Fundraising Health Check: Conducting a Development Audit

Published on Apr 26, 2016

Fundraising efforts are constant, so it's often hard to pause and evaluate your program. But how do you know where you're going if you don't know where you're coming from? In this hands on, practical workshop, we'll identify the elements of a development audit, discuss quantitative and qualitative indicators of a healthy fundraising program, and walk through strategies to analyze your own program while still managing your day to day.


Fundraising Health Check

Conducting a Development Audit
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Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?

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  • Elements of a development audit
  • Using qualitative and quantitative information
  • Applying analysis

Step 1

Is anything bleeding?
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Are there any emergency funding issues right now?

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Step 2

Global scan
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Step 3

Check the records

Vital Stats

  • Benchmark to internal
  • Benchmark to Giving USA
  • Benchmark to Fundraising Effectiveness Project
  • Budget

Internal Benchmarks

  • Number of donors
  • Average gift
  • Largest gift
  • Top 3 sources for new donors
  • Length of donor tenure
  • Donor with longest history

Giving USA Benchmarks

  • How do my sources track?
  • Used as guidance, not absolute

Giving USA 2018

Growth in Giving

  • Retention rate and average gift
  • Acquisition rate and average gift

Organizational Goals

  • How much are you supposed to raise?
  • How is that amount determined?
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Development Tactics

  • What tactics are already in place?
  • How much do they raise each?
  • What's the cost per tactic?
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Step 4

Talk to people
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Don't rely on the numbers alone.

Snapshots of your donors

  • Common demographics
  • Common psychographics
  • Give the personas names
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Talk to people

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The players

  • Peers
  • People who report to you
  • Board and other volunteers
  • Your boss and his or her peers
  • Other organizational higher ups
  • Donors
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  • Immediate staff
  • Board and volunteers involved with fundraising
  • Major donors
  • Longest term donors
  • Most engaged donors
  • New donors
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What questions to ask?

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  • Why are they there? Why do they give, volunteer, work
  • Why do they stay? How long have they been around?
  • What are their networks? Community connections?
  • Are there potential or existing issues?

Step 5

Identifying problems and root causes
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Which tactics aren't contributing?
What people are creating barriers?

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Allies, Adversaries, Ambivalent

Step 6

Explain and recommend
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Report elements

  • Context and background
  • SWOT (human factors)
  • Target audiences and their characteristics
  • Key players and why
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Report elements

  • Cost/Benefit of individual fundraising tactics
  • Projected cost/benefit of new tactics
  • Recommendations
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This is hard work.
Do I have to do this all the time?

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How to use the audit

  • Full review with interviews every 2-3 years
  • Annual update of cost/benefit by tactic

How to use the audit

  • Every new tactic gets cost/benefit analysis
  • Monthly update of top donor lists

A couple more tips

  • Act like a consultant: schedule evaluation for a finite period
  • Use information from audit to inform the development plan

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Benjamin Franklin

GoalBusters Consulting
@aliceferris @goalbustersjim

Photo by Justin Liew