aiming to do and be sure that we could effectively do something that no one else could.
The success of the study — and any study, in fact — is not just to affirm things that we already know, but to challenge our assumptions, and discover new ideas to help shape our project. David invested a lot of time understanding the current state of the philanthropic landscape, specifically the challenges that a digitally focused organization like ours could offer. As a result of the pandemic and its damage to all cultural organizations and communities, we were curious about what we could do to affect change and have the greatest impact.
I also had the pleasure of having twice-a-week check-ins over the life of the study, allowing me to be a partner in the project and allow David to get a feel for what it is like to be a part of the Plank team. I wanted to be sure that he heard what we say we are all about and experience it firsthand. I wanted to be sure that we were completely transparent with him.
In March 2021, David shared with us the results of his study and it was fascinating to see the results of his months of research and thought. It was clear that he pulled together a solid vision and set of goals to get the Foundation fully fleshed out and offered us a direction that we can get behind. We can now see what the purpose and mission of the organization should be and we need to come to a final decision on the official mission. If you want to see some of the results of the feasibility study so far, feel free to take a look at our stakeholder update.
The most important thing that we have to do now is ensuring that we build on the work we’ve done during this feasibility study. As a leadership team, the essential first step is to recognize that we cannot move the Plank Foundation forward without the help of our current team, new team members, partners and supporters. To increase our social impact and move the Plank Foundation forward, we are committed to accomplishing the following goals by the Fall.
1. Set the Strategic direction
While we have a general framework for what the Plank Foundation should do and with whom, thanks to the Feasibility Report, we need to commit to the Foundation’s mission. We will summarize the goals and scope of the organization so that anyone involved knows what we will be doing.
2. Establish a non-profit entity
While we are aware that receiving charitable status to accept donations takes a while, we want to start that process sooner rather than later. Our goal is to set up a non-profit organization separate from Plank to run independently eventually. While we want the values of Plank to drive the Foundation, we want it also to be independent of our for-profit business.
3. Develop Partnerships
As a small, humble organization, the Plank Foundation’s success will be based on the relationships we develop and the organizations we partner with. If we can find other like-minded individuals or organizations, we believe that adding to our capacity will greatly increase our ability to affect change and ensure the success of our endeavours. Our goal is to be able to offer as much help as we can to selected projects so that we can develop projects with even more impact that can help multiple organizations and individuals.
4. Build a Team
We recognize that one of the reasons that we have only been able to pull off some humble initiatives within Plank is because the time we could invest into projects was limited. By taking an hour here and there from everyone’s schedule, we couldn’t devote enough time to do much. If we are going to build a real organization with real capacity, then we need to have actual full-time staff devoted to its development and growth. Our goal is to start doing interviews for a full-time coordinator as soon as possible.
The next few months will be exciting as we define the direction of our Foundation and bring onboard our first team member. If you are interested in hearing more as our non-profit develops or want to get involved, we encourage you to reach out to us directly or check back here for more information and updates.
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