Improve fundraising performance with a development audit

By Andy Canada, senior consultant, Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates

A development audit is a great “barometer” to measure the capabilities of your development office and to establish goals and strategies for future success. This internal assessment is a rare opportunity to get a fresh perspective on a strong development program and can allow you to pause and take stock of how things are going and what resources may be needed to move forward and produce even better results. Development audits can also help solidify an organization’s philanthropic focus by ensuring board, staff and all areas of the organization are working together and embrace a unified culture of philanthropy. Often, organizations seek such an assessment of internal readiness in preparation for a new campaign or as a strategic planning process begins.

A development audit provides an opportunity for an objective overview of your internal development function, including current structure, systems and staffing. The audit process will provide practical advice to position your organization well for a campaign or whatever your next step may be. To be most effective, we believe, audits should include both a qualitative component — built from resource review and interviews with key staff and volunteers — and a quantitative analysis of recent fundraising data.

Here are some questions a development audit can help you answer about your development operation:

  • What is an appropriate level of expectation for the development office?
  • Are we performing to our full potential or are there ways to improve performance?
  • Are we performing to the level of other peer institutions?
  • What is our level of investment to raise funds?
  • Are we utilizing best practices?
  • How does our development performance align with our financial needs?
  • Do we have the appropriate staffing and structure to work with leadership in a cohesive and effective way?
  • How can we position the development office for further success in fundraising?
  • Is the current focus and direction of the development department aligned with the organization’s strategic priorities?
  • If our organization undertakes a new campaign or enhanced fundraising effort, is the current development operation set up to succeed?

View a development audit as an opportunity to move your mission forward. Learn more about using a development audit to help your organization set new goals and advance its development efforts by downloading our tip sheet.


Andy Canada, senior consultant, brings to JGA significant development experience focused in annual giving, planned giving, major gift development, and campaign development and implementation. Prior to joining JGA in 2010, he distinguished himself as development director with both the development teams at Indiana University Foundation and Purdue University, where he participated in significant transformative campaigns.

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