November 29, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Donor Recognition Audits

An up-to-date inventory of all donor-named spaces and available naming opportunities is a must-have for any high-performing fundraising team.

Whether you’re preparing for a campaign, major renovation, or simply trying to improve your naming opportunities workflow, an on-site audit is a smart idea.

This blog post discusses the on-site donor recognition audit process, why the audits are important, and what solutions they provide for your donor relations and stewardship team.

You can't manage what you don't measure

An up-to-date inventory of all donor-named spaces and available naming opportunities is a must-have for any high-performing fundraising team. Yet, many of the teams that we meet come to us with inventories that are incomplete, outdated, or simply nonexistent. Sound familiar? Don't worry; you're not alone.

They, like you, have campaigns to plan and manage, high-value naming opportunities in new and renovated buildings to promote, and limited bandwidth. We're their trusted partner, managing and tracking a portfolio of naming opportunities valued at around $32 billion. Our dedicated Giftmap Audit Team is here to help.

To audit, or not to audit – that is the question

So, your donor relations and stewardship team needs to document all of your organization’s current named spaces and identify the available naming opportunities spread across your entire campus. You know you need a donor recognition audit, but you may be asking, how do I go about it? Do I have the staff and necessary resources available to conduct the audit? How much time will it take? Are there other options available? These are all critical questions to consider, and our Giftmap team offers efficient and affordable solutions through our on-site donor recognition audit service.

What exactly is an on-site recognition audit?

The on-site audit is a service provided by Giftmap that documents all of the existing donor recognition within your organization, in addition to helping you identify new funding opportunities within your spaces. The service can either be bundled with your purchase of Giftmap, a dynamic data and mapping tool that will help you plan and manage all of your funding opportunities and recognition inventories, or it can be set up independently.

There are many advantages to having the Giftmap team on-site to conduct the donor recognition audit instead of deploying your own team. One is that we are well-versed in walking the halls of higher education and healthcare institutions and quickly identifying named spaces and naming opportunities for you. On an average day, our dedicated team of two can typically catalog 300 to 400 naming opportunities. Because of our industry knowledge and familiarity with the process, the majority of our audits are completed in as little as 2 to 5 days.

What information does the on-site audit team capture?

We arrive on-site with our two-person audit team, one equipped with an iPad referencing the floor plans you’ve provided and the other with an iPhone to take photos of all existing recognition and the space where it is contained. The name of the space, room number, floor number, building name, department or service line, and donor information for each individual piece of recognition are also noted. The wording on the recognition is photographed so it can later be transcribed and uploaded into Giftmap for your fundraising team to access. Broken or missing donor recognition plaques are also noted during the audit process and reported to your team.

Giftmap audit team recording recognition

As we work on your campus and document what we find, we can often identify funding opportunities your team may have missed. In addition to the recognition and named spaces already present, our team will collect the same data for areas that are good candidates for future naming opportunities. Courtyards, benches, and other outdoor opportunities are often overlooked, along with alcoves, lounges, and family sitting areas that can all be namable and fundable. Our audit team is trained to search for the completeness of named spaces to ensure that all similar opportunities are being considered. For example, have all the patient rooms on all the floors of the building been identified as naming opportunities?

Often our team is called on to assist with identifying and categorizing spaces that overlap. Where does a particular space begin and end? Are there opportunities inside of each other that allow your team to recognize donors at different levels? Think of these types of opportunities like a Nesting Doll, a patient room inside of a department, inside of a wing, inside of an entire floor, that all exist inside of a building. A similar example in higher education is in a university theater. Start with the individual seats, then the orchestra pit, the stage, possibly a lounge or green room, the balconies, the grand lobby, and finally, the building itself. Naming opportunities within your organization are limited only by your creativity. There are layers upon layers of possibilities.

Why is a recognition audit important?

Generally, this type of audit makes the most sense for teams with large numbers of named spaces to manage. In many cases, it comes down to your stewardship team's available time and resources. Without the knowledge of where a particular piece of recognition lives or what naming opportunities are available for a potential donor, your team simply cannot operate at an optimal level.

A common use case for an on-site audit and probably the most compelling return on your investment is for an organization that is going into a capital campaign or a major space renovation. If there are plans for new construction, it helps to know the donors who were a part of your previous campaigns and who have been recognized for contributions to fund named spaces in the past. Many times recognition moves locations from an old building to a new building, and it is invaluable to have that information prior to the move.

Problems and Solutions

Universities today are managing hundreds, if not thousands, of naming opportunities. One of the biggest challenges that our on-site audit solves in higher education is when a donor relations and stewardship team goes from a decentralized model (each college within a university is managing their own donor recognition independently with their own record keeping) which has been in place for decades, to a centralized system where there is an overarching donor relations and stewardship team for the whole university. That team is now tasked with reconciling where all the recognition is located within the individual colleges. Often they have to deal with a lack of access to records or with records that offer little insight into the history of the recognition or the donor.

In Healthcare, a similar challenge exists as we see systems growing very quickly and acquiring additional hospitals. The transfer of recognition records may not occur with the acquisition of the new hospital. Valuable historical information about the location, amounts, and life cycle of legacy donor recognition may be hard to come by.

So, in higher education and healthcare, if you run donor relations at a system-wide level and want insight into named spaces in hospitals that have been recently acquired or colleges newly under central control, you almost certainly need to conduct an audit of the spaces.

Another widely recognized problem is that most donor relations teams are stretched thinner than ever before. There simply are not enough hours in the day for them to audit all of the named spaces in their buildings. Our professional on-site audit team offers a viable solution to this problem. The importance of assessing the value of named spaces to help fund a building during the planning stages of a capital project campaign can not be overstated. Our clients rely on us to help with that assessment, and in many cases, we can identify new undiscovered naming opportunities. These new opportunities can significantly increase the total value of the campaign.

Let’s Get Started

If you're interested in utilizing Giftmap’s professional on-site donor recognition audit experts, here is some important information we’ll need from you.

• Number of buildings to be audited

• Number of floors in each building

• Estimated number of existing pieces of recognition within these buildings

From here, we can develop an accurate proposal with pricing based on the number of days our team will need to be on-site and the amount of recognition that needs to be recorded. Our Giftmap on-site recognition audit is conveniently packaged into one all-inclusive price. This includes our team's travel and lodging expenses, the estimated daily audit time, and a deliverable upon completion – marked floor plans tied to each opportunity and a database with linked folders of images that can integrate into Giftmap or your own donor management system.

Once an agreement is in place and the scope of work is defined, we’ll send two audit team members to your site for a designated number of days. The amount of time for the audit is based on how long we anticipate it will take to conduct a complete inventory of your existing named spaces and donor recognition signage, along with helping you identify new funding opportunities within your spaces.

Before our professional audit team arrives on-site you’ll need to provide us with the following.

• Floor plans for the corresponding buildings

• A designated guide from your organization to assist our team with access to all the areas included in the scope of work

Example of a typical floor plan provided before an audit

If you are in the planning stages of a capital project campaign, if you need to inventory your existing named spaces and available naming opportunities, or have questions about the process, our on-site recognition team is ready to help.

Members of our Giftmap on-site audit team

Let's Work Together

An up-to-date inventory of all donor-named spaces and available naming opportunities is a must-have for any high-performing fundraising team. Contact us today to learn about our on-site donor recognition audit service.

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