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What is Pivot Fundraising? And How Do I Do It?

By March 20, 2020September 18th, 2020Communication, Fundraising


How are you handling your new job of pivot fundraising?

A movement in which the player holding the ball may move in any direction with one foot, while keeping the other (the pivot foot) in contact with the floor.

Lori’s definition of PIVOT FUNDRAISING
Conversations, actions & movements fundraisers make, with grace and ease, to raise money in a previously unimaginable direction.

So, pivot fundraising is our new work. There is too much we don’t know. And, frankly, it may be sometime before we have solid answers.

How to do pivot fundraising?

1. Be prepared for constant change.

2. Assume positive intent for actions people are taking.

3. Communicate clearly.

4. Dispel myths about your funding, your services, your clients’ needs, etc.


6. Ask these questions BEFORE you write, call, or send a communication:

• How do we/I want people to feel?

• What do we/I want them to do?

• By when do we/I want them to do it?


Here’s a beautiful comment I received yesterday after sharing my recommendations about how to raise money in times of fear & uncertainty:
“It was healing to hear words of energy and positivity. We all will keep each other buoyant in the days, weeks, and months to come” ~ Christina.


A FEW FAQs – I’ll keep these coming over the coming days

Click to download

Question 1
Since I am giving folks the lay of land today with what we’re doing and logistics and that we have postponed our gala, should I make an ask with this first email? 

Lori says:
It depends on your mission on whether or not you ask in your initial communication.

YES, include an invitation to take action – if you are doing basic needs work.

Download an example of an excellent “immediate ask” email sent on March 17 by Interfaith Outreach.

Pay close attention to your subject line. This one was: Are you hungry to help?

Keep your language warm and conversational:
In times of uncertainty, we see the best of our community emerge. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all who have asked, “How can I help?”

If you are an environmental, arts, advocacy, animal shelter, school, or one of many other important missions I advise immediate email, social media & website messages that update & educate.

If you are an environmental, arts, advocacy, animal shelter, school, or one of many other important missions I advise immediate email, social media & website messages that update & educate.

Next, take a time to create your new contingency fundraising plan. Download this excellent template created by one of my clients to get you started.

Question 2
How often should we email folks during this time?

Lori says:
Excellent thought and question.

Make a plan. Update your plan as new developments unfold. And be prepared to change your original plan.

I don’t believe in too much communication unless it’s uninspiring and begging.

Hourly is too much.

Daily may not be if you are serving a very vulnerable population.

Rule of thumb:

Update about changes. But, before you hit send, ask, “would I want to receive this message right now?

Question 3
Should we send email or regular mail?

Lori says
Do both.

Some of your donors prefer mail. Others get all of their information via email. Communicate in the way they prefer. You don’t know how they prefer to receive your messages? Now is the time to find out. Put volunteers to work to help you.

PLUS, for any message you need to share you’ll want to add phone and/or text, webcam, social media.

We are in uncharted waters.

Our sector has notoriously not sufficiently invested in technology. It’s time to make a change so we can rise to the occasion to do our important work in the coming weeks and months.

One hesitancy about mailing is this: Think carefully about what you mail. Your message may have changed in the time it takes to draft, print & mail.

TWO ONLINE RESOURCES to help you navigate your pivot fundraising job:

What’s NOW Possible? March 31 – Four hour online fundraising & communication workshop. We’ll make a plan for how to meet your fundraising goal this year.

Storytelling for Turbulent Times online class – Six week online class to craft powerful fundraising messages during this unprecedented moment in history. Two cohorts – 4 organizations each starting March 26 or April 7.


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