Ep 104: Creating a Nonprofit Communications Engine (with Sarah Durham)

by Joan Garry

Your nonprofit can probably do a better job of communicating to build engagement and inspire action. Sarah Durham is THE expert on this.


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Is your nonprofit clear about how to effectively communicate and build engagement? Is your organizational voice clear and compelling across the board? And what exactly is a “nonprofit communications engine”?

The answers to these questions and more is the topic of today’s podcast.

In writing her new book, today’s guest, Sarah Durham, CEO and founder of Big Duck Communications, asked herself whether there was a scalable model that Executive Directors can use to manage communications that help to build an “army of the engaged” regardless of what kind of organization they are running.

Big Duck’s mission is to help organizations use communications in a strategic way with a clear voice and smart branding. And we’re lucky to have Sarah come onto the podcast to instruct us on how to do just that.

About Sarah Durham

Sarah launched Big Duck in 1994, Big Duck is a marketing company designed for non-profits. In 2019, she acquired Advomatic, a company that helps nonprofit and advocacy driven companies to improve their online technologies. Clients include the ACLU, Universities and Governmental organizations. In 2020, Sarah released her second book, The Nonprofit Communications Engine. Serves as Chair of National Brain Tumor Society’s Board of Directors.

Sarah Durham is a nonprofit communications nerd. Sarah Durham is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Sarah Also contributes expertise to The Chronicles of Philanthropy Website. In 2006, Durham was named a “top fundraiser under 40” by Fundraising Success Magazine. Sarah is driven by social justice and believes that it is important to fight for what is right and fighting against inequality.

Big Duck recently completed a complete rebrand for Shriver Center on Poverty Law, focusing on creating a more inclusive and interactive appearance.

In This Podcast

  • What are nonprofits most unclear about?
  • How does communications tie into branding work?
  • What thwarts nonprofits from investing enough in communications?
  • Do you need a big budget for communications?
  • The three outcomes that lead to effective communication
  • How to achieve sustainable momentum
  • How to identify and prioritize your audience
  • The value of setting priorities