nonprofit expert, fundraising effectiveness thought leader, nonprofit management consultant

 See Ellen in Action

Ellen Bristol, President of Bristol Strategy Group, is a nonprofit thought leader in fundraising effectiveness and nonprofit management optimization. She has a passion for helping small to medium sized nonprofit organizations, NGO's, and L3C's build and grow fundraising capacity, adapting classic principles of the process-management discipline to this all-important strategic function.

She is known as a revolutionary disruptor in the nonprofit industry for bringing the science of productivity to the heart of charity and for her research on staff fundraising productivity, the Leaky Bucket Assessment for Effective Fundraising, which has been completed by 1,000+ nonprofit professionals and executives as of 2016.

A classic late-bloomer, Ellen spent the first twenty years of her career selling zillion-dollar computer systems. Only after she launched Bristol Strategy Group did she discover her true calling; building organizational capacity with a focus on the revenue-generating function.

Since that big “aha!” moment, she has become a performance-management geek and a nut for metrics.

Along the way, she has:

  • Developed the SMART Way™ methodologies, an innovative, strategic approach to managing nonprofit revenue generation based on classic business-process disciplines, with variations for nonprofit fundraising, social enterprise, and for-profit businesses;

  • Designed and launched the Leaky Bucket Assessment for Effective Fundraising, the single largest study of fundraising staff performance in the nonprofit sector;

  • Implemented Fundraising the SMART Way™ for dozens of nonprofit organizations;

  • Developed Fundraising the SMART Way™ Certification program, training nonprofit consultants to use and implement her ground breaking fundraising effectiveness techniques. 

  • Authored Fundraising the SMART Way: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity, known as an eye opener to even the most seasoned fundraising professionals;
  • Co-authored The Leaky Bucket: What’s Wrong with Your Fundraising and How You Can Fix It, with Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE, both available on BSG's Shop, Amazon, and the AFP Bookstore;

  • Created the SMART Fundraising Game, a light-hearted way to show staff and board what fundraising is really all about.

  • Partnered with DonorSearch to bring affordable donor prosepect reserach to small to medium sized nonprofits through Bristol Strategy Group. 


Recently, Ellen collaborated with her grandchildren to write a children’s book called Morton the Marvelous Monster. Her eight-year-old grandson only agreed to participate if she promised to split the proceeds with him. He's still waiting for his first royalty check.

Fundraising SMART: How It Works!

Contribute to the Research Study While Gaining Insights Into Your Own Fundraising Effectiveness. Take a Complimentary Leaky Bucket Assessment.