Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Maria Sadowski

Maria Sadowski

Maria Sadowski

Here’s the latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators, where we ask you to describe your day in your own words.

Maria Sadowski is fortunate to have spent her career helping environmental nonprofits tell their story. She’s worked for IUCN, the Chicago Zoological Society, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, The Nature Conservancy, and is currently with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. By far the best part of her job is meeting people who do amazing science and conservation and using what she’s learned to inspire others to care or to donate. If that means she gets to pick up salamanders, feed wombats, and spent the night outside a bat cave…well, someone has to do it.

Here is her typical day:

Before 8:00 am: Embarrassed to say that I grab my iPad before my eyes are fully open…check a bunch of news sites, a few papers in Wisconsin, and our Foundation’s Facebook page.

Lots of our members are birders and outdoors folks, and I’ve discovered that posts scheduled between 5-7 am get more views than those posted later in the day.

Then walk the dog, water the garden, and hop on my bike for the short commute along Lake Monona to downtown Madison. 

8:00 am – 10:00 am: We’re a staff of 8, and my job overlaps in a good way with our executive director, membership director, development director, field trip coordinator, and grants coordinator. We’re all very involved in what each other does.

I start by catching up on emails and then divvy up tasks with my intern (we’ve been fortunate to have a rotating series of truly fantastic people, many from the UW-Madison Work-Study program).

This week we wrap up the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, a statewide fundraiser. Talking a lot about how this event (in its second official year) is taking time to build momentum, and requires more staff input than we’d anticipated.

I’ve been pitching to media across the state since March…we’ve had some great stories and hope that we can get those reporters to tell what’s happening now that we have $55,000 to fund projects for birds. But honestly I’m glad the event is nearly done so I can focus on the rest of my job. 

10:00 am – 12:00 pm: I almost never take a lunch away from my desk. After many years in nonprofits, I’ve realized it’s a chronic problem with us that I don’t think other industries face. I’m literally shocked when I talk to people who regularly take a lunch hour.

However, I’ve recently started using a standup desk and I tell myself that’s almost as good for my health as getting away from the office. 

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Quick check on Facebook and then gather photos that people have taken on our field trips. Our intern catalogues and files them, and then starts scheduling Facebook posts.

This week I’m also starting on our next print newsletter and our annual report, which means my brain wanders around ideas before my fingers actually put words on paper. It also often involves cleaning my desk…for some reason, that’s part of my inspiration and concentration process. 

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Check in with our development director on a story we’ve pitched to a statewide magazine about one of our member families who support land protection with an endowment and in their wills. They are not people of great wealth, but simply people who care deeply about Wisconsin and are proud to leave a legacy to improve the state. We’re honored to share their story and hope it will inspire others. 

After 4:00 pm: One of my coworkers leaves around 4 pm, and every day, and I’m startled to see it’s already that late. This often kicks me into high gear on whatever project I’m in the midst of…today it will be pulling photos for the newsletter and annual report, and thinking about photo captions. Can’t beat pix of someone banding an eagle, tagging a butterfly, or gathering native seeds for future planting.

I’d hoped to move my organization to a postcard version of the annual report this year, but we aren’t quite ready. (Curious if others find their fundraising staff very reluctant to let go of lists of names?)

Sometime between 5:30-6 I head for home, by way of the yoga studio if possible. Will check my email a few times in the evening, to get ahead for tomorrow. If it’s an extra great day, tomorrow will involve going on a field trip to learn about Wisconsin, meet our members, and hike, paddle, or bike. Otherwise, it’s back to the office, which is still pretty darn good! 

Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.

Author: Kristina Leroux, Community Engagement Manager

I am the Community Engagement Manager at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com.

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