The Power Of Fundraising Assessments

As #fundraisers, we always think about making our fundraising programs better. Our success relies on the fundraising priorities we set and the choices we make. But how do we know which strategies can move the needle and have the greatest ROI? What tools and techniques can we use to evaluate where we are and which priorities we need to set moving forward?


An important tool for fundraisers is a comprehensive #fundraising assessment and #audit of your organization's key fundraising areas and operations.

Benefits of assessing your fundraising program

An examination of your organization’s fundraising program provides fundraisers and organizational leaders with an opportunity to reflect upon your current fundraising program, explore beliefs and assumptions, evaluate your fundraising data, and assess the weaknesses and strengths of your fundraising efforts.


By nature, every fundraising program has room to grow, and an internal fundraising assessment or independent fundraising audit can identify and highlight areas with the greatest potential.


The assessment or audit will help you develop targeted strategies and set priorities to enhance your fundraising. The recommendation: assess your program annually and invest in an in-depth analysis every few years.


Areas to evaluate and use for your future planning:


1-Your donor base:

  • How many donors does your organization have?

  • How do your donors interact with your organization?

  • What can you learn from your donors’ giving histories and levels of support?

  • How many are individual, institutional, or corporate donors?

  • What foundation gifts are from family foundations?

  • Where do your donors live?

  • What are your donor acquisition, attention, and retention rates?

  • Do you have a fundraising moves management process?

  • What are your organization’s fundraising metrics?


2-Your fundraising efforts and programs:

  • How do your donors like to give?

  • What percentage of gifts were solicited in person?

  • How do you identify and qualify a prospect?

  • Who is involved in the solicitation process?

  • How do the annual fund or planned giving perform?

  • What are your fundraising campaigns and funds such as board giving, major gifts, fundraising events, giving clubs and societies, membership programs, direct response, online giving?

  • What fundraising and giving programs are most successful and have the greatest ROI?

  • Do you have a written fundraising plan?


3-Your fundraising infrastructure and resources:

  • Who is part of your fundraising and development team?

  • In what areas does your team excel, and what skills would be great to add?

  • What does your professional development and training look like?

  • Do you have up-to-date job descriptions?

  • What policies and procedures support your fundraising efforts?

  • How does your CRM and fundraising database support your work?

  • What kind of fundraising reports help guide your work?

  • What prospect research resources support your fundraising efforts?

  • What is your fundraising budget?


4-Your cultivation and stewardship efforts:

  • How do you thank your donors?

  • What are your strategies for different groups of donors, including first-time, recurring donors, major donors?

  • How do you recognize donors?

  • Who is involved in your cultivation and stewardship efforts?

  • What engagement opportunities do you offer donors?


5-Your board-staff partnership:

  • What does the partnership between professionals and volunteer leaders look like?

  • What are the roles and responsibilities?

  • What does the board expect from the staff and vice versa?

  • How do the board and staff work together?

  • Is there a development committee?


Fundraising assessments certainly require efforts, time, and resources. However, the ROI - Return of Investment - is significant.


How to: Internal assessment or independent audit?

As mentioned earlier, you can conduct fundraising assessments with your fundraising team and staff. To get started, develop an assessment plan that reflects your organization’s fundraising environment and is built upon best practices in fundraising. Develop good questions, be ready to challenge assumptions and to seize future opportunities.


You can also consider investing in an independent fundraising audit that will evaluate your fundraising efforts and operations, and gather feedback from staff and key volunteer leaders to provide you with an objective analysis of your fundraising program and short- and long-term recommendations.


Tanja Sarett, MA, CFRE, CVF, is a global fundraising consultant, facilitator, and executive coach based in New York / New Jersey. She activates team-centered innovation and creative and synergistic solutions for visionary organizations and philanthropies. Tanja is an onsite and virtual facilitator, trainer and executive coach, an AFP Master Trainer and a 21/64 Multigenerational Giving Advisor. She brings to her work a wide range of collaborative and creative techniques from IDEO Design Thinking, Liberating Structures, the Technology of Participation, and the Agile community.

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