Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Leanne Poellinger
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.
We need to hear from you! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
Leanne Poellinger earned a B.S. in Business Administration in 1986 and worked for eight years at a non-profit employment training organization. After visiting a children’s museum with her young son in 1992, Leanne Poellinger added “work at a children’s museum” to her bucket list. Just a few years later, there was an article in the local newspaper about another mother of young children who was gathering support to open a children’s museum in La Crosse, WI. Leanne attended the first informational meeting, signed on to volunteer and accepted the position of Marketing & Development Director the following year. She helped with the $2.6 million capital campaign to remodel a donated building and install exhibits, and the Children’s Museum of La Crosse opened in 1999. Leanne still holds the position of Marketing & Development Director and is now working on another $2 million capital campaign for facility and exