The Leaky Bucket Nonprofit Blog

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?


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.  


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.


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.

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?


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.


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."


Why We Need a Fundraising Revolution

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 @ 11:06 AM

The data are in: nonprofits need better fundraising performance. AFP's Fundraising Effectiveness Project 2013 reveals that gains of $769 million from new, upgraded current and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of $735 million through reduced gifts and lapsed donors. Even worse, gains of 866,000 new and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of 909,000 in lapsed donors, for a loss of 44,000 donors. That statistic really hurts; retaining donors is not nearly as tough as bringing in new ones, and the new ones cost you about six times more.


This Woman is Off Her Fundraising Rocker!

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 @ 10:58 AM

Recently the wonderful people at invited me to do a webinar Fundraising the SMART Way: Why We Need a Fundraising Revolution, for about 300 attendees. One comment stood out above the rest: "I've been in fundraising for twenty years, but this woman is off her rocker!!!"


Take the Uncertainty Out of Fundraising

Posted by Ellen Bristol on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 @ 03:36 PM

What's the bigger challenge to fundraising: complexity or uncertainty? Both plague most development shops. Development officers encounter complexity every day. They juggle a zillion prospects, campaigns, events, sponsorships, and reporting tasks, so maybe it's all that complexity that's the bigger problem. On the other hand, uncertainty is also a constant threat, from the development officer's concerns about whether or not Mrs. Richperson's major gift is or isn't ever going to come to fruition, all the way to the board's lack of certainty about the accuracy or timeliness of reporting. And the potential face-ripping that might be encountered by the CEO if the forecast isn't actually met. Ouch.


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