How to think differently about the “leaky bucket” model of fundraising

How many times have you seen the metaphor for your donor file: A big metal bucket. Water is pouring in the top, but it’s also leaking out many holes near the bottom.

In a sense, that captures what’s happening. We gain and lose donors. We only grow if we gain faster than we’re losing.

But the Bloomerang Blog points out that our picture of the bucket might be part of the problem, at Let’s Stop Putting Donors Into A Bucket:

The primary reason we have a leaky bucket is because we are putting donors into a bucket.

Instead of putting all your donors into one leaky bucket, consider putting them into smaller, more relevant buckets that are designed to be less leaky.

If you’re treating all your donors the same, you are missing the point for at least some of them. Possibly all of them.

Here are some possibly important categories of donors who should be in their own buckets:

  1. first-time donors
  2. monthly recurring donors
  3. out of town donors
  4. donors who haven’t given in 2 years
  5. volunteers who have not yet donated
  6. donors who have downgraded in the past year
  7. donors who have upgraded in the past year
  8. donors who have active on social media
  9. former employees and board members
  10. donors who have shared negative feedback
  11. peer-to-peer donors
  12. memorial donors
  13. donors who give through a donor-advised fund

Not all categories call for special treatment, but some do. Give it a thought. Maybe you should chuck the bucket!


Comments

4 responses to “How to think differently about the “leaky bucket” model of fundraising”

  1. Now fundraisers can see really cool interactive charts and graphs for all of these data points and a lot more if they simply upload their data to the Fundraising Report Card at http://www.fundraisingreportcard.com. It takes about 2 seconds to upload and it’s FREE!
    Or, if they already use a CRM partner like NEON, Little Green Light or a bunch of others, their Fundraising Report Card charts are available right from the CRM. In other words, they are set-up for automatic, seamless integration.
    Full disclosure… I invented this tool for fundraisers to use for FREE.

  2. Now fundraisers can see really cool interactive charts and graphs for all of these data points and a lot more if they simply upload their data to the Fundraising Report Card at http://www.fundraisingreportcard.com. It takes about 2 seconds to upload and it’s FREE!
    Or, if they already use a CRM partner like NEON, Little Green Light or a bunch of others, their Fundraising Report Card charts are available right from the CRM. In other words, they are set-up for automatic, seamless integration.
    Full disclosure… I invented this tool for fundraisers to use for FREE.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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