How to Respond to COVID-19: Pivoting with a Rapid Response Campaign

March 19, 2020

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Over the coming weeks, Purpose will be posting to our blog to share resources and live examples of how we are rapidly changing and adapting our campaigns & projects across the world in rapid response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Our hope is that others doing critical work will be able to use these learnings to help navigate for their own initiatives. Now more than ever we need to be fighting for those who are most vulnerable and at risk – this needs everyone.


Do What We Can

Just over a month ago, we set out with London-based charity Freedom From Torture to co-create a fundraising campaign that would raise money for the organisation’s emergency relief fund — a pool of funds that provides direct financial support to torture survivors during their greatest times of need. 

While awaiting a decision on their claim to refugee status, asylum seekers in the UK are forced to live off of just £5 a day, and are prohibited from working during this time. The task is an impossible one — getting by in a city like London all the while dealing with the after effects of trauma and assimilation. Our campaign, Spare A Fiver, had one simple call to action: Spare a fiver for torture survivors.

Days before launch, the coronavirus crisis worsened in the UK. This meant that torture survivors living on £5 a day would be particularly vulnerable during this time, unable to self isolate or stockpile as others were able to. Furthermore, our team knew that launching a campaign unrelated to the health crisis would fail to cut through the noise at that point in time, leaving us with a decision to make: postpone launch, or pivot directions entirely. 

Text saying "Do What we can"

Together with Freedom From Torture, we made the decision to pivot our campaign direction overnight. With rapid response, we repurposed our visual direction and messaging to focus on doing what we can to protect the most vulnerable in our communities right now. Through close collaboration, we were able to launch the Do What We Can campaign in just a few days. 

We sent the first email to supporters at 5pm, and within hours we raised £20,000 to support asylum seekers who have survived torture in this time of need.

The Do What We Can campaign illustrates the notion that if you can be nimble, responsive, and willing to take risks during these rocky times, it can pay off. 

In the UK, we have seen an outpouring of love and support from all corners of society. People are scared — yes. But ultimately, we know that it’s on us to take care of one another, support one another, and protect those who do not have the resources to protect themselves. 

We at Purpose encourage you to push your organisations to be bold, be daring, and take a stand for vulnerable communities during this time of great unknown. Pivoting through a strong rapid response campaign can be successful in focusing the energy of those who want to do something to help, and delivering impact to those affected. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Do What We Can campaign or donating, you can do so here.


Taylor Gese Strategist