Is a Development Audit Part of Your Fundraising Strategy?
As a consultant and practitioner in the nonprofit sector, I continually work on a variety of fundraising programs. Regardless of the complexity of the fundraising program, one element is typically common — there has not been a development audit in years.
A development audit involves the creation and completion of a series of complex questions, that when answered, provide a blueprint for potential solutions. I am surprised by the number of fundraising professionals who change positions and fail to launch a development audit in their new organization. Without knowledge of your fundraising program, how can you determine where to begin to improve your fundraising program?
Many development professionals direct fundraising programs without a fundraising strategy. As you create a fundraising strategy, think about your mission, vision and values as an organization. To do this, consider your organization’s fundraising history, present performance, market competition, goals, desired fundraising road map and what it will take to raise your development program to the next level.
A quality audit evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your current development program. In the end, it can diversify your funding streams, restructure your development office and integrate your fundraising program into the total organization. The CEO or executive director, lead development staff, board and others need to participate in the audit. The four activities involved in the development audit are audit goals, development audit questionnaire, supporting materials review, and a plan to address areas requiring improvement.
Consider an audit if you desire improving program efficacy, increasing income, understanding your current resources, knowing how to access resources, initiating a capital campaign, ensuring sufficient staff, and/or strengthening the impression you give to current and prospective donors. It should be conducted every few years, at regular intervals, when a major staff transition occurs or when top leadership transition takes place.
Culture Hive provided a step-by-step approach to the development audit process:
- Understand why you should audit.
- Review, in depth, your fundraising history.
- Review your current ways of operating.
- Examine the potential of what your program could be doing.
- Clarify your fundraising roles and responsibilities.
- Determine if your communications work with your fundraising processes.
- Reflect and examine audit results.
- Act on findings, recommendations and actions.
As a barometer to measure the capabilities of your development office, a development audit can improve your fundraising performance by providing practical advice to position your fundraising organization to meet changing complex issues facing your organization. Audits must have qualitative and quantitative components to be successful. This process can determine if your development office is performing at the correct level, best practices are currently being utilized and your development department is aligned with organizational strategic priorities. View the audit as a means that propels your organization forward.
This objective overview of current efforts can showcase weaknesses in revenue generation that need to be addressed. Additionally, the team can have more confidence in the organization’s fiscal management while funders can be better informed regarding the organization’s revenue potential and case-for-support strategies. The audit concept is a positive tool that must be part of your leadership strategy.
Would a doctor operate on a patient without a thorough examination of the body? The same holds true for a nonprofit. I suggest focusing today on how to launch a development audit. You and your organization will be glad you did.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.