The Fortune Society

Social Services

A Development Audit

Building People, Not Prisons.

The Fortune Society partnered with LAPA to conduct an audit of their development program.

The Fortune Society supports successful reentry after incarceration and promotes alternatives to incarceration, thus strengthening the fabric of affected communities. The organization seeks to foster a world where all who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated will thrive as positive, contributing members of society.

Since 1967, the Fortune Society has been about transforming lives and advancing systemic change. They employ a “one-stop-shop” model of service provision, and they currently offer services to more than 8,000 individuals annually with justice involvement.

The Challenge

The Fortune Society’s CEO, Joanne Page, wanted to know if their development efforts were effective. She wondered if the development program was staffed properly and if their return on investment was the best it could be. She also wondered if their annual gala could raise more revenue using a different approach.

The Fortune Society had already audited their finance program, but they had never audited their development program. In fact, they didn’t even know development audits existed! 

The Solution

To address these critical questions, LAPA conducted a development audit to assess the return on investment for each of the Fortune Society’s development initiatives.

As part of these efforts, we interviewed each executive team member to learn their individual views about what improvements were needed, and in some cases, we circled back for follow-up interviews. In addition, we revised the organization’s case for support to describe the Fortune Society’s vision for the next decade.

After completing our research and analysis, LAPA delivered a comprehensive audit with a development growth plan for the next five years.


Key Elements

  • LAPA conducted a development audit, a 90-day review of the Fortune Society’s development program.
  • LAPA designed a development strategy to raise more private revenue from both major donors and the Fortune Society’s annual gala.
  • LAPA facilitated an executive team retreat for the Fortune Society.
  • At the retreat, an assessment report and development plan was distributed and reviewed.
  • LAPA designed and calendarized a rollout plan to implement the recommended improvements.

The Solution Areas

Specifically, the audit covered these major areas:

  • The organization’s readiness for campaign fundraising
  • Supervision structures: To whom does the development office report?
  • A new development plan: Does the organization have a fresh and forward-thinking plan?
  • Fundraising guidelines: Are the right gift acceptance policies in place?
  • Case for support: Is there a written, vibrant case for support and case statements to support various fundraising needs?
  • Board composition: Does the board have the appropriate mix of skills and talents?
  • Board’s role in fundraising: How is the board involved in fundraising?
  • The development communication structure and processes
  • The role of program staff and volunteers in fundraising efforts
  • Departmental structure: Is there adequate staffing? Are staff members doing the right jobs with the right tools?
  • Functions of the development office: Do development staff members have the time and skills to perform all development functions?
  • Training and educating staff: Is there a commitment to professionalism in the development office?
  • Educating role of the CEO in fundraising: Is the CEO involved in fundraising, and does the CEO communicate regularly with the development office?
  • Systems and procedures: Are they sufficient?
  • Donor database software: Is there an adequate donor software program in place, and are staff members trained to use the program?
  • Procedure manual: Are procedures in place to receive, record, and acknowledge gifts?
  • Hardware: Is there adequate hardware to support development systems and programs?
  • Internet usage and website: Does staff use technology to improve donor relations?
  • Cultivation and stewardship of all donors, with a special focus on major donors

The Impact

LAPA facilitated an executive team retreat to review the development audit and discuss our recommendations for immediate improvements. LAPA calendarized those recommendations and created a rollout plan, and we also wrote a gift acceptance policy that was adopted by the board.

Following this audit, the Fortune Society’s leadership and staff members knew the value of each element of their fundraising efforts. The organization also received recommendations for clear improvements to increase their fundraising return on investment.

Ultimately, the Fortune Society institutionalized new fundraising methods and processes to secure increased unrestricted support. As Ms. Page later reported, “the audit was a historic moment that fostered maturity.”

To learn more about LAPA’s development audit, click here.