As consultants, we help nonprofit organizations

    to be sustainable in their operations

    and effective in their missions.


    Our Unique Approach


    Whether yours is a not-for-profit, a business, or both, tomorrow takes careful planning. It's all about making sure tomorrow is sustainable. Perhaps our unique approach can help you.


    • We work intently to see the world from your vantage and we listen carefully to learn -- before working toward solutions.  From that perspective, we can help you solve problems you didn't know you had.
    • We search for uncommon causes to persistent problems and help you move thinking "5 degrees off center" in seeking best solutions.
    • We share our expertise and discovery at all phases of the relationship. Each moment is a teaching opportunity. Sharing what we know (with you) is a joy and a passion.
    • We're serious about the numbers. We will help you identify the key indicators of what is happening in your business or nonprofit; understand their importance to your operation; set-up measurement on a regular basis; and make decisions based on what the numbers tell you.


    Planning without execution makes no sense. Neither does execution whose energy is derived  solely from fancy.


    The budget is not just a collection of numbers but an expression of our values and aspirations. (Jack Lew)




    Why It Matters


    How an organization responds to economic uncertainty can define the difference between thriving, and closing its doors. Fortunately, the right response is not that difficult.

    • If a not-for-profit is to thrive in the years ahead, it must no longer assume business as usual. Everything  it does must be approached with purposeful intentionality. Winners will not be winners by chance.
    • Understanding a business is more than knowing its revenue trend. Until you know the numbers, decision making will always be a guess.
    • When the numbers say "Loss!" no amount of denial will ever extrude a profit. MISSION absolutely demands MARGIN!
    • Key performance indicators have a personality. They LOVE to answer questions. Try it out . . . ASK!
    • Continuous learning is the byproduct of enthused management. Therein lies both cause and remedy to many of the issues facing nonprofits today.

    And If Your Nonprofit Operates

    a Business

    • Every square foot of retail space represents a cost of one sort or another. The goal is to understand cost specifics, then to generate a greater revenue.
    • Your business will be operated either as a business, or a mission. And it demands that you choose. Whichever perspective, great results always presume 'business' best practices. 
    • Business growth is not simply the product of a well-built business plan — it is the result of feedback, adaption, and a slavish customer-centric focus.

    The competition is purposefully getting smarter every day. Are you?



    Return on Investment


    "Talon Company brought incredible value for what we paid them — far beyond what we expected!"


    "I asked Talon Company for recommendations that we could implement immediately and some we could put in place over time. Rus delivered many creative ideas on both counts. My staff enthusiastically jumped right in on the short-term recommendations — which bore fruit nearly overnight. This is so important, because the great results they achieved made them want to implement the other ideas too. I realize it is rare for a consultant to have such a dramatic impact right away, but Rus and his team are clearly uncommon in this regard."



    "When I look at what we paid Talon Company and what we have already reaped, it is evident that Talon delivered a staggering amount of value!" 


    Established in 2007, Talon Company's goal is to help nonprofit organizations and small-to-medium businesses become more effective in their mission and more profitable in their business(es). It was founded on the core conviction that organizational sustainability will increasingly require accountability for meaningful service outcomes, and more direct responsibility for income generation.


    Talon's nonprofit business consulting helps clients develop a systematic approach to business growth and profit-taking. Each offering is uniquely designed to help organizations and businesses develop the skills, tools, and business strategies needed for ongoing self maintenance. Its probative approach helps leaders quickly unpack issues relevant to problem resolution.


    Talon Company is deeply experienced in the nonprofit world and can offer a wide range of organizational services. These include:

    • Strategic Planning
    • Fund Raising
    • Program Planning
    • Performance Metrices
    • Organizational Sustainability Audits
    • Interim CEO Assignments (for varying lengths of time, e.g., 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc.) 
    • Operations Review
    • Performance Assessment Methodologies
    • Board Development Seminars/Training (one-half day, full day, or multiple)
    • Business Rescue
    • Resale / Other Business Operations Review (Start-up through an in-depth analysis of key retail indicators. Sales analysis and training. Store management training.)                                                              
    • Staff Incentives Planning


    WHO IS TALON COMPANY'S BEST-FITTING CLIENT? Organizations and businesses that are dissatisfied with the status quo and are seeking growth-oriented outcomes.








