21NTC Session

Building your nonprofit’s communications engine


The Nonprofit Communications Engine is a framework designed to help nonprofit leaders build, refine, and optimize their organization’s ability to communicate effectively. Based on Sarah Durham’s new book, “The Nonprofit Communications Engine: A leader’s guide to managing mission-driven marketing and communications.” You’ll learn a scalable theory that you can apply to your organization immediately.

Tools, channels, budgets, and people all change. So how should you manage your nonprofit’s communications to maximize engagement in this ever-changing landscape? Whether you’re an executive director trying to figure out what your in-house communications team should prioritize or a director of marketing or development trying to maximize your capacity with limited resources you need a simple, clear framework that lasts. This session will share a scale-able theory that you can put into practice immediately.

Session Type

30 minute session

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the results a successful communications team should consistently generate for your nonprofit
  • Understand the six elements you must have in order to achieve these results
  • Gain a simple approach that can be applied to assess where your organization’s communications are strongest or need more attention

Target Audience

Executive directors, fundraisers, communications staff looking to set goals and build stronger teams to use communications to advance their missions.




Sarah Durham


Big Duck

Sarah is an entrepreneur and creative consultant with a passion for helping nonprofits communicate more effectively so they can advance their missions. She founded Big Duck in 1994 to help nonprofits increase their visibility, raise money, and communicate more effectively. In 2019, she acquired Advomatic, which builds and supports websites for nonprofits. She spends her days guiding these businesses and talking with nonprofit leaders about their communications.

The author of Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2010) and The Nonprofit Communications Engine: A Leader’s Guide to Managing Mission-driven Marketing and Communications (Big Duck Studio, 2020). Sarah’s expertise has been borrowed by NPR, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Guidestar, and many others. She is a sought-after speaker on branding, fundraising, and other nonprofit communications topics. 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.



March 24, 2021


9:45am – 10:15am