A Development Audit is a comprehensive analysis of everything an organization does to raise money from individuals, foundations, and the business community. The audit considers systems, involvement, and results. The report includes both long-term and short-term recommendations. Benefits include: baseline documentation of current activities, small efficiencies, and in some cases redirection of effort to boost results.

Development Audit

Most non-profit organizations think about “audits” as a necessary evil with CPAs combing through the finances, offering opinions as to the state of the organization, and making recommendations about improvements needed. Afterward however, their work is appreciated in subtle ways. The Board has greater confidence in the overall organizational management, funders have a better understanding of how the organization works and the degree to which it is positioned for success, and items that need to be adjusted or improved can be.


A Development Audit works the same way and offers many of the same benefits. The Development Audit looks at all gifts received by an organization over the course of the most recent five years. The audit considers all essential development systems (communications, recruitment, solicitation [including grants], renewal and retention, stewardship, and member events and benefits), involvement (staff, Board, other volunteer, mail, and personal), and results (funds raised, grants secured, renewal rates, and upgrade results). The end product is a written report delivered initially in draft form and presented formally for the Board. The report includes both long-term and short-term recommendations.


Description of Service

Through Development for Conservation LLC, I help non-profit organizations get the most out of their fundraising by comparing actual results to benchmarks experienced by similar organizations. The Development Audit typically involves three days of work including one day on site but may extend for larger organizations. The audit analyzes individual, corporate, and foundation activity and results over the most recent 5-year period and delivers a formal report covering the findings and recommendations. It also includes substantial interviews with all fundraising staff and Board leadership.



  • Baseline Documentation: The Development Audit provides a baseline document from which to measure improving results over time.
  • Efficiencies: The audit can recommend small changes that save time and money without compromising results.
  • Redirection of Effort: Your organizational volunteer and staff time can be focused on the most productive efforts, such as major donor development.



I base my fee on the size of your organization, an estimate of days required on site, and estimated travel expenses from Madison, Wisconsin. The fee includes initial set-up and communication of results and is typically in the $6,000-9,000 range plus travel.


Development Assessment or Mini-Audit

The Development Assessment is an audit-lite for organizations that want most of the insight at a lower cost. The Development Assessment includes document review, database analysis, and in-person report delivery, but does not include the initial site visit or board and staff interviews. The fee for the Mini-Audit is $2,250 plus travel.

David’s recommendations provided a road map that we could follow and at the same time helped us raise more money. In fact, he encouraged us to launch a $1000 giving club. In our first year we raised $80,000 in 8 months. And that is no small thing for a land trust in rural Colorado.

- From Kristie Nackord, San Isabel Land Protection Trust