Doing Good While Doing Well: Big Duck

What do bagels and ducks have in common? Well, not a whole lot on the surface, but check out our guest post from Sarah Durham, CEO of Big Duck, and author of Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications, below. Big Duck is a 20 Jay tenant that has specialized in helping nonprofits spread the word for almost two decades. Sarah shares her experiences and lets you know about opportunities to feed on bagels and nonprofit advice through their new programming:

We’re Big Duck. Since 1994, we’ve been helping nonprofits communicate more effectively to raise money, increase visibility, and make a big difference. We’re a team of strategists, designers, writers, and project managers, combining nonprofit expertise, strategic thinking, and creative solutions to address organizations’ biggest communications challenges.

Up until 2006, we were based in Midtown Manhattan. When our lease was up that year, we considered relocating. A friend suggested DUMBO, and it felt like the right fit for Big Duck. Brooklyn simply made sense; most of our staff were already living here.

But there was also a different kind of appeal to our potential new neighborhood: Brooklyn is where people go to find something different (in a good way), and we were quickly drawn to DUMBO’s creative energy. The office spaces themselves—which felt creative and flexible but never flashy or showy—complemented our work culture. So, after thoughtful consideration, we made 45 Main Street our new home.

It was immediately clear that we had made the right decision in coming here. But we wondered if our clients, many of whom are based in Manhattan, would ever be convinced to make the trek to Brooklyn. We were prepared to coerce them, cajole them, and bribe them, but never made it that far.

As it turns out, they didn’t (and still don’t) need convincing. Many of them also live in Brooklyn, and stopping by the Big Duck office on the way to or from work is great for their schedules. Clients who don’t live nearby have found DUMBO to be a welcome destination, and those views of the city aren’t so bad, either.

We’ve since outgrown our original DUMBO home. This fall, Big Duck moved to 20 Jay, and what we learned at 45 Main holds true: DUMBO—with its easy commute and neighborhood feel—has a profound and positive effect on our quality of work. Also, people love coming here. And among the many perks of a bigger space is that we’re more able to accommodate visitors.

Since moving to Jay Street, we’ve hosted a number of staff-led workshops that cover a range of topics related to nonprofit communications, from social media strategy and brand development to multichannel campaigns. We’ve even started a workshop series, Bagels at Big Duck, which (as the name suggests) provides attendees with a healthy dose of both bagels and nonprofit wisdom.

We’re planning an upcoming brandraising workshop for Brooklyn-based nonprofits. Based on my book, Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications, the workshop will help some of Brooklyn’s finest ensure that their brand speaks in a consistent voice even as they evolve how they communicate. Stay tuned for more details—we’d love to see our neighbors there.

As we continue to grow, DUMBO continues to feel like the perfect home for Big Duck. It’s kind of like when the setting of a beloved TV show becomes one of its characters. DUMBO is an integral part of our team.