    "I needed this."


    "I did not realize the power and vision a board needs—and should have!"


    "It was an excellent review and I learned

    some new things as well!"


    "We will be tweaking some of our bylaws

    to strengthen some things."


    "Rus has a real gifted way of explaining things."





    "Rus' breadth of knowledge in resale was truly exceptional!

    Bringing Talon Company services to our store was a great decision

    that justified the cost many times over."

    (JB -- CA nonprofit board member)


    "If the only good I got from the two-day on-site audit was

    the consultant's immediate comments, I would have more

    than justified the cost of services. But I got more. Rus's formal

    presentation of findings and recommendations helped us

    begin to make serious dollars." 

    (LT - Retail store manager)


    "Rus's counsel has been invaluable to the success of our ministry.

    His revealing insights come from obvious academic preparation

    and years of executive experience." 

    (JM — nonprofit executive director)


    "Talon Company is big into common sense strategies and solutions.

    I would recommend this company to anyone!"

    (BT — nonprofit executive director)






    Here's what REALLY makes us tick.


    • Continuous Learning. Only as we demand of ourselves a higher level of up-to-datedness at all points of engagement can we provide our clients with the tools and resources needed to lead healthy, prosperous, dynamic organizations and businesses.
    • Integrity. Our word is our bond and we will make no claims of likely effect if we do not believe truly that we can deliver.


    • Opposing Opinions. Multiple thought streams purge the shortsightedness of a single perspective. Differing opinions multiply alternatives in pursuit of a best course.


    • Consulting As a Teaching Opportunity. Highest use our expertise is when it is shared in a practical application. We do not consider our knowledge as proprietary and will share it as often as possible.


    • Time As a Stewardship Obligation. We try never to take our clients' time lightly. Moments wasted are opportunities lost.


    • Work As "Fun." We are thrilled with every chance to be of service to our clients and take real delight in what we do. If our business ever becomes an obligation, we pledge to close shop. Life is too short to be wasted in non-fulfilling pursuits!



    CALL US AT (815) 230-1881


    Rus Kinzinger

    Principal & Consultant


    Rus brings more than 30 years as chief executive of various public and nonprofit organizations to his work as principal and consultant for Talon Company. During the latter years he started several retail thrifts and consulted with multiple executives on issues ranging from business startups to complex growth strategies.


    His personal philosophy? "To help others do more."


    Rus’s substantial creativity and relentless pursuit of the exceptional helped him develop a unique expertise in the fledgling field of nonprofit business development.


    He has guest lectured at several colleges and universities as well as served as adjunct professor of management, sales, advertising, and personnel.


    In 2002, he was a candidate for the Illinois State Senate, has an MPA from Northern Illinois University (NIU), and did Ph.D studies at both NIU and University of Florida.


    As Talon Company's leader, Rus challenges clients to keep aggressively abreast of the changing dynamic of nonprofit funding. He says that extraordinary times require nonprofit leaders to probe proactively for non-traditional funding streams. Aggressive leaders will add business opportunities as a distinct category of their daily environmental scan. "Success is rarely accidental: it must be pursued aggressively, and with knowledge."


    Rus subscribes to the Code of Ethical Conduct as adopted by the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers.


    Rus can be contacted at RKinzinger@TalonCompany.com

    14 Graystone Ct.

    Bloomington, IL 61704



    Ideas to stimulate your thinking



    Ready to Start a Business? Answer These 5 Questions First


    The idea of self-support intuitively appeals to nearly every chief executive of a nonprofit organization. It conjures-up longing thoughts of escaping “the man,” and evokes hopeful images of self-determination. But is social enterprise right for your organization, and for that matter, do benefits outweigh the inherent costs?


    Here are 5 important questions to ask before you do anything else.

