We help organizations grow.


Our engagements have directly benefited the neighborhoods & communities where our clients live, work, & play.


Client: National Museum of Gospel Music

Launching a new museum with a nice focus in a south side neighborhood | winter 2018

Where the birthplace of gospel music was once burned down by a fire, former President and CEO of DuSable Museum of African-American History Antoinette Wright plans to create the National Museum of Gospel Music (NMGM), memorializing the history of gospel music in Chicago. With plans for the museum to use its $37-million budget to open by 2020 and to incorporate an auditorium, research library, and space for community use, the NMGM is an ambitious project. PDF partnered with NMGM in order to conduct primary research to set it up with a strong informational foundation.    

Membership perks and packages are essential to museum revenue. Accordingly, PDF set out to find what membership packages NMGM could provide in order to both maximize revenue and incentivize membership the most. PDF conducted deep primary research in several areas: conducting external interviews with other Chicago museums regarding their membership structures, conducting best practices research and compiling several case studies, as well as conducting an internal review with Antoinette. Armed with the comparable information from adjacent museums, along with specific information pertaining to the NMGM itself, PDF proposed three membership structures based off the information we compiled, complete with projections per tier for revenue, member numbers, and perks.

Given the uniqueness and ambitiousness of NMGM, thorough research was required in order to project budgeting. PDF compiled 990 data points from around 60 museums, conductive interviews, and also carried out other independent research in order to accurately project NMGM’s operating budget for the first five years of operation. The research ultimately culminated in a search/filter function that enabled Antoinette to observe how budget breakdowns changed as overall budget size increased or decreased.

Knowledge of NMGM’s target market was also essential for understanding the actual statistics of NMGM admissions. To accurately gauge what kind of and how many people would visit NMGM, PDF conducted a survey across 300 different random individuals, recording their demographics and their likeliness to visit NMGM. Focusing on individuals who were either “Likely” or “Very Likely” to intend, PDF was able to identify certain key demographics more interested in NMGM and relay this to NMGM. Additionally, by looking at the maximum amounts respondents were able to repay, PDF created a pricing table that allowed Antoinette to view how percentage of respondents willing to visit NMGM decreased as ticket price increased.

Client: The Ideal Candidate



Located in Chicago, IL, The Ideal Candidate (TIC) is a non-profit that focuses on providing essential life and professions skills to students to increase their opportunities for employment and post-secondary education attendance. The organization aims to positively impact the communities it serves by providing opportunities to individuals challenged by a lack of resources and proper role models.

Improving the brand image of The Ideal Candidate, a key to success for many non-profits, was central to the organization’s goal to grow and expand in the Chicagoland area. In order to facilitate a strategy that helped improve their brand image, PDF analysed fundraising, growth, and board organization considerations. Through extensive primary and secondary research, we addressed how TIC could sustainably grow revenue in order to fund its growing operations, who TIC should target to grow training revenue, and how TIC should structure its executive and associate boards in order maximize efficacy.

Through primary and secondary research, PDF developed insights into the educational landscape in the Chicagoland area. From the data that was collected and market sizing the Chicagoland area, the team found that a financial restructuring of TIC was necessary. Currently, very little of TIC’s revenue comes from individual donations, compared to the average 75% for other non-profits. However, from our marketing sizing and research, we found that there is huge potential to expand this revenue stream by focusing fundraising efforts on individual donor campaigns because they are the largest source of potential revenue. We provided a donation chart model to help guide their individual donation goals and to specify how many individuals should be within a given donation range in order to meet goals. TIC should also reach out to organizations such as charter schools, youth programs and restorative justice programs that align well on brand synergy, funding, location and commitment level in order to successfully tap the Chicago market. For board organization, TIC should adopt stricter new guidelines surrounding executive and associate board responsibilities. The key focus areas for effective board action should follow best practices surrounding board composition, board operation, board culture, and fundraising.

Client: I Grow Chicago

Helping the peace-house expand and sustain operations | spring 2017


Building off our successful project with Majani Catering- a vegan restaurant in the South side of Chicago- in 2016, PDF sought to connect with another small not-for-profit through the Booth School of Business micro finance group initiative. I Grow Chicago aims to create an environment to connect and belong in order to foster wellness, justice, and dignity for all. Through sustainable farming and educational programs in nutrition, movement yoga and the arts, we foster creativity, wellness and empowerment for individuals in the community as a whole. I Grow Chicago is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed for exclusively charitable and educational purposes. Given PDF and I Grow Chicago’s common mission, we saw IGC as a perfect partner to engage with throughout winter 2017.


IGC has been committed to improving the community by making an impact on people’s environment but faced a unique set of challenges. Given the various and unorganized tasks that needed to be completed on a daily basis, how would daily duties be divided? How can IGC increase revenue without too much investment into marketing? Can IGC quantify and track the impact it is making to improve its mode of operations? Our team worked throughout the winter to ensure that IGC would overcome these challenges and succeed even more.

After weeks of research including numerous interviews with other members of operations in not-for-profits in Chicago doing similar work, calls with consulting experts in not-for-profit turn around, and hours of secondary research, we presented our findings to the IGC board. The final deliverable included an analysis of their finances and finding their main source of income and included suggestions for increasing revenue from core and non-core methods. We also included suggestions for tracking metrics 

on members who frequented the house to quantify the impact being made. We also restructured the organizational structure to allow for smoother flow of operations on a daily basis. Lastly, we offered marketing techniques they could implement cheaply to boost revenues.

