When you can benefit from a fundraising audit

Date Published
01/29/2019
Author
Debbie Merlino

Regardless of whether or not you have an ongoing relationship with a Fundraising agency, there are times when you are likely to benefit from a fundraising audit. At its core, an audit is simply an in-depth inspection, typically performed by an outside body.

Engaging an outside professional to undertake an audit is valuable because they can bring a critical eye to an existing program, while staff may be too close to a situation to find their way to an alternative. Or maybe your team is suffering from a minor case of “that’s how we’ve always done it-itis.” A trusted partner can bring a fresh perspective, offer a candid assessment of your program, and make recommendations for improvement.

As it relates to fundraising, the three most common types of audits are:

  • File Audit
  • Program Audit
  • Digital Audit

A comprehensive File Audit should include insight, not just data.

File Audit – A set of trend reports that typically looks at activity over a 5-year period. Different from individual campaign results, a File Audit is a more macro view of your fundraising program. Typically, this will include reports such as Revenue by Lifecycle, Topline Donor Count & Revenue by Year, Lapsed Reactivation by Recency, 5-Year Donor Value, Upgrade/Downgrade Reports, Gift Frequency, and Retention Rates. In addition to the reports themselves, a comprehensive File Audit should include insight, not just data. The result of which is an evaluation of your fundraising program’s strengths, identification of any weaknesses, and recommendations for taking advantage of untapped revenue and growth opportunities.

If you’re looking to turn around a program with declining performance, then consider a Program Audit.

Program Audit – While any program can be audited, those that tend to benefit the most are discreet programs such as MidLevel Giving, Sustainer/Recurring Giving, or Membership Renewal. In a Program Audit of this type, you supply samples of creative (print & digital), along with results and a summary of the current strategy – including audience segmentation and ask string/offer. The outcome of an audit of this nature is a report detailing findings, insights and a series of actionable recommendations that can help lift response, increase efficiency and ultimately generate more revenue – in some cases it may even include revised creative. If you’re looking to turn around a program with declining performance, then consider a Program Audit.

If you’re concerned that your organization hasn’t already established key performance indicators (KPI’s) for all your digital fundraising/marketing activities, then you might want to give a Digital Audit serious consideration.

Digital Audit – If you’re concerned that your organization hasn’t already established key performance indicators (KPI’s) for all your digital fundraising/marketing activities, then you might want to give a Digital Audit serious consideration. A Digital Audit will help identify if you’ve been needlessly emailing stale names, wasting valuable time in low-traffic social, or missing mobile conversion opportunities. A full digital audit includes a review and analysis of: Email list health and creative performance, social marketing and website effectiveness, attribution setup and benchmarking. As with all audits, the Digital Audit will include actionable steps that you should take in order to achieve better e-file hygiene, enhanced segmentation, improved email design, testing recommendations, as well as ideas for website and form conversion improvements.

Regardless of the type of audit you embark on, you should expect to receive a list of actionable steps that you can take to make improvements, jumpstart your program, and put yourself on the path to success.

About the Author:
Debbie Merlino
President
Agency Services

As President of Agency Services, Debbie is responsible for overall client satisfaction. She works to ensure AFG’s winning strategies are being shared throughout the organization for the benefit of all our clients. Debbie is frequently out on the road sharing insights with others and listening to your challenges so we can develop solutions.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I get to meet the best people and hear their stories. Hardly anyone says they planned to work in development. Learning how our clients found themselves in this profession and hearing the stories of the people they serve is inspirational.

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

Attempting the life of a freelance journalist, working in a bookstore, and/or doing a podcast for my own enjoyment.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

Making people laugh. It’s thrilling! Especially when done purposefully and I’m on stage ; ) I also enjoy yoga and a well-crafted cocktail.

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