Bristol Strategy Group

The Leaky Bucket: What's Wrong with Your Fundraising and How You Can Fix It

Where Does Your Fundraising Spring a Leak?

Even  some of the finest fund development programs have leaks--pockets of inefficiency that, left unaddressed, will continue to reduce the support the nonprofit organization receives from its fundraising program. The Leaky Bucket: What's Wrong with Your Fundraising and How You Can Fix is a groundbreaking book that shows you how to find the leaks and plug them quickly and effectively.  

This book was inspired by co-author Ellen Bristol's online assessment, the Leaky Bucket Assessment for Effective Fundraising, the largest study of fundraising-staff productivity to date, with over 1,000 responses since 2011. Ellen shares her expertise in ways to plan, manage, and improve fundraising performance based on the continuous improvement method. Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE, adds her 30-plus years of nonprofit experience as practitioner, consultant, multi-published author, and thought leader. These two powerful voices provide a wealth of insights into ways you just might be losing ground in your fundraising efforts, with guidance that shows you what you can do to improve results, right now and in the future.

The authors provide some surprising insights from the Leaky Bucket survey, utilized as a springboard to the discussions throughout the book. Here are a few examples.

  • Only about 23 percent of nonprofits make use of a documented ideal-donor profile. If that’s you, you’re at risk of wasting precious time and money on unqualified donor prospects. 
  • Only 27 percent track their donor renewal rates. If that’s you, you might just miss out on major gifts from loyal donors.
  • Only about 22 percent have an up-to-date case for support.
  • Just 45 percent of respondents have a strategic plan.
  • Only 56 percent use any form of donor-management software.

This book is a must-read for every nonprofit fundraiser, senior executive, and board member. Raising money is truly mission critical. The authors detail every area where your agency can improve results, not just for today but for year after year after year.

Here’s what readers are saying:

I wish I had The Leaky Bucket when I first started my development career. Insider tips and techniques combined with common-sense applications add up to a phenomenal blueprint that should be required reading by every fundraising or development professional. Lynne Viccaro O'Leary, Vice President – Marketing at Teachers Federal Credit Union (TFCU)

I’m delighted to see The Leaky Bucket available to us. It’s a much-needed resource and a very welcome one. Andrew Watt, CEO, AFP International

Ellen and Linda explain the critical best practices of fundraising in an artful and accessible way. Their insights have helped our board press the “reset” button and start over the right way. I’m telling all my nonprofit colleagues, "This is the book you have to buy next." Elly Du Pre, Executive Director, Lighthouse of Broward, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

About the Authors

Ellen Bristol, president of Bristol Strategy Group, works with nonprofit organizations to improve their fundraising effectiveness, raise income, and involve their boards more effectively. Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE, is an international speaker and the author of more than a dozen popular books on fundraising, including Fundraising for the GENIUS.