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The Smart Communications Podcast

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The Smart Communications Podcast helps busy nonprofit leaders build their communications skills and develop their organization’s voice. Every episode shares insights and practical tips to help you leverage strategic communications to advance your nonprofit’s mission.

The Smart Communications Podcast helps busy nonprofit leaders build their communications skills and develop their organization’s voice. Every episode shares insights and practical tips to help you leverage strategic communications to advance your nonprofit’s mission.
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The Smart Communications Podcast helps busy nonprofit leaders build their communications skills and develop their organization’s voice. Every episode shares insights and practical tips to help you leverage strategic communications to advance your nonprofit’s mission.




Episode 46: How do you involve your community when rebranding?

“You’re never going to get 100% buy-in...” is one of many lessons Elisabeth King, Director of Communications for Lycée Français de New York (, learned during her organization’s rebrand. Over two-plus years, she oversaw a process that thoughtfully involved over 2,000 people—students, parents, teachers, and staff. Listen in to hear how she undertook this complex change management process and navigated buy-in. You’ll get tips for involving your community in a...


Episode 45: How can your staff co-create your brand?

Ambar Mentor-Truppa (, VP of Communications at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, chats with Big Duck’s Gil Mejia ( and Sarita Joseph ( about the rebranding process. Formerly a communications consultant to nonprofits, Ambar shares her collaborative approach, ensuring all key stakeholders have a say in the decisions that affect them.


Episode 44: How should you work with freelancers?

Sandy Zimmerman, Big Duck’s Art Director, ( shares her experiences freelancing for nonprofits and managing new freelancers at Big Duck. She offers tips for organizations looking for freelance designers and writers, including where to find them, how to vet them, and logistics around hiring.


Episode 43: How do you let your community speak for you?

Michael Hoffman, CEO and founder of Gather Voices, ( shares his perspective on how nonprofits can harness community-made video to create more engaging, honest, and diverse content. His new tool allows nonprofit communications teams, large or small, to collect, manage, edit, and publish videos submitted by the communities they serve.


Episode 42: How do you use the media for advocacy?

Vince Warren is the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights ( and a frequent guest on MSNBC, Democracy Now, CNN, and other news channels. He joins us to talk about communications as a tool to advocate more effectively. He shares an example of how CCR leveraged the media to shift public views about stop-and-frisk in New York City, tales from appearing on FOX News, and recommendations for media relations rookies.


Episode 41: How can interviews help you get better insights?

Laura Fisher, Big Duck’s Senior Strategist, ( chats with Sarah Durham about how interviews can help you understand audience behavior and motivation.


Episode 40: How can you be a better writer?

Dan Gunderman was Big Duck’s Creative Director and Senior Copywriter for over 12 years. Before moving to Scotland, he sat down with us for a conversation about writing for nonprofits. He shares two simple rules for nonprofit writing, key differences between writing and editing (and how to do both well), and simple tips busy people can put into action right away.


Episode 39: How can you get your team to stop fighting like cats and dogs?

Farra Trompeter, Big Duck’s Vice President (, and Chris Tuttle, digital engagement strategist (, bring their respective love for cats and dogs to the analogy of fighting communications and development teams. Hear how they create cross-departmental alignment and collaboration.


Episode 38: Can chatbots improve donor experiences?

Alice Hendricks is the CEO of Jackson River (, a firm that helps nonprofits harness the power of technologies to achieve their goals. In this mind-blowing conversation, she shares how the consumer marketing space is using technology (chatbots, artificial intelligence, and more) and outlines how nonprofits can apply those tools to create more personalized and relevant experiences for supporters.


Episode 37: Are your internal communications values-driven?

Elizabeth Toledo, President of Camino Group ( and former Vice President of Communications at Planned Parenthood, is a crisis communications expert. She discusses the biggest internal communications challenges she’s seen and how strong values alignment can help nonprofits communicate more effectively internally and externally, especially about social issues and controversial topics. Plus, she shares recommendations for nonprofits looking to advance diversity, equity,...