Overall, PDF is very proud to have worked with IGC to increase the presence of the peace house and improve the community. We wish IGC the best as they continue to connect with communities across Chicago.




Client: Majani

Bringing healthy, sustainable food to the South Shore community | winter 2016


A resident of South Shore for over 25 years, Chef Tsadakeeyah has been a longstanding presence on Chicago’s South Side. Through his catering business, engagement with Chicago Public Schools, and management of community gardens, Chef Tsadakeeyah has been committed to improving his community by making healthy food accessible. This year, the Chef sought to become a more permanent fixture in South Shore through opening a dine-in Majani location.

As a vegan restaurant in Chicago’s South Side, a vast food desert, Majani faced a unique set of challenges. Could a vegan restaurant succeed in a low-income neighborhood with little foot-traffic? What types of customers are interested in Majani? How can Majani operate efficiently as a restaurant and a catering business? Our team worked throughout the spring to ensure that Majani could overcome these challenges and succeed in the South Shore community.

After weeks of research, including numerous interviews with restaurant owners throughout Chicago and stakeholders in food deserts, a customer survey fielded in South Shore and across the Chicagoland market, and hours of secondary research, PDF presented its recommendations to Chef Tsadakeeyah. The final deliverable included a thorough customer profile, a detailed market sizing and competitive analysis, insights on how to succeed as a vegan restaurant in a food desert, strategies for revenue diversification, and recommendations for point-of-sale software and website vendor.

Towards the end of our engagement, Majani also had the opportunity to submit its prepared food for consideration to be stocked at Whole Foods locations on Chicago’s South Side. The Chef’s vegan dishes were an instant hit, and Whole Foods will be carrying prepared food from Majani at its Englewood and Hyde Park locations. Bringing Majani’s food into Whole Foods both creates another reliable revenue stream for Majani and serves as another way to attract customers to the Majani storefront.

Phoenix Development Fund is exceedingly proud to have worked with Chef Tsadakeeyah and Majani to bring healthy, sustainable food to the South Shore community. We wish Majani the best as they continue to connect with communities across Chicago.

"Your work was definitely appreciated and helped advance Majani... it definitely will pay dividends in the near future!” -- Chef Tsadakeeyah
"We were very appreciative to have you take us under your wing... [PDF] netted us an additional $150,000 in potential sales."
-- Chef Tsadakeeyah, Majani

Client: Brown Sugar Bakery


With PDF's help, Stephanie was ready to successfully launch her second location in Chicago.

With PDF's help, Stephanie was ready to successfully launch her second location in Chicago.

Brown Sugar Bakery, located in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago.

Brown Sugar Bakery, located in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago.

In Spring 2015, our team worked with a bakery on 75th & Calumet – Brown Sugar Bakery – to help the decade-old establishment explore a move to a new community. We met with Stephanie Hart, the bakery’s founder and owner, to define the scope of our engagement, which included: accounting solutions, packaging design, website optimization, and competitive strategy.

Stephanie has been a long-standing member of her community, and Brown Sugar Bakery has been a part of several milestone moments in the Greater Grand Crossing locality. Our team at PDF was particularly excited to work with Stephanie given her steeped involvement with the community: Brown Sugar partners with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services and was recently recognized by the Lupe Fiasco Foundation as a key community partner. Renowned for her caramel and pound cake, Stephanie prides herself on making special occasions that much more special.

Stephanie gained traction with a new competitive positioning and marketing strategy, in addition to technical support with accounting software and store layout best practices.

Stephanie gained traction with a new competitive positioning and marketing strategy, in addition to technical support with accounting software and store layout best practices.

Armed with a directive to help Stephanie open a new store in Chicago, our team began work to confront obstacles the new move might entail. Could the existing sales infrastructure handle new orders across locations? Would the current point-of-sale accounting solution be able to manage inventory and process new customer records? How should Brown Sugar Bakery position itself to cater to a more affluent neighborhood with a significantly different customer demographic? How do competitors package their products?

The bakery’s main problems were largely in line with those faced by small businesses looking to expand, but Stephanie’s unique position as a trusted community partner in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood presented unique challenges. In particular, our team worked hard to maintain Stephanie’s awe-inspiring image – having appeared on numerous food and media outlets – in our final deliverable.

Brown Sugar Bakery's second location in Chicago's Navy Pier is now open!

Brown Sugar Bakery's second location in Chicago's Navy Pier is now open!

After weeks of research, reconnaissance trips to the old and new locations, and frequent debriefs with Stephanie (always with a slice of pound cake as refreshment), Phoenix Development Fund presented Brown Sugar Bakery with our final recommendations. The deliverable included an implementation guide for accounting solutions, a comprehensive overview of packaging options for baked goods, a detailed review of website and logo design, and a thorough competitive and marketing strategy playbook.

The project was a huge success. In November 2016, Brown Sugar opened its new location on Navy Pier. Our deliverable convinced on-the-fence investors to want to finance the expansion. Brown Sugar’s cupcakes were priced, its point-of-sales system was upgraded, and the product display was enhanced in accordance with Phoenix’s recommendations. Thanks in part to our efforts, Brown Sugar’s new location has been profitable, with Navy Pier doubling its projections for 2017. Thanks to the opening, Stephanie tripled the number of people she employs from ten to thirty. Stephanie remains committed to hiring members of her community who were formerly incarcerated; they comprise over one-third of those employed by Brown Sugar.

Through our engagement with Brown Sugar Bakery, PDF is proud to have worked with an organization that shares our vision for community development. We wish Stephanie all the best as her impact on the community continues to grow.