Two short months ago life was normal. People went about their business as usual. An announcement of a virus in China still seemed remote. And the stock market felt impervious to disruption.

But today, the landscape has changed. The Coronavirus has made its way around the world. The numbers of infected people and the corresponding death toll are climbing everywhere. As this new reality took hold, commerce ground to a halt and the stock markets plummeted.

Almost overnight, fundraising shifted gears. Long term projects that didn’t require immediate attention took a back seat to more immediate needs (including checking in with your donors).

Consider a Pivot Campaign to Fund Immediate Needs During a Crisis

For many of our clients, we are recommending that for the moment, their big capital campaign take a temporary back seat to a short term “Pivot” campaign.

Pivot campaigns apply the most effective practices of capital campaign fundraising to short-term emergency fundraising. These 2-3 month-long mini-campaigns can help you raise funds from your largest donors to address specific, immediate needs caused by the disruption of our global health crisis.

Pivot campaigns can take place during an existing capital campaign. In these uncertain times, your campaign is likely to take longer than planned. Incorporating a Pivot Campaign will allow you to fundraise for your most immediate needs without revamping your primary campaign.

An Eight Week Plan for a Pivot Campaign

We’ve designed Pivot Campaigns along the model of a capital campaign but with a tight schedule.

If you know about capital campaigns, these steps will look familiar to you. Think about it as a mini-campaign on steroids!

Week 1: Pivot Campaign – Pre-campaign planning

  • Initial meeting with Toolkit campaign advisor
  • Outline Pivot Campaign goals and objectives
  • Conduct virtual meeting with ED to review goals and objectives
  • Complete Toolkit questionnaire and worksheets

Week 2: Develop Pivot Campaign Plan

  • Finalize goal
  • Develop gift range chart
  • Develop lead gift prospect list
  • Complete depth chart
  • Develop pivot campaign communications plan
  • Develop campaign timeline
  • Prepare campaign report format

Week 3: Prepare Materials

  • Case for support slide deck v1
  • Background statement
  • Prepare meeting report forms
  • Complete on-line pledge form

Week 4: Recruit Solicitors

  • Review campaign plan
  • Edit slide deck
  • Recruit solicitors
  • Provide virtual solicitation training

Week 5: Conduct Virtual Meetings

  • Schedule meetings with prospective donors
  • Meet with Advisor to strategize upcoming visits
  • Meet virtually with top donors and solicit gifts

Week 5: Virtual Donor Meetings Continue

  • Schedule meetings with prospective donors
  • Meet with Advisor to strategize upcoming visits
  • Meet virtually with top donors and solicit gifts

Week 6: Virtual Campaign Kick Off

  • Solicit remaining lead gift donors
  • Announce progress toward goal
  • Broad base email appeal to close gap to goal

Week 7: Completion and Reporting

  • Check in with pending lead gift donors
  • Send second broad base appeal
  • Prepare campaign report

Week 8: Follow Up

  • Report to lead donors
  • Send special appreciation to lead donors
  • Determine next steps
  • Prepare report for board

What You Can Raise Money for Through a Pivot Campaign

For a campaign of this sort to have traction, you should focus not on your organization’s need for money, but rather on the needs in the community that you are well-suited to address. The goals should be as specific and tangible as possible.

Remember that donors want to help in times of crisis. If you can determine the best way your organization can help the community, then you can shape a pivot campaign around those projects.

3 Sample Pivot Campaigns

Here are three examples of pivot campaigns to raise funds for immediate needs during the current crisis.

Example 1: Tuition Relief

A small private school anticipates that many families of children who attend the school will be in financial distress and may have trouble paying their tuition bill for the current term. The school is considering a pivot campaign to raise funds to provide tuition relief for families who lose their jobs as a result of the current situation. Money raised that way will help keep students in the school for the rest of the year and keep the school strong.

Example 2: Artist Stipends

A performing arts organization sees that their musicians have lost their income as concert after concert has been cancelled. Their musicians all rely on performance income to pay their bills. The organization is launching a pivot campaign to raise funds to pay a portion of every lost performance fee for their musicians, helping their musicians remain stable during these times.

Example 3: Virtual Programs and Instruction

With schools out and children at home, many organizations are ideally suited to provide virtual programs for children and even entire families. While a great deal of virtual instructional material is already available, one of our clients provides individual lessons for children. Through that process, they have developed a strong relationship with the families of the children they serve.

Now they are in an ideal position to not only provide individualized virtual instruction for the children while they are home, but also to support their families through this difficult time.

Start Your Own Pivot Campaign

A Pivot Campaign for your organization must take into account the work your organization is qualified to do and the needs of the community you serve.

You will use your Pivot Campaign to raise money from the very same people who will support your capital campaign. The fundraising goal will be smaller and the timetable far shorter. Done right, donors will be happy to support an immediate need even while knowing that they will also be asked to support a much larger capital campaign once things have stabilized again.

Get a FREE Pivot Campaign Strategy Session

Apply for a Pivot Campaign Strategy Session with one of our campaign experts to explore how this approach might work for you.


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