Avoiding Surprises

Development audit maze imageOne of the more frequent questions about the development audit process is ‘when and how often should an organization consider undertaking this endeavor?’ The answer is at least every three years and always in conjunction with a strategic plan, particularly if a capital/endowment campaign is contemplated.

You know what you want to accomplish, but is your organization – as it stands now – able to achieve those goals? Are there surprises hiding around yet-to-be-turned corners?

Those answers can be found in the Development Audit.

What is included in the development audit? An in-depth look at the factors that will affect the success of your future fundraising plans includes a close examination of:

      * previous development efforts (including their successes and failures);


      * the current development plan and performance expectations;


      * staff, volunteers, board, potential and current donors’ roles within the development plan as well as any gaps in your team; and


    * communications programs.

This is not a plug for Mersky, Jaffe & Associates or any other consultant, but an audit of this type is more honest and successful when run by an outside source. Personal relationships, fear of repercussions, as well as the consideration when opening confidential documents all affect the results of the audit when attempted “in house.” Just think of all of the thoughts about your workplace that you don’t currently tell you boss or co-workers.

A development audit can also be helpful if you are unsure what you could achieve with your current staff, lay leadership and volunteers. Such an assessment is an opportunity to determine whether you are deploying your human assets to their fullest potential. Additionally, you will learn how to capitalize on the resources you have that may be under-utilized. Structure, management and efficiency are all aspects to be explored.

Fear Factor
One of the leading factors for not conducting a development audit (albeit not usually a public reason) is the fear factor. ‘What if I am considered inadequate to the task?’ ‘What if my job is restructured in a way that I do not like?’ ‘What if I have to fire or hire people?’

Those may be real fears. But, to be paralyzed by them results in stagnation. Progress can be scary, but the results will be exhilarating.