Amplify Mission Network connects business experts with emerging nonprofits to help extend their reach.
Nonprofit organizations exist to help improve communities and the lives of people who live in them—but getting a fledgling nonprofit off the ground can be an incredibly daunting task. A group of business experts in Edina is working to change that, offering support in the form of coaching and connections to nonprofit leaders.
“We’re like a Christian Shark Tank, except our business leaders give their time, talent, experiences and networks to move emerging nonprofits to the next stage of their growth,” says Julie Eide, president of Amplify Mission Network.
Making the Pitch
As on the hit show Shark Tank, startups (in this case, nonprofits) prepare a pitch for a group of business executives. But instead of financial investment, they receive mentorship and resources. The project began in 2018 at the former Colonial Church in Edina (now Meetinghouse Church), when a group of business leaders wondered how they could increase their impact.
Amplify volunteers are current and former CEOs, presidents and other leaders “who pursued success in the first half of their careers and are now looking for significance,” Eide says. “They have all this knowledge and want to put it to use.” She calls Minnesota the “Land of 10,000 Nonprofits,” where Amplify fills a gap—connecting nonprofit leaders who might have little business experience with mentors who can guide them in creating strategic plans, building networks and more.
So how do emerging nonprofits get connected with Amplify’s help? There are just a few requirements to apply; the organization must be based in Minnesota and classified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. After its application is approved, nonprofit leaders receive three months of coaching sessions with three Amplify “partners” (the business leaders who volunteer to share their expertise), along with support from Amplify’s small staff. At one of Amplify’s quarterly meetings, they give a 15-minute presentation and end with a strategic call to action, where they ask for the support they need.
The partners in attendance discuss and brainstorm, and those who want to get involved connect with the nonprofit leaders to help them implement their plans and ideas. “They get access to experts in fundraising, marketing, development, team building and more,” Eide says, noting the goal is to help the nonprofit operate in a sustainable way long into the future.
Kiley Benson is the executive director of Be Kind 2 People, a nonprofit that helps connect individuals with the support they need during and after crises, from addiction to divorce to illness. “We started focusing on access to mental health treatment and evolved into a food-access partner during COVID[-19],” Benson says. “We offer a plethora of resources around the idea of sustaining somebody’s path.”
Benson was accepted to the Amplify process a couple of years ago and says the knowledge he gained there is priceless. “As a nonprofit leader, you often have to gather mentors that you can learn from as experiences come up,” Benson says. “Amplify expedites that and puts you in a room with those leaders … You quickly learn those things you can’t buy.” He says Amplify mentors helped him sharpen the central messages of Be Kind 2 People, which in turn improved fundraising, operations and more.
Getting Leaders Involved
Eide also encourages local business leaders who want to give back to get involved with Amplify; a simple sign-up form is available at amplifymission.org. “One of the coolest things is to see what happens after the presentation,” she says. “People bless each other by showing up. We really show up.”
Eide herself is a lifelong Edina resident, and the imprint of the community is apparent all over Amplify Mission Network. Partners and founders include the founder of MinuteClinic, the former CEO of General Mills and several members of Edina’s Christ Presbyterian Church, where Amplify now meets.
Although the organization is faith-based, Eide says an “outward-facing” religious mission isn’t required of prospective nonprofits and business leaders, who may wish to volunteer. “We set a really big table, and everybody’s welcome …. The people we’re working with serve everybody, and we support that.”
This month, Amplify Mission Network hosts its annual fundraising gala, Never Alone, featuring keynote speaker Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit Mount Everest. The event is the primary source of funding for Amplify, and attendees are treated to the keynote, a performance by Known MPLS Choir, a dessert reception and more.
VIP reception at 6 p.m., primary event at 7 p.m. September 19; Christ Presbyterian Church, 6901 Normandale Road; 612.210.6049; Information and tickets at amplifymission.org.