Does Your Annual Fund Need a Tune Up?

Posted on 11/15/2017

It’s usually pretty clear when an annual fund is running at peak performance. Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious when one is underperforming. Sometimes a program can appear to be okay when, in fact, it’s not living up to its full potential. This can result in thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars being left on the table.

One of the best ways to evaluate the performance of your annual fund is through an external audit – also known as a “program assessment.” This is a structured review of your operation that can help you to identify strengths and weaknesses and determine where there is the greatest opportunity for improvement. It’s best conducted by a third party or a consultant who, in addition to providing expertise, can remain objective.

In the same way that you don’t need to be a mechanic to recognize that your car is making a “funny noise” or that it’s due for some regularly-scheduled maintenance, you don’t need to be an expert to know that your annual fund is due for a checkup. If you can answer “yes” to one (or more) of the following 6 questions, it’s a sign that it may be a good time for an Annual Fund Assessment:

  1. Have your annual giving results been in decline?
  2. Does your annual fund lack clear priorities or goals?
  3. Does it seem like your annual giving strategy hasn’t changed much in recent years?
  4. Are you in (or preparing for) a campaign?
  5. Has there been a lot of turnover among your annual giving staff?
  6. Are you planning to hire (or have you recently hired) a new annual fund director?

Be aware that your program doesn’t need to be on the brink of breaking down to benefit from a program assessment. Just as regular oil changes and tune-ups can help avoid car troubles in the future, preventative maintenance is the surest way to keep your annual fund in the best possible shape.

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