Before the world turned upside down, taking your campaign public was a fairly straightforward process. You completed a successful quiet phase with 50-70 percent of your goal in hand, held a celebratory kickoff event, and trumpeted your public phase goals to every relevant audience.

But in an age of virtual gatherings and economic hardships, when and how should you go public with your campaign?

First let us consider the question of when. The pandemic has caused widespread layoffs and financial distress to millions of families, impacting their philanthropic decisions. Specifically, we have found that mid-pyramid donors—those capable of making major but not transformational gifts—along with prospects toward the bottom of the pyramid—those annual donors who’d be targeted during the public phase—have been affected more than those at the top of the pyramid.

As such, it is perhaps prudent to extend the lead gift phase while concentrating on raising gifts from your top prospects. Instead of going public with 50-70 percent of the target raised, you might be closer to 80-90 percent. And that’s fine. Launching the public phase with more dollars in hand will demonstrate great momentum toward the finish line and reduce pressure to raise money from those most hurt by the pandemic economy.

Now let us consider the “how” of going public. Obviously, large events such as groundbreakings and black-tie dinners are not possible these days. Instead, organizations are beginning to shift their marketing focus when approaching the campaign launch. One way they are adapting is including a greater intensity of outbound communications. At its most basic, the purpose of the campaign kickoff is celebration and information. Additionally, more publicity and advertising to announce funds raised, the organization’s intentions, donor acknowledgement, and project progress might be warranted, and will get the job done. And using virtual events to engender the same excitement and energize donors around completing the campaign can be effective. For example, a virtual walkthrough of a new facility can convey the same information as one conducted in person.

As you budget for the public phase, reallocate funding earmarked for special events toward more outbound communications, technology and virtual marketing.

Despite the current challenges, fundraising continues, and nonprofits are waging successful campaigns. It’s all about adapting to new realities and adjusting expectations.

We are currently helping many organizations across the country launch major fundraising campaigns. If you want to discuss how best to position and execute your campaign—from initial planning to public launch to completion—we’d be happy to chat. Just click the “Contact Us” box above and we’ll begin a conversation.