In today’s world, non-profit organizations and special events play a critical role in American society. Many non-profits provide essential human and social service programs or act as advocacy agents for a specific issue or concern. Special events provide citizens with literally thousands of opportunities to learn, understand, and appreciate different aspects of our culture. From the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan to the Sun Fest, a music festival in West Palm Beach, Florida to the Portland Rose Festival in Portland, Oregon special events offer participants ‘hands on learning’ or just plain entertainment.
One thing that is common in both the non-profit and special event industries is they are mission-focused on providing the best service, product or experience for their respective clients, be they a struggling single parent, a small business or a person attending their local community festival. Where the non-profit and special event industries are often challenged is in the area of running the business side of the organization. Many organizations are so focused on the external product that sometimes the internal functions within the organization do not operate as effectively as they could.
What does KCG Consulting bring to the table? The principles of KCG Consulting have direct experience in assessing and improving those internal functions that are essential to a successful non-profit or special event. The three partners, Tom Kern, Chuck O’Connor and Susan Olson, have over 60 years of combined experience in the areas of internal performance auditing, operational analysis, revenue enhancement, strategic planning, board governance, customer service training, leadership training, PR/Media services, sponsorship development and economic development services. Together, they can provide valuable assistance to virtually any non-profit or special event organization in the country.
After evaluating options surfaced from a competitive RFP, The Father Fred Foundation engaged Tom to support the sourcing, selection, and hiring of our new Executive Director.
The Board recognized this exercise represented both a mission-critical decision for our organization and a high-profile process in the community that needed to publicly reflect our organization's values of respect and dignity and our ability to conduct business in a highly professional and competent manner. Tom exceeded all of the objectives we set for his engagement.
Three aspects of Tom's work with The Foundation were especially noteworthy. First, through his expert sourcing of qualified candidates, we received over 125 applications for the position – four times the number we'd initially established as a metric for success. Most importantly, Tom kept each of the large number of applicants informed of the search's progress through each step of the process.
We received high compliments from applicants about the positive experience they had in working with The Father Fred Foundation and with Tom, even from those who were not ultimately selected.
Second, even with many applicants, working with a volunteer board that has on average only been engaged in this exercise every five years, Tom kept our published timelines for decision making on track. This required exceptional effort to review large quantities of information and provide summaries that were meaningful to the Board, facilitating decision making. All of this occurred working with the challenges of pandemic restrictions.
Finally, in addition to respectfully managing the applicants, Tom was also able to help manage board dynamics as we worked through our group decision-making process.
Stepping in to provide external experience, advice, and counsel helped the Board keep our discussions focused and moving forward. He suggested we add both a written response component to strategic questions to our process and an external community leader panel interview. In our process debrief, the Board agreed that both of these suggestions added significant value to our process.
In the end, The Father Fred Foundation was able to successfully hire a new Executive Director in a 10- week timeframe using group processes that engaged the full Board.
Ninety days into working with our new Executive Director, The Father Fred Foundation is very pleased with both the process and the results of our work with Tom.
Betsy Aderholdt, Board President
The Father Fred Foundation
I've had the pleasure of collaborating with Tom Kern in our community's private and non-profit sectors for the purpose of strategic planning and executive director recruitment. On both fronts, Tom and the team have delivered exceptional results. His professional demeanor, wide range of experience, and an extensive network of contacts proved invaluable throughout the process. A strength most notable is Tom's ability to provide clear direction, insightful feedback, and transparent communication to all parties. His support to fellow board members and me has allowed us to move into a new organizational development phase. I highly recommend an engagement with KCG Consulting and look forward to our next endeavor.
Charlie Sole - Traverse City, MI
Partner, Hallmark Construction Inc.
Director, Father Fred Foundation
Director, Builder's Exchange of Northwest Michigan
We brought Tom in to do an administrative audit several years ago after experiencing a very bad financial year. He showed us how to save tens of thousands of dollars from our overhead, and more importantly asked questions that caused us to rethink our entire business model. Since that time we have been profitable for seven consecutive years and our budget has grown by 50%, even during the economic downturn. I really believe that without his help that time period would have been a disaster for us, as it was for so many businesses.
I seem to get the credit, but really he deserves most of it.
Paul Jamieson, Executive Director
SunFest of Palm Beach County Inc.
West Palm Beach, Florida
The Chamber, which serves as the holding company for a five-county chamber of commerce of approximately 2000 members, the four-county Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation, and the Traverse City Area Chamber Foundation with more than $5 million of assets, asked Tom to review its operations and financials and recommend areas for savings and areas for revenue growth. In a short amount of time and for a reasonable fee, Tom identified numerous options to save money and grow revenue that it would not have found otherwise. The recommendations ranged from simple implementation to major overhauls of processes. In the end, the Chamber did implement several of Tom’s recommendations that had a significant impact on the bottom line of the enterprise and served as the catalyst for major reorganization of governance, strategy, and staff allocation. Tom’s combination of experience, foundational education, and common sense made him an ideal neutral party to engage in our project. As CEO, I anticipate working with Tom in the future to take another “look under the hood.”
Douglas R. Luciani
President & CEO
Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce
Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation