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I’ll admit it: I have a passion for file audits. (But then again, doesn’t everyone?) A file audit to an organization is like an annual physical to an individual. It ensures all parts, or programs, are working to the best of their ability, and identifies which areas might need a little TLC.

This past week, I had the opportunity to perform four different file audits for four separate organizations. Each audit was vital to the organization’s fundraising plan, in that it allowed us to create clear action items for the organization to focus on during the upcoming year. Take a look at some of our findings:

Organization 1

Diagnosis: Relatively healthy fundraising program with a heavy presence of web donors. The web donors who gave more than once during the first year of being acquired were 400% more likely to still be donors 3 years down the road!

Action Item: Put extra emphasis on ensuring web donors give a second time during the first year.

Organization 2

Diagnosis: Organization has retention issues that are resulting in a large pool of lapsed donors who are not being cultivated.

Action Item: Reengage past donors and help grow fundraising program at a low cost.

Organization 3

Diagnosis: Fundraising program is significantly healthier than last year. Donors are more engaged, net revenue is up, number of gifts per donor is climbing, and retention rates have improved. The average donor heard from the organization 12 times this year, as opposed to six times last year.

Action Item: Continue to increase donor outreach. Although this means a higher cost for the organization, the revenue will continue to grow exponentially, meaning more money for the cause and the operations team.

Organization 4

Diagnosis: Organization has experienced explosive growth in acquiring donors at extraordinary low costs. However, Development office is struggling to keep up with the rapid success.

Action Item: Focus on easing the burdens on the Development office by reevaluating process and finding efficiencies. (We were able to assist the organization with this during our review.)

Although the same file audit and reports were used in each of these scenarios, the outcomes were unique to that organization. It always amazes me how a series of numbers, charts, and graphs can uncover an organization’s key to success.

And THAT is why I love file audits!

Traci Prantner is a Business Development Strategist at Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. To learn about our Masterfile Audit or other ways to guage the health of your fundraising, contact us at Subscribe to our newsletter here. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.