Launch Indy Member Spotlight: Don Gulbrandsen, Empower Consulting

Launch Indy Member Spotlight: Don Gulbrandsen, Empower Consulting

Once or twice a month, we highlight Launch Indy members and the businesses they’re building. This month’s featured member is Don Gulbrandsen and his new business, Empower Nonprofit Consulting. We asked Don a few questions about his business, his background, and his favorite things.

Q: Welcome to Launch Indy, Don! Can you tell us a little bit about Empower?

A: Empower Nonprofit Consulting is an independent firm focused on helping nonprofit organizations remove barriers to success. The services we offer include grant writing, communications, planning (including fundraising and strategic) and program development, launch and improvement. I’m starting up as a one-person shop but I wouldn’t be opposed to growing this into a larger business if the demand is out there.


Q: What inspired you to create Empower?

A: I switched to the nonprofit world after a long career in for-profit publishing. While I’m a huge believer in the importance of nonprofits for addressing some our most serious problems, I’ve also been surprised by how many struggle with a variety of business-management issues, including budget woes, poor communications and underperforming programs. This shouldn’t be surprising because nonprofits are businesses, but the difference is that when many nonprofits struggle, lives are at risk. I want to put my experience to work helping organizations solve some of their most serious challenges, in the process making it possible for them to change people’s lives in a positive way.


Q: What types of nonprofits can you assist?

A: I’m open to working with almost any nonprofit organization, but I’ve had a lot of experience in—and a passion for—the homeless services field. Despite Indianapolis’s recent prosperity, homelessness keeps increasing. Last year, about 12,000 people were homeless for at least a short period of time, which just isn’t acceptable. I’ve also had experience working with organizations committed to addiction and mental health treatment, affordable housing, environmental quality and job development. If a nonprofit is committed to improving a community and the lives of the people living in it, I’m interested in working with them.


Q: What’s your favorite part about working at Launch Indy?

A: Launch Indy helps me stay connected to and be energized by a wide variety of friendly entrepreneurial types who work in the Union 525 building. This is my second new business launch, and last time I worked exclusively from home. I was successful but felt isolated—phone and electronic communications just don‘t cut it for me. As a result, I jumped at the first job opportunity that came along and folded my business. Looking back, I probably didn’t give my first launch enough time. The social and business contacts and extra energy you get from working at a place like Launch Indy might have inspired me to grow my first one-person firm into something much bigger.


Q: It’s a new year, Don! What are some of your 2018 goals for Empower?

A: My primary goals include lining up some clients and projects and generating revenue! Beyond that, I really want have a positive impact on the community. The reason I migrated to the nonprofit sector was a strong desire to make the world a better place, at least in a small way. Technically, I’m back on the for-profit side, but in running this new business I want to help make 2018 a positive year for people who have hit a bump in the road. So if I can look back at the end of the year and feel like I’ve helped people find housing, get a new job, beat an addiction or even breathe cleaner air, I will consider my decision to launch Empower Nonprofit Consulting a good one.

You can find Don sipping coffee and growing his business daily at Launch Indy. For more information on a membership plan that works for you in our favorite coworking space, visit