About

Propel Nonprofits was created from the 2017 merger of Nonprofits Assistance Fund and MAP for Nonprofits. The two organizations’ programs were complementary, so the combination provides a more holistic approach to services that meet a larger set of nonprofits’ needs, including the ability to more closely link strategy, governance, and finance and to support nonprofits throughout their organizational lifecycle. Propel Nonprofits serves nonprofit organizations in Minnesota and the adjacent states of Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Read this blog by Kate Barr about how we selected the name Propel Nonprofits.

Vision

A diverse network of mission-driven nonprofits building a healthy, vibrant, and more just community

Mission

Fueling the impact and effectiveness of nonprofits with guidance, expertise, and capital

People talking around a table at Propel Nonprofits' Equity Builder cohort gathering.

Guiding Principles

At Propel Nonprofits, we’re in the business of powering those on the frontlines working for the good of our communities, which requires dedication and a shared vision. Part of our Theory of Change is that when nonprofits are well led, well resourced, and well connected they achieve mission success. As we work toward our mission of fueling the impact and effectiveness of nonprofits with guidance, expertise, and capital, we use these principles as a strategy screen, as accountability markers, and as a handshake, whether you’re new through our door or an old Propel friend.

Champion nonprofits

We love nonprofits – their people and their missions. We are optimistic about their ability and believe in their power to change the world because we see their work in action every day. They are experts at connecting communities for change, bold leaders who take risks, and folks who stand up and take action in the face of injustice. Nonprofits are champions of good; we are champions of nonprofits.

Be a mutual and trusted partner

The work of standing up for your mission takes courage, honesty, and a friend who believes in you. We enter our partnerships with respect and kindness, aiming to be the champion in your corner, a trusted confidant, and the one helping identify the elephant in the room when an issue needs to be named. “Be helpful” is one of our mottos, and for us, this means listening first, then supporting nonprofit leaders’ expertise with our own. We value honesty with empathy, and usually around a table with coffee.

Advance justice

We power nonprofits because they are helping create more just, equitable communities. Nonprofit leaders work beyond themselves to reshape systems that have historically withheld power, address the immediate gaps left by other institutions, and provide access to resources for all. We stand with them in a shared commitment to social, racial, and economic justice; as a community development financial institution, we collaborate to give nonprofits and their constituents access to capital, resources, and ownership of their decisions.

Stay curious

In an ever-changing world, we believe adaptability and creative problem solving come from always having one more question. We love to learn from each other and from our nonprofit partners, and then generously share the insights and knowledge we’ve gained. Nonprofit leaders are experts at what they do, so we’re always building upon our own expertise in nonprofit finance, strategy, and governance to best support them through hard decisions, life cycle pivots, and ecosystem shifts.

Have fun

We embrace joy and emit optimism. This means honoring mission moments, celebrating wins and brave decisions, equipping courageous leaders and standing by them, and bringing enthusiasm and a sense of humor to our relationships and work. We take the long view and surround ourselves with people and partnerships who make us smile and help us imagine the world we’re working toward.

People talking around a table at Propel Nonprofits' Equity Builder cohort gathering.

History of MAP for Nonprofits

Since 1979, MAP for Nonprofits has worked to strengthen the Minnesota nonprofit community by connecting organizations to sound governance, strategy, and finance and accounting practices. In 1979, a group of Twin Cities community leaders proposed sharing the management talents enjoyed by the for-profit business sector with nonprofit organizations to help nonprofits meet growing community needs. Management Assistance Project later became MAP for Nonprofits, and transformed to a staff-model consulting and service group. The Minnesota nonprofit, social, and philanthropic sector relied upon MAP as a trusted resource. MAP worked with hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals each year, building their capacity to govern, lead, identify strategy, and operate organizations effectively. Through consulting and training, its experienced staff members delivered a distinctive mix of services to strengthen the sector and communities.

History of Nonprofits Assistance Fund

Nonprofits Assistance Fund was incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 1998. For the previous 18 years, the loan funds and programs had operated as a program of The Minneapolis Foundation. In 2000, Nonprofits Assistance Fund opened a financial center for nonprofits with the goal of providing extensive training as well as loan programs. Nonprofits Assistance Fund was certified as a Community Development Financial Institution by the US Department of the Treasury CDFI Fund in 2001. In 2005 Nonprofits Assistance Fund changed its name from Community Loan Technologies. Over the years the organization has housed several loan funds, including the Minnesota Nonprofits Assistance Fund® (MNAF), the Minnesota Primary Care Loan Fund, and the Working Capital Fund. In 2008 the programs were expanded to include special initiatives, consulting, and online learning. Nonprofits Assistance Fund program development and loan fund capacity have grown substantially thanks to the support of foundations, financial institutions, business, and federal and state agencies.