The Architects and the Answer
“With ProCFO Partners we’re looking at our services, looking at our margins, which is something we’ve never done before. It’s a relief to have that partner.”
President & CEO
CEO Brenda Asare describes The Alford Group as “architects.” The Alford Group in Chicago helps non-profit and not-for-profit organizations advance their goals, advance their missions, and deepen their impact in communities.
“We pretty much cover the spectrum,” Asare says. “Any kind of nonprofit, small and large, we work with them to advance their goals. We work with corporations who are leading with their heart, looking at the intersection of purpose and profit.”
For the Alford Group, this can mean assisting with new capital projects and building, fundraising capacity, strategic planning, working with Boards and staffing. For Brenda Asare, it’s been 17 years at an organization going on 43 years. The last seven she’s spent as President and CEO.
“Organizations seek us out when they feel a need to build what we call their ‘culture of philanthropy.’, Asare describes. “They’re trying to figure out a project or a vision. And they need an architect to help them figure out – how are we going to fund this? How should we structure ourselves? What should be the case for support? Why would someone give us a transformational gift to fuel this vision? They need a partner in helping them figure out how to advance their dream.”
Why The Alford Group Engaged a Part-Time CFO
For The Alford Group, it was the retirement of a full-time Controller that sent them in search of financial leadership. A networking relationship between Asare and Haleh Fardi, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at ProCFO Partners, came to mind. “I find Haleh’s perspective to be one where she always brings enlightenment,” Brenda recalls. “She makes knowing about numbers fun. So I felt like I wanted to work with a woman who’s running a company, where it’s not just about the numbers, but what’s the story behind the numbers.”
Putting their financial picture in context was important to The Alford Group as Haleh and CFO Byron Kanaley got involved.
The Value of ProCFO Partners to The Alford Group
Brenda laughs as she recalls an early meeting, where Haleh asked: What’s your vision?
“My Vision? I’m like – Haleh, I just want to know that the books are done! I don’t want to question it or wonder what we’re missing.”
Haleh responded: Why?
Digging into the story behind the numbers – the why – is a hallmark of the FGC Financial Flywheel™ approach that ProCFO Partners takes to financial leadership. It’s only with an understanding of a company’s vision that strategies and goals can become meaningful and relevant. Focus drives energy.
It wasn’t long before modest ideas of bookkeeping were giving way to strategic planning and a five year vision. “I’m so grateful Haleh did that,” Asare remembers. “That she didn’t just turn it into a one-and-done, counting dollars and not really helping us think more strategically.”
Ultimately, she says, working with ProCFO Partners has helped The Alford Group better understand how they do business, why, for whom and to what strategic goal. Not unlike the consulting The Alford Group delivers to its own clients.
“It’s a Relief!”
With their CFO Byron Kanaley, The Alford Group has been looking at their business in brand new ways. “We’ve been doing a lot of data crunching,” Brenda shares. “Looking at our services, looking at our margins, which is something we’ve never done before. It’s a relief to have that partner.”
Kanaly is helping Asare and The Alford Group understand the continuum of going from data to understanding to knowledge to action. Most CFOs stop at data – reports, numbers, financials and metrics. ProCFO Partners gives the metrics meaning, which for The Alford Group is driving strategy, pricing, even service and solutions offerings. “It’s been like going back to get my MBA again,” Brenda says. “It feels good because it’s relevant to how we work each and every day. I’m very grateful for this additional executive education.”