Interview: Sarah Durham, President and Founder, Big Duck » Charity Digital News

Interview: Sarah Durham, President and Founder, Big Duck


We recently caught up with Sarah Durham, President and Founder of Big Duck, a communications company which inspires charity audiences and helps them connect with your mission.

Could you describe the service you provide and how it works?

Sure! The realities of what it means to communicate effectively have changed dramatically in recent years. NGOs today have to grapple with cutting through all the noise, social media, and an increasingly flat/transparent world where everyone (including that intern) can be a “brand ambassador”.

Big Duck is a firm based in New York City that works exclusively with nonprofits to help them communicate effectively. Our focus is about helping nonprofits adapt, adjust, and thrive in today’s communications environment. We help our clients raise money, recruit, and increase their visibility through a process we call “brandraising”, and by mult-channel campaigns. (There’s more about what we do online here.)

Are there particular features charities can benefit from?

Yes. “The Rebrand Effect”, an ebook we co-authored in 2014, was the first time the impact of rebranding on a nonprofit was studied using more quantifiable data in a rigourous way. It reveals that charities that rebrand, particularly those that do it after a change in leadership or a significant strategic shift, can raise money, recruit, and achieve other measurable results. We’ve seen our clients dramatically expand their ability to fundraise, recruit, and raise awareness when they shift the way they are communicating, and get more strategic.

Can you tell us about a specific time you worked with a charity to help achieve their mission?

There are many case studies of our work on our website and in our blog.  You can also check out our client list. I also wrote a book called “Brandraising” which has a lot of examples of our work and of other organizations who are smart communicators.

Who are your major competitors and what makes you different?

Our peers are agencies who work with nonprofits on branding, communications-related consulting, and multi-channel campaigns. Most of them are very different from us in either their focus, or on what they do in-house. Our strength is our deep expertise in both branding and campaigns.

What was 2014 like for Big Duck and what’s in store for 2015?

2014 was great! It was our 20th anniversary and we celebrated by co-authoring the “Rebrand Effect” study I mentioned earlier as a ‘give back’ to the sector.  Our staff worked on a range of projects that really made us proud, with incredible clients, many of whom had been on our wish list for years.

So far, 2015 seems like it will be great, too. We’re a small team (15 people on staff) with limited bandwidth and a lot of clients we work with repeatedly. So far, we’ve been too busy to take on much new work, which is a great problem to have. Personally, I’ll be teaching a ‘master class’ at the International Fundraising Conference in Holland in October about how branding influences donors, which I’m really looking forward to.

It’s a privelege to work with organizations and issues that are making the world a better place; we’re delighted to be a part of it!

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