We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Ben-Horin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I feel so grateful to have stepped into my role as Executive Director with the nonprofit organization, Wander Project, in January of 2020. I had run a startup organization in 2014 for a few years and have worn almost every hat imaginable within the nonprofit sector. However, my work up to this point was primarily focused around youth development and education. Wander Project’s purpose and theory was relatively new to me. Our mission is to engage with athletes and racing events to support local communities by inspiring fundraising and service. Basically, we partner with already established events to offer a peer-to-peer fundraising platform and athlete support in raising additional funds and awareness about the local issues within communities across the United States. Typically, with in-person events, we work to engage local organizations in sharing some of the challenges their community is facing and how they seek to address these needs. These organizations are then invited to apply for funds raised from the event through a simple grant process. Last year, we surveyed athletes to identify what projects they would like to see funding go towards (since ultimately, they are the ones reaching out to friends and family to raise these funds). They identified three project areas that were important to them, including: preservation and conservation of public lands; education around local ecology and stewardship; and promotion of health and wellbeing. Once the pandemic hit, we were able to quickly pivot with our racing partners and had the opportunity to be involved in one of the biggest virtual runs in the history of virtual runs, the Virtual Running Club’s Stay Home Half! With this shift, we were also able to adjust the projects we funded and expand the communities that we were serving. Now people are running events in their “Backyards” and so we opened up fundraising to include ANY community beneficiaries within an athlete’s community. Within the first 5 months of the COVID 19 pandemic, Wander Project’s athletes were able to raise over $53,000 for their local community beneficiaries! In 2020, we supported 20 organizations that focused on providing food and basic necessities, 16 organizations that work towards preservation and conservation of public lands, 8 organizations that provided support to health care/frontline care efforts, 7 youth focused organizations, 5 small businesses, 4 organizations that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, 1 domestic violence shelter and even 1 horse rescue! The most inspiring aspect of the past year is that most of our donations are smaller donations (we had 2110 $10 donations in 2020), however by reaching out to friends and families of the athletes participating in these events, we have been able to engage and empower a mass of individuals in making a difference! So, even though my first year as the Executive Director of a new nonprofit was far from what I expected, I have never been more inspired by the power of dedicated athletes to making positive change in the world!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career in the nonprofit sector started probably about 14 years ago. I knew that I wanted to make a difference with the work that I did and that I wanted my purpose to also be passion driven. I have always found jobs that allow me to share my passion and strengths with others…and if I couldn’t find a good fit, I just created a program/organization to help fill the gap. Throughout the years, I have had amazing mentors that have challenged me to reach beyond what I thought was possible and encouraged me to share my gifts with the communities I have had the opportunity to serve. It has not always been easy but I have realized that when things seem to flow (with minimal resistance) that I know that I am on the right path. I have learned the value of pivoting when things are not working and that patience is so important to make long-term and sustainable change. I think overall, my passion is to connect people to each other, their personal strengths and to the places that inspire us to do more! I am grateful for all of my work experiences and for my most current position as Executive Director for the Wander Project, because I feel like I get to live my passion daily!!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Head to the mountains!! I grew up in Colorado, just outside of Denver and the mountains were where I found my home. But, if I was in Denver for a day in the summer I would probably hit up Water World and then try and grab dinner at Las Delicious before heading back up to the mountains.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate this article to the amazing athletes that choose to do more with their passions! Along with the amazing race companies Wander Project currently works with including: Vacation Races, Virtual Running Club, and Navajo Yes