Sarah Durham

Sarah Durham

Sarah Durham is president of Big Duck, a New York City-based branding, marketing and fundraising firm for nonprofits. She serves on the boards of the National Brain Tumor Society and the New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

How to Create a Winning Brand Strategy (and Why It's Critical for Nonprofits)

Years ago, branding was considered the purview of corporations alone. But in recent years, branding is increasingly considered a useful strategy for nonprofits, too, particularly those that are struggling to distinguish themselves from peers when competition for donors, members or clients heats up. But what does the word “brand” mean for nonprofits today?...

A Blast From the Past: Builds Support Through Community (February 2010)

In 2007, an enterprising guy named Manny Hernandez launched on the Ning platform to provide a way for diabetics to connect with peers. (Hernandez was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002.) In 2008, he founded and currently leads the Diabetes Hands Foundation — the nonprofit behind the community. Today, (aka has more than 10,000 members connecting on a multitude of topics.

What Fundraisers Can Learn From Zappos

What does good customer service mean for a nonprofit? To your donor relations? Client or member relations? Community relations? Most organizations have so many different types of relationships it's hard to know where to start, much less fund.

Multipronged Moxie

The message I heard after year-end 2010 was clear: One-off appeals (whether letters or e-mails) don't work well anymore. These days, the organizations with the most direct-response moxie are the ones that craft engaging 
campaigns with many touchpoints. Multipronged campaigns not only raise money — they build deeper relationships that pay off 
over time.

Focus on Your People, People!

Technology is great, but it takes human beings to make the most of it. Ask these questions to make your fundraising efforts successful this year and beyond.

This Month — A Brandraising Twofer

Start your donor relationships off right with prompt, polite thank-you notes, and start lighting the fire for your end-of-year appeals today.

Out of the Trenches

If you love thinking about how social media and technology can be used to raise money, increase visibility and create social change (is there an app for that?), there's no better place to be than the annual NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference, which took place this year in April in Atlanta. Once I got done ogling all of the new iPads and finished searching for places to plug in my laptop, I actually had real conversations with a few breathing humans. Look, ma! No plugs!

BlogLog: Bring Your Shovel and Your Jet-Pack

If you love thinking about how social media and technology can be used to raise money, increase visibility and create social change (and if there’s an app for that), then there’s no better place to be than the annual  NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). After I got done oogling all the ipads people brought (I counted at least 5 just days after the product was released), tweeting, and searching for places to plug in my laptop, I actually had real conversations with a few breathing humans (no plugs required).

Blogging for Dollars

Earlier this year, I participated on a panel about blogging for nonprofits at the Ad Council. The room was full of nonprofit people trying to understand what blogging is, if their organizations should be doing it and how it's done. To prepare for the talk, the Big Duck staff and I reviewed dozens of sites hoping to find out how organizations use blogging to enhance their programs, advocacy and fundraising communications. We reached out to nonprofits via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and, oh yeah, conversation. We looked at who is blogging in organizations of all sizes, how the blogs relate to their primary Web sites, who is commenting, and who is doing something fresh or unexpected.

Back in 2008, many Americans got their first taste of social networking for good through the Web site mybarack (or "MyBO" as it came to be known). The site engaged Barack Obama supporters online with a goal of inspiring action offline — attending events, canvassing, phone banking and, of course, donating.

Dipping Your Toe Into the Blogopool

Most of the nonprofit techies I know have a laptop appendage — an extra (digital) limb, of sorts — attached to their bodies. Not so with fundraisers. As a breed, fundraisers are "people people" — they spend their time cultivating relationships by phone and face to face. Sure, you know how to use a computer, but when it comes down to the big ask, you've got to get out from behind your desk, right?

Relationships 2.0

For fundraisers, the first quarter of the year is as much a time to look back as ahead. It’s a time to find out how year-end appeals tallied up, to assess how winter events performed and perhaps to report back to the board on what it all means.

The Great Schlep

For fundraisers, 2008 was a year of change and challenge. Plummeting endowments, budget cuts and other lows added pressure to bring in new money while spending even less than before.

Lesson from Obama '08

The fundraising and awareness juggernaut that propelled Barack Obama to the presidency is chock full of fundraising tips for nonprofits, especially in the area of e- and mobile efforts. Here are two of the biggies.

Mark Morris Dance Group

If you’re a fan of dance, you’ve probably heard of Mark Morris. His witty, inspired choreography is celebrated for its thoughtful relationship with musical accompaniment and exceptional craftsmanship. Morris’ work is accessible to the dance novice but sophisticated enough for the aficionado. He frequently choreographs for arts institutions around the world, but his own dance group and center are located in my backyard — fabulous Brooklyn, New York. Today we’ll be examining his organization’s Web site: The Mark Morris Dance Group includes the company and a school. The site’s homepage showcases both, plus its location (the Dance Center building),