The Leaky Bucket Nonprofit Blog

What's the Deal with Development Audits?

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 @ 10:57 AM

Why conduct a development audit? What is it anyway?

Development audits are in-depth analyses of what's happening in your fundraising shop - and what some people in the organization think is happening (or not). Opinions about such audits run the gamut from hate, fear and distrust to enthusiasm and delight at insights gained. We recently launched our new SMART Way Development Audit, and tailored it to respond to both the "delight" party and the "hate, fear and distrust" party. 

Since we're addicted to research, we surveyed nonprofit professionals about their opinions on audits. Here's what we discovered:

  • The two things people FEAR THE MOST about Development Audits 
  • WHY people want to conduct Development Audits, in spite of their fears
  • Whose voices SHOULD BE HEARD when doing these audits, and...
  • Are Development Audits just another way for fundraising consultants to wangle more money out of their clients?? 

If you'd like to see our video series on this topic, check it out here.

Thoughts About Development Audits

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Tags: Board, fundraising productivity, development audits

Have a Great Year-End - Without Spoiling 2017 Fundraising

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 09:28 AM

Yahoo, it's the end of the year! Let's all go bananas with our year-end campaigns!!!! Why not? You do it every year, right? So that means you should keep on doing it, um, er, right? You are being a good nonprofit leader. Aren't you?

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Tags: raising money, fundraising productivity, Fundraising the SMART Way, year-end giving

Seven Strategies to Pinpoint High-Quality Donors

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 @ 02:08 PM

SEVEN STRATEGIES TO PINPOINT HIGH-QUALITY DONORS

Though virtually all donors are valuable and vital to your organization, high-quality donors are those supporters who can make an extra impact on your cause. They are most likely to be “ideal” donors not only in the size of the gifts they make, but in terms of the degree of engagement, their match to your organizational values, and their sheer desire to be involved that they demonstrate to you. 

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Why Social Media is a Game Changer for Nonprofits in 2016

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 11:43 AM

What's the biggest secret weapon to give you fantastic fundraising results? Can ya guess?

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Tags: social media for nonprofits, fundraising productivity

Pipeline Is NOT Equal to Forecast. Explain

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 @ 02:30 PM

Does your forecasting feel like this? If so maybe we need to rethink things. One of the things I want to rethink is the difference between the pipeline and the forecast. 

The PIPELINE isn’t the same as the FORECAST. Even though we have almost always squished these two distinctive concepts into one, they're really not the same.  But there's an unquestioned assumption at work here.  

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Tags: pipeline, Sales, donors, Pipeline management, capacity building

Fundraising and My Cousin Judy

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 @ 01:28 PM


How My Cousin Judy Taught Me About Fundraising - and Never Knew She Did

When we were kids, I used to envy my cousin Judy no end. When we were in high school, she was never without a date on the weekend, while I sat home feeling sorry for myself. Judy was pretty and cute, but not stop-traffic gorgeous; not a cheerleader; not wealthy; she didn't drive a snazzy car, but she always had boys lining up around the block, dying to spend time with her. And no, she didn't put out!!!

Years later, I finally asked her what her secret was. Know what she told me?   "I never worried if I was good enough for them. I just wanted to know, is this guy gonna be good enough for me?" 

What a lesson.  I've never forgotten it. And here's why you shouldn't either.

  • You're already "good enough" for them.
  • Your organization and its mission and programs are already "good enough" too. 
  • And it's "their" problem if they haven't figured it out - and your problem if you haven't told the world.

Let me explain.

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Tags: effective fundraising, nonprofit

Fundraising the SMART Way: Hard Data about Fundraising Productivity

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Sun, May 03, 2015 @ 01:40 PM


Hard Dara about Fundraising Productivity

Our Leaky Bucket Assessmen, open since April 2011, has revealed significant gaps - "leaks" - in the way large proportions of nonprofits manage their fundraising efforts.  The data is troubling indeed. While we know and honor the brilliant dedicated work of many outstanding fundraising professionals, we recognize that many more nonprofits could improve their financial situations by adopting some basic management tools to improve accountability and performance.
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Tags: Leaky Bucket, Fundraising the SMART Way

Who's In Charge of Fundraising?

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 @ 01:20 PM

Hey, fundraising professionals - who's your boss?  I'm pretty sure I can guess your answers.  You're most likely reporting to one of the following humans: your director of development;your executive director/CEO; or your board. Ask a simple question, you get a simple answer, right?

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Tags: fund development plan, Fundraising the SMART Way

Fundraising: Who Are You Raising Money for, Exactly?

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 07:45 PM

When it comes to fundraising,who are we raising the money for, exactly? I think we're raising it for our donors.

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Tags: Fundraising the SMART Way, donors, cause marketing

Fundraising and the Tin-Cup Mentality

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Sun, May 04, 2014 @ 03:12 PM

This posting is about the tin-cup mentality, and my strong desire to get rid of it once and for all. The tin-cup mentality is the state of mind that says "We're a poor lowly charity! Give us your money because we need it!" Rather than signalling your value to the world, or inviting others to celebrate your triumphs, the tin-cup mentality emphasizes your neediness. Shouting about how poor you are does not inspire confidence among philanthropists, who are your investors. Who wants to make a bad investment? It also gives rise to a terrible fundraising habit, namely, "Let's raise whatever we can and then figure out how to spend it."

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Tags: raising money, tin cup, panhandling

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