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BlogIs it Time for a Development Audit?

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co-workers reviewing reports of a development audit

Is it Time for a Development Audit?

What is a development audit?co-workers reviewing reports of a development audit

A development audit is an assessment of an organization’s fundraising program and operations. An audit will examine an organization’s key external and internal areas of fundraising such as annual, major and planned giving activities and potential; stewardship; donor recognition; staffing; volunteer involvement; technology; and allocated resources.

A development audit report will also recommend ways for a nonprofit to be more efficient by identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities within your system and suggesting updates for structuring and processes. At the end of an audit, an organization will be able to develop a strategy and course of action for a fundraising department’s future.

When should my nonprofit conduct a development audit?

Often changes in an organization’s leadership or significant shifts in a nonprofit’s fundraising team or activities may signal a need for a development audit. What is the new leader’s vision for the organization and how does fundraising play a role in the new direction? What skill sets are needed among fundraising team members to achieve your nonprofit’s goals? An audit may be the first step in identifying how to restructure a fundraising department by understanding staffing needs and what it may take to build capacity for an effective team.

Another instance when an organization may decide to conduct an audit is prior to creating a new development plan. Does your development plan need to align with your nonprofit’s new strategic plan goals? Is your nonprofit looking to refresh or enhance fundraising activities? Understanding your fundraising department’s capabilities will help you understand if you have the resources to make changes in your development plan.

A development audit will also uncover your funding sources. Do you need to diversify your revenue streams with a mix of supporters or fundraising activities that will attract different types of donors? Are some fundraising activities more successful than others? Are there initiatives you can incorporate to attract new supporters? An audit will help evaluate current fundraising activities and identify where a fundraiser’s time is best spent in generating revenue for your organization.

Nonprofits that need to raise more funds than previous years due to new programs or initiatives may also consider a development audit. Particularly, if the organization is planning to embark on a capital or endowment campaign soon. An audit will assist in identifying areas to enhance your fundraising operations as you transition to raising funds for a campaign.

If you believe your nonprofit may benefit from a development audit or you would like to learn more about the process, contact Jennifer Rubel, director of fundraising at AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising at

Written by:

Melissa provides fundraising counsel for AMPERAGE’s nonprofit clients, leading feasibility studies and providing solutions that drive successful fundraising campaign results. A Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), she uses her experience and extensive skill set to continually advance her fundraising practices and develop campaign-specific strategies, materials and training to help clients reach their campaign goals and advance their mission. Melissa has vast experience working in the nonprofit sector, having served in development and leadership roles with Sisters of Mercy and the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, she has served as a volunteer and board member with local nonprofits, such as the Catherine McAuley Center. Faith-based organizations and causes are of particular interest to Melissa. Melissa moves the needle by always looking for new opportunities and ways to improve professionally. She is currently president of the Eastern Iowa Planned Giving Council and a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Eastern Iowa Chapter. Melissa holds a Master of Strategic Leadership degree from Mount Mercy University. This busy professional, wife and mother enjoys sports and live music in her free time. A fan of Cubs baseball and Iowa Hawkeye football, Melissa and family enjoy football tailgating, where she’s known for her breakfast burritos. She enjoys the local band scene but says a Foo Fighters concert is her all-time favorite.