Annual Fund Assessment

Is your annual fund growing in donors and dollars?

A strong annual fund is the backbone of any successful development operation. And growing your program’s results is possible, even in these difficult economic times. Effective planning and goal setting can provide a road map to success for you and your staff, help you make the most of your resources (or make the case for greater investment), and guide your decision-making in an uncertain environment. By building a comprehensive plan for this fiscal year and a vision for the future, you can align your staff, your volunteers, and your donors in a common view of the priorities and take steps to achieve results.

We provide the expertise, support, and focus to help you design a plan that engages you, your staff, your advancement department, and your stakeholders in a process that will position your program in a new way. The plan will identify milestones to reach and methods to evaluate your success.

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Do you know exactly what steps to take to reach your Annual Fund goals for the coming year?

Our comprehensive internal assessment consists of an in-depth evaluation of the entire program. We examine previous annual fund results, existing reports and solicitation materials, written plans, timelines and processes. We then interview annual fund staff and other advancement staff members who play key roles in the success of the program to evaluate the organization’s systems that support fund raising overall including database management, volunteer management, prospect tracking and reporting, and procedures for gift processing, acknowledgement, and recognition.

In addition to the traditional written report providing observations and recommendations, we develop action plans that are specific to your organization’s current situation and needs and focus on achieving the greatest impact possible for your organization. We then provide on-going counsel all along the way to support your implementation.

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Do you know if you are on track to reach your goals?

The ability to benchmark results each month or each quarter is determined by the data you are keeping and the reports that present that data. As part of the assessment process, we work with your existing data systems to help develop templates and reports designed to evaluate progress throughout the year as well as identify trends for comparison from year to year. Our experience with other organizations can provide you with the “reality check” of your performance compared with others, and help set realistic, but ambitious, goals.

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Do you know what your number one priority is, the one that will have the greatest impact on your results?

Annual giving programs have seen a dramatic shift in the past few decades as the number of solicitation options have increased, the variety of tools has grown (segmented and personalized direct mail, e-mail solicitations, online giving, automated phoning programs, social networks, etc.), and the technological requirements to support those initiatives have become more sophisticated. It takes time, attention to detail, and careful planning to ensure these programs fit together effectively and also relate well to the marketing and communications, personal engagement, and solicitation efforts taking place across the organization as a whole. As part of our assessment process, we take a holistic view of the entire annual fund program, evaluating the strengths and areas of opportunity within each program area in order to achieve the greatest impact in the most efficient way possible. Recommendations are designed to help you focus on the core activities that will help you reach your short-term goals while continuing to develop the programs and activities that will serve as the foundation for the future of your program.

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How long does it take to complete an annual fund assessment and what is the process?

Phase I: Information Gathering

We provide a materials checklist to gather historical background on program results and samples of recent communications. We find this initial process often leads to helpful insights into the kinds of reports your Annual Fund staff can use to make even more powerful decisions that will enable the program to meet its goals.

Phase II: Site visit or Virtual interviews

The second phase of the assessment is a chance to hear from every member of the Annual Fund staff and other staff who have an impact on the Annual Fund’s results. A thoughtful approach to the visit (or virtual interviews) allows us to engage stakeholders in the assessment process and helps to begin the process of creating energy and enthusiasm for new ideas, initiatives, and changes.

Phase III: Report of findings

We take the time to review everything gathered from our initial materials review and our conversations and create a report that reflects observations and recommendations that are specific to your program. We believe in creating a set of recommended changes that are actionable, realistic for your organization, and grounded in the best principles and practices of Annual Funds. We will show you a preliminary report and allow for a dialog to emerge ensuring you receive a report that will lead to action. We will prepare a presentation on our findings for your staff and/or volunteer boards and present it, as you request.

Phase IV: Support for implementation

The fourth phase includes consulting time to assist in the implementation and execution of a written plan. We want to be sure to build on the enthusiasm for change and provide assistance to help bring new ideas and increased results to your program.


A written vision for your program, an action plan, and expert advice to help you and your team make it happen.

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