"Tuesdays with Terry #19" - May 2013

The Fundraising Assessment -- pointing the way to greater success

How do you arrive at a workable plan to improve fundraising income and activity?  Merely hoping to do better is not much of a strategy.

One of the quickest ways is to commission a Fundraising assessment (or Development Audit) for your organization.

Much less costly and time consuming than a Feasibility or Planning Study, an Assessment is particularly useful for those non-profits that already have some fundraising in place.

A Fundraising Assessment evaluates the organization’s fundraising programs and highlights opportunities for
* additional activity;
* better utilizations of time and resources; and
* ways to improve the existing programs.

Essentially, it is a plan of action that answers the questions  “What should we be doing to raise more money . . . How can we utilize/deploy the limited budget and staff that we currently have . . . and who should be doing the necessary work?

Any assessment should begin with as much background information as possible including:
* a five-year financial review of income and expense;
* details of strategic planning or previous studies/campaigns;
* annual reports and program service data (case for support statements);
* staff organizational chart and fundraising budgets;
* Board roster (and board giving results);
* Fundraising materials and results (annual fund/direct mail/special events/major gifts/planned giving); and
* Other materials associated with volunteers, prospect evaluation, record-keeping and communications.

Armed with this information, the Assessment team can begin to formulate questions and add to the base of necessary knowledge.

What usually follows is a site-visit to the organization to more closely examine systems, records, resources .  . . and then a number of personal interviews with key organizational leaders and all the fundraising team. The interviews should also include certain Board members and some top donors or potential donors (8-12 interviews at most).

All the information gained from the Assessment is then carefully analyzed and the recommendations are put forward in both a verbal and written format.

The Assessment Report will usually cover the following headings:
* Evaluation of the current fundraising program with comments on strengths and weaknesses;
* Recommendations for an enhanced program to capitalize on strengths and fill gaps in the weak areas; and
* A calendar of suggested activities with initial budget and resource requirements (usually with potential income projections).

With cooperation from all concerned, the whole Assessment can be completed in the space of two to three weeks.  At the end of it, your non-profit organization has an independent, expert evaluation of activities and potential – with a clear plan of action to improve your fundraising efforts.

If your organization is looking to improve your annual fundraising results, call us.  We can help make you better.


Orginially published August 1992