Sarah Durham

Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Administration

45 Main street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

In 1994, Sarah Durham escaped from the advertising, design and marketing world(s) she’d grown up in and started Big Duck. While she’d learned a lot, it was time to put communications best-practices to work for a better reason: to help nonprofits increase their visibility, raise money, and move the needle on their missions. Today, Big Duck is the leading communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits. Their clients include local, regional, national and international organizations such as The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Jewish World Service, and the New York City Charter School Center.

Sarah is a total nonprofit communications nerd. She was named a top fundraiser under 40 by Fundraising Success Magazine in 2006, and one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company magazine in 2010. She’s a regular speaker at Association of Fundraising Professionals and Nonprofit Technology Network conferences.

The author of “Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications” (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2009), Sarah teaches aspiring nonprofit communications nerds at NYU’s Wagner School and at the Athena Center for Women’s Leadership at Barnard College. She regularly gives workshops and webinars to anyone who’ll listen. Sarah Tweets @BigDuckSarah; please join her in conversation there.

An organization’s brand can help it raise money, create change, and recruit participants as it effectively communicates its mission. But a brand is more than just a logo or a memorized elevator pitch, it is the way both internal and external audiences perceive your organization—and shaping this perception is as essential to the success of nonprofit and public organizations as it is to for-profit organizations. And since many nonprofits have limited staff and financial resources available for communications activities, it is even more important that these resources be deployed as strategically as
possible. This course will offer an overview of branding and communications concepts, helping students approach branding in a way that builds commitment to their organization’s mission, increases trust, creates ambassadors, and strengthens impact. Students will gain a basic familiarity with a variety of branding principles and develop strategic communication recommendations for an organization they are familiar with.

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Nonprofits must communicate effectively with clients, policymakers, donors, and other key audiences in order to create social change. Using the "brandraising" model (Jossey-Bass, 2009), this course will lay out a framework for effective nonprofit communications. The course will explore how newer channels and tools such as social media can support a nonprofit's mission, where and how branding fits in, how nonprofits leverage communications in order to fundraise, advocate and make programs work, and more.

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In the current economic climate, nonprofits need to focus on ways to stand out from the crowd, win charitable dollars, and survive the downturn. Effective, mission-focused communications can help organizations build strong identities, heightened reputations, and increased fundraising capability. Brandraising outlines a mission-driven approach to communications and marketing, specifically designed to boost fundraising efforts. This book provides tools and guidance for nonprofits seeking to transform their communications and marketing through smart positioning, branding, campaigns, and materials that leverage solid strategy and great creative, with a unique focus on the intersection of communications and fundraising.