Episode 36: Do you need a capital campaign consultant?

We sat down with Andrea Kihlstedt ( and Amy Eisenstein (, capital campaign experts with over 50 years of collective experience in the fundraising space, to talk about their new project: the Capital Campaign Toolkit. ( They discuss how the model of capital campaign development is changing—from nonprofits relying on consultants to lead the process to embracing online...


Episode 35: Does your nonprofit need a new logo?

Claire Taylor Hansen, Big Duck’s Creative Director, ( helps nonprofits answer the age-old question: Do we need a new logo? She discusses signs that a logo might need to change, the power of using visual elements—typography, colors, patterns, and more—consistently and well, and shares a simple exercise in-house teams can do to assess whether their nonprofit’s materials align with communications goals. If you want more resources to help you...


Episode 34: How can you make a lean team more effective?

Christine Hughes, Vice President of Institutional Advancement for Burke Neurological Institute (, is a world-class fundraiser and scientist with extensive experience in the biomedical field. Christine is in the process of building the Burke development and communications departments—and their pipeline of donors—from the ground up using precision communications. By applying this strategy, she’s built a lean and efficient in-house team...


Episode 33: Should your organization produce a PSA?

Stephanie Paul, Vice President of Marketing and Development at the American Parkinson Disease Association (, sits down with Sarah Durham to discuss her experiences creating PSAs and shares lessons learned along the way. Tune in to learn how APDA uses their PSAs as tools to raise awareness, reach new audiences, gather stories, and change perceptions about Parkinson’s disease.


Episode 32: What data really matters?

George Weiner, Founder and Chief Whaler of Whole Whale (, a social impact tech company, sits down with us to discuss all things data—why it matters for nonprofits, what data to pay attention to, how to visualize and share it, and how to get started with Google Analytics. This is a must-listen if you’re a nonprofit communicator responsible for collecting and measuring data related to your mission, or a nonprofit leader looking to foster a more...


Episode 31: Should you rename your nonprofit?

Farra Trompeter, Big Duck’s Vice President, and Dan Gunderman, Big Duck’s Creative Director, have successfully facilitated many nonprofit name changes throughout the years. In this episode, they discuss reasons why more nonprofits are changing their names, what it takes, and lessons they’ve learned that may help organizations thinking about evolving—or radically changing—their name.


Episode 30: How do you structure a growing communications team?

Suzanne Shaw is Director of Communications at the Union of Concerned Scientists ( and has over three decades of expertise in nonprofit and private sector marketing and communications. She restructured her communications department with the intention to build in-house capacity, increase efficiency, bridge “channel-silos,” and measure marketing efforts more effectively. Tune in to hear how she did it and get tips for...


Episode 29: Can you legally use that photo or song?

Marcus dePaula, co-founder of Mixtus Media ( and producer of this podcast, is an expert in online content creation. In this episode he breaks down creative commons licensing, explains the ethical (and credibility) issues in grabbing images from Google for fundraising appeals or marketing communications, and shares resources for great, free photography and music every organization can use.


Episode 28: How can you facilitate better internal communications?

Nonprofit leaders must make their vision clear and get everyone—staff, board, and other stakeholders—aligned and motivated to work toward it together. For Wayne Ho, President and CEO of CPC ( (Chinese American Planning Council), this means communicating effectively with over 4,000 employees. In this episode of the Smart Communications Podcast, Wayne shares three essential rules that guide all of his internal communications. Want to learn more about how Wayne...


Episode 27: How can an executive director realize their vision?

Vince Warren reflects on his twelve years (and counting!) as Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Over the course of his tenure, Vince has built the organization around its potential—and his vision of what it could become. Tune in to learn about his, and the Center for Constitutional Rights’, journey. Want more on the Center for Constitutional Rights? Read all about our branding work together in the case study...