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A 'Flip' Chat With...Sarah Durham, Principal and Founder, Big Duck

February 13, 2012

(This video was recorded as part of our 'Flip' chat series of conversations with thought leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. You can check out other videos in the series here, including our previous chat with Annie E. Casey Foundation president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.)

At a recent Foundation Center event, Big Duck founder Sarah Durham explained that her book Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications was written for small nonprofits that do not have the budget to hire an outside consulting group like her New York City-based communications firm.

Yes, the principles behind effective communications are pretty basic. But because most nonprofit leaders aren't well versed in marketing/communications strategy, they often have trouble following through on them, says Durham. For that reason, Brandraising seeks to show executive directors how to raise funds and increase the visibility of their organizations using approaches developed by some of the most successful fundraisers in the country.

Before the event got under way, I had a chance to chat with Durham about the different levels of "brandraising," the role young staff members can play in the strategic planning process, and how Big Duck measures its impact. On that last point, Durham said her colleagues set measurable goals at the start of each project and then, after implementation, sit down with the client to compare notes and see whether they were on target.

(If you're reading this in an e-mail, click here.)


(Running time: 4 minutes, 1 second)

What do you think? Do you agree with Durham that mobile is "the next big thing"? Has your organization started collecting cell phone numbers? Feel free to share you brandraising success stories in the comments section below.

-- Regina Mahone

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Posted by Bradford Smith  |   February 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Great interview Sarah and nice, concise answers. My question to you, or whoever else wants to answer: Mobile is really the current big thing. So what is the next big thing?

Posted by Jcbivins  |   February 15, 2012 at 01:16 PM

I think mobile is only at minimal proliferation at this point. Mobile numbers aren't standard on most nonprofit contact forms, mobile giving is still in its infancy, many websites and blogs are still not mobile-friendly; tablet ownership only peaked as of the last holiday season (in the US), and polling/surveys often still neglect mobile numbers (which discounts many potential millennial respondents).

Also, as organizations scale internationally, there's a huge market for mobile phones (even candybar handsets) for development, international aid, and on-the-ground storytelling for breaking news (see: http://bit.ly/z0TwTz).

While I agree that mobile is not a shocking topic for discussion, we've certainly only seen the tip of that iceberg.

Posted by Kivi Leroux Miller  |   February 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM

I'm with you -- mobile still has LONG LONG way to go in the nonprofit world.

Posted by Amy Sample Ward  |   February 15, 2012 at 03:58 PM

Mobile is certainly not just the "next" big thing but is an incredibly important factor and channel now! And, mobile doesn't just mean fancy iPhone apps. It includes sms/text campaigns and even mobile email. I LOVE this blog post from my colleague who gives you the why and the how to optimize email for mobile phones:

Posted by Beth Kanter  |   February 15, 2012 at 05:15 PM

Yep, mobile. But also:

Big Data and data visualzation
Social CRM

Posted by Victoria Vrana  |   February 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Beth - say more about social CRM. Any good links?

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