Raybin — A Marts & Lundy Company

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Development Audit—What Is it?

Because the development office is charged with raising the funds to fulfill an institution's mission, a strong performance is critical. Seldom, however, does staff have the time - or training - to stand back and candidly assess the office's strengths and weaknesses. This is a job that a consultant can undertake with little or no disruption of the office's daily routine.


bulletThe Assessment is a Process

Simply put, a development office assessment objectively weighs performance against stated goals and benchmarks from similar organizations. Through a series of confidential interviews with each member of the staff, the CEO, and key fund-raising volunteers, counsel ascertains what works, what works well, what does not work, and why. Recommendations resulting from such a study help the organization function more smoothly, reach its audience more effectively, and plan its development program's growth.

Development office assessments focus on three areas:

  • Patterns. Statistics about annual, capital, planned, corporate, and foundation giving yield patterns, and patterns lend themselves to analysis. The number of donors at certain gift levels, which foundations will support a particular project, potential matching gift support, percentage of participation – these and other data provide important information about the direction in which a fund-raising program is headed.
  • Structure and Systems. Office organization, gift accounting and stewardship, reporting channels, relationships with other departments (especially the business or financial office), computers, research, and record keeping - these affect an organization's ability to reach its goals.
  • Staff. It is important for someone to ask what staff members really like to do, what talents are lying fallow, who works well together (and who does not), if new job descriptions and salary adjustments are needed, what effect cramped quarters have on efficiency and morale, how (and how long) specific tasks take to complete. Subtleties of "how," "what," and "why" questions often provide the key to improved performance.



Potential Solutions:

  • Some solutions are obvious. A caller forms a positive impression of an organization when the receptionist answers promptly and cheerfully - and quickly connects the call with the correct department.
  • Some solutions are costly. The computer which has not been programmed properly takes precious time to be set right. Similarly, if the system’s capabilities are inadequately understood, it will be underutilized.
  • Some solutions improve relations with donors. Prompt acknowledgments and gift reports give donors (and volunteers) confidence that the organization knows what it is doing.
  • Some solutions improve relations between staff. Ensuring that each member (including clerical staff) understands priorities results in a smooth operation and a renewed spirit of collective purpose.


bulletThe Consultant's Role

By systematically asking questions and analyzing results, a consultant can offer remedies that stem from broad experience with a variety of organizations. Bringing an outsider in to challenge assumptions and traditional ways of doing things can be an invigorating experience, one that energizes people to look at their jobs in different and refreshing ways.