Meet the Team

Today’s donors have high standards. Their nonprofit of choice must offer vision, ethics, excellence and impact. Small wonder, then, that today’s nonprofits search out fundraising counsel with those same traits. That’s why we founded K2 Consulting Group. We are fundraising and marketing experts, providing services that differentiate your organization, engage your constituents, build your capacities and achieve your goals.

Kathy Kraas

President and Founder
K2 Consulting Group

Kathy approaches every client engagement with a fresh perspective, open-mind, curiosity and can-do approach. She sees her client’s potential from another point of view and skillfully works side by side with every organization to achieve their ambitious goals.

She brings 20 years of experience as owner of K2 Consulting Group and as a fundraising career professional guiding some of the nation’s most well-regarded nonprofit institutions through periods of high growth and organizational turnaround. As a creative strategist who works well with ambiguity, Kathy has produced results for institutions of every size and sector within the nonprofit world.

How did you become a fundraiser?

My parents will attribute my start to being the top Girl Scout cookie salesperson in Jr. High, however, I owe my career to the Los Angeles Metropolitan YMCA for hiring me as a very young (in my 20’s) marketing and development director for their yet-to-be-opened flagship new Y in downtown Los Angeles. Their exceptional training and mentorship coupled with my determination and ambition were a good match.

How did you gain your skills as a consultant?

Two positions readied me for consulting. Senior leadership positions within the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, a then $80 million operation, and National-Louis University – both complex organizations with 33 branches and seven campuses in three states respectively. In addition to building teams, we were in consultative roles with the individual centers for which we were responsible for developing strategy, providing training, and ensuring that their fundraising goals were met. This included their annual campaigns, a comprehensive $65M capital campaign and individual building campaigns. Both positions required an overhaul of fundraising, building a team and boards, metrics management, helping branch executives learn new skills and coaching them along in their campaigns – essentially the role of a consultant.

What are you most proud of upon celebrating K2’s 20th anniversary?

Three things stand out:

First: I come from a family full of professionals, not entrepreneurs and business owners. I never saw myself as as owning a business but the time came when the decision to form K2 Consulting Group was obvious to me. Upon renewing our license annually, I marvel that the business is still going strong.

Second: I am extremely proud of our work product and results. We’re not always successful in changing beliefs about approaches, however, we receive a tremendous amount of gratitude from clients for opening new horizons, engaging volunteers, coaching staff, and identifying new donors.

Third: I think about the professionals I’ve coached over the years and see how their careers have progressed. This gives me so much pleasure. I stay in touch with many of them and love that.

It can’t be all work and no fun. What do you do when you are not working?

LOL. Not working?

Those who know me well, know that I love traveling nationally and globally. I think I’ve been fortunate to visit 67 countries. It was my Junior year of study in Mexico City that changed my life, gave me an additional language skill, and opened my horizons. I share that love of adventure with my husband, whether it’s adventure travel, a geopolitical, historical, or ecological focus. I’ve maintained my relationship with the family I lived with in Mexico and my Spanish-speaking ability.

I’m also as active as can be in federal and state political campaigns. My field of study at UCLA was Political Science, so I guess you could say I’m pursuing my education in some form.

“… insightful strategist with a can-do approach …”

What have you learned after 20 years of consulting?

Oh, wow, a lot. To be a good consultant you must be constantly in a learning and discover mode, not just about your client, but about yourself. The first learning curve when I started out was the adjustment to being the coach, consultant and mentor not the person charged with the responsibility in the seat. I’ve learned, and am continuously in a discovery mode, of how best to help clients achieve their goals in a manner that is comfortable for them and appropriate to their learning style. We all want quick results, however, fundraising and change management is a process that works when we align motivations, truly hear diverse perspectives, and gain the insights of all of our constituencies including board, staff, clients, patrons, patients, parents. This takes some time.

How do you stay current with new technologies, laws, changes in the field?

First, I am Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) which requires continuous education to maintain the certification.