    1. Is a business in line with the organizations’s core values and mission? One of the great benefits of a new initiative is that it forces leadership to articulate the core principles upon which an organization is built. Do you know yours?
    2. Has the organization built support for a business? Have you discussed your business idea with key staff, and do you have their support? Where does your board align on social enterprise? Take the time to build a concensus. In the process, listen carefully and watch closely to see if anything might signal that the idea should be left on the drawing board.
    3. Does the organization have capacity to run a business? Who will lead the business? Does the organization have the accounting skills in place to handle a business? Be careful not to let natural enthusiasm cloud your judgment. Move boldly, but proceed with caution.
    4. Is the organization financially ready? This is essentially a balance sheet question. Will your organization’s financial health support a business proposal? Can you cash-flow the business while it gets up and running? Can you borrow if not? For that matter, where does your agency stand on the subject of borrowing? (It has been said that the highest use of an asset on the social side is an outcome, and the highest use of an asset on the business side is a revenue.)
    5. Is the organization prepared to operate its social enterprise as a business? Remember, whether you introduce a social or environmental outcome into the mix, or not, social enterprise needs to return a profit. A thriving business is a sustainable business. In the words of a friend of mind: Mission requires margin. And nothing will more energize an organization than a profitable step in the direction of self-determination.

    Good luck! Talon Company is always ready to help if the need arises.



    Positively Gross!


    I don’t usually position myself to overhear conversations, but recently I did so. Two managers were discussing their store performances and I wanted to hear what they said. Both were excitedly exchanging percentages of sales growth and speaking of the bonuses they were sure to get at the year’s end. That’s when I moved in for a bit more of the conversation. What I heard surprised me—sort of.


    You need to know at this point that I expected to hear these managers speaking in excited tones as they talked about sales. Both ran successful businesses and both managers had attractive, well-run stores. What surprised me as their conversation continued was that neither manager said anything about the net—they spoke only of the gross. And judging from their years with their respective stores, their optimism for a bonus was probably warranted. After a bit more time to satisfy myself that I was getting the full picture, I wandered away, neither lady aware (hopefully) that I had conducted a little research while they spoke.


    Here’s my finding, and it’s a simple one I’ll admit: Gross sales are sexy . . . but if you focus on the gross alone, you’ll do so at your peril. Gross sales point to a store’s performance, but it’s the net that determines whether you’ll be in business tomorrow. It is not what you bring-in that matters, it’s what you get to keep. Go ahead—celebrate a great return! Just be careful to remember that a great return is only half the picture. It’s the other half that will determine whether you remain in business.



    Turn Sensory Inputs Into Sales


    The next time you are visiting your favorite apparel store, inhale! That’s right, stop what you’re doing and take a long, long sniff. Notice anything of interest? Chances are you’ll discover a distinct smell. Whether you have noticed it before or not, that smell is part of the store’s distinct brand, and it is part of the brand cocktail that brings you back to the store time and again. I might even go so far as to speculate that if you were led blindfolded to the store, you would be able to identify where you were based solely on what the sense of smell told you.


    Sensory marketing is a way of describing the form and function of marketing which has as its goal to create awareness and influence consumer behavior via the various sensory channels to the decision center, i.e. the brain. Whereas I mentioned only the sense of smell, there is also sight, taste, touch, and hearing. Sensory marketing seeks to influence consumer buying behavior through each. One of my favorite retail stores, for example, encourages the shopper to “Please touch.” When I do, I buy. The more senses a retailer can engage, the more likely a consumer is to make a purchase.


    Your business not exempt from the benefits of sensory marketing. Done properly and as part of your store’s distinct brand, the customer can be fully engaged upon entry. Remember, however, that marketing effectively via the senses is purposive. It does not just happen. What emotion or memory do you want to evoke with smell? Will any aspect of your offering be complemented by a particular scent? What about sound? Will what the customer hears in your store benefit his or her purchasing choices? What about sight? Taste? One way or another, your customers can identify you through their senses.


    Engage their senses and you will increase your sales.



    9 Steps for Making Your Day More Productive


    Unmanaged time is opportunity lost. Distinguish your store with accountability in this all-important area. Here are 9 practical tips for gaining mastery.

    1. Stand up and gradually move toward the door when it is time for a scheduled visit to end. The message is polite, but unmistakable.
    2. Meet unwanted visitors outside your office and talk there.
    3. Say “no” if you don’t have a minute.
    4. Rearrange your desk so that the natural line of sight is not out your office door.
    5. Write less—phone more.
    6. Stand up when the ideas stop flowing. Doing so can recharge the process.
    7. Clear your desk of distracting material.
    8. Set time limits on meetings. Stick to them!
    9. Require reports to be one page only.

    (Check back frequently for more Quick Tips.)


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    Rus K



    Random thoughts from the start of my day . . . and jotted on a napkin

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