Second, I owe so much to APC: Association of Philanthropic Professionals. I joined as soon as I could which is after two years in business. Their biannual forums feature guest speakers, industry sponsors and peer exchange of ideas and information. I attend many industry educational events and have received training led by University of Chicago, Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Vanderbilt University, and Board Source. Having become certified by the Institute of Cultural Affairs as a facilitator in the Technology of Participation (ToP) method has provided me a great way to help staff and volunteers plan, come to agreement on priorities and timelines of which they feel ownership.

Anything you would like to add?

I want to thank all of my clients from who I have learned. It’s been a fascinating experience learning about your unique services and industries. Over my career, I’ve been fortunate to stay in touch with many colleagues, clients, board members and donors which has enriched my life tremendously.


Girl Scout Cookie Sales “Top Producer”

Doug Diefenbach

Senior Counsel

Doug’s expertise as a creative nonprofit story teller and marketing guru is a critical compenent to our fundraising success strategies for our clients. For more than 30 years Doug has helped a wide range of organizations develop, meet and exceed their goals for brand visibility, constituent engagement and philanthropic revenue.

Doug formerly served with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, a national network of more than 450 community-based human service organizations. As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Philanthropy he led the intersection of all external affairs and institutional advancement functions, including individual and planned giving, grant writing and stewardship, corporate sponsorships, business development, marketing, public and media relations, government relations communications, content development and graphic design.


Improvisational genius … with a day job

“… a creative story teller and marketing guru …”


Prior to that he served as Vice President of Campaign Strategy and Communications for Advocate Charitable Foundation, the fundraising arm of Advocate Health Care, one of the nation’s top healthcare systems. He directed the foundation’s strategic planning, campaign development and message alignment for its capital campaigns on behalf of Advocate’s 12 hospitals.

Before joining Advocate, Doug was Associate Vice President at Lipman Hearne Inc., where he consulted with a wide array of local and national non-profits on marketing communications assignments including case statements, campaign themelines and brochures, communications audits, marketing plans and institutional positioning initiatives.

Doug is a graduate of Miami University. He founded and led (and until all too recently performed at) The Playground Improv Comedy Theater in Chicago, the nation’s only not-for-profit improv co-op theater, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2017.

Sian Sutcliffe

Associate Consultant

Sian brings development experience, curiosity, and immense professionalism to her role with K2 Consulting Group. Drawing on her background with arts organizations and independent schools, Sian is actively involved in K2’s campaign planning studies, campaign management services, development assessment, and planning projects. Sian’s insights, communications, superb attention to detail and interpersonal skills contribute to a range of client-facing fundraising consulting services as well as behind-the-scenes team support to ensure the highest quality experience for our clients. An engaged listener and active partner, Sian is flexible to changing ideas and needs, a fundamentally important asset in the course of a campaign.

Sian has worked in corporate and foundation relations for the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., as well as Reading in Motion in Chicago. Following her tenure at Reading in Motion, she managed the Lycée Français de Chicago’s development department, including the annual campaign, which increased in revenue by 166 percent in one year.

A native of Toronto, Canada, Sian graduated Magna Cum Laude from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages and Literatures. She received her Master of Arts in Visual Arts Administration from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.

Sian resides with her husband and two young children in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. She and her family can often be found in Museum Campus, with the Field Museum some days feeling like a second home. Sian enjoys volunteering with her children and supporting local charities. She and her husband are actively involved with The Night Ministry, a non-profit organization that provides housing, healthcare, and human connection to members of the community who are struggling with homelessness.


What Our Clients Have to Say

“Kathy…inspired our community to reach beyond where they thought they could go. …She helped the Lycée set, meet and exceed every stretch goal. Her energy, passion and desire…make her exceptional!”

Independent School, Board Member

“In an environment where philanthropy was not a priority and not well understood …the participation in our first two annual campaigns hovered around 98%. An extraordinary success! Kathy…is incredibly smart, has extraordinary instinct and is tenacious and determined.”

Independent School, Head of School

Let’s Get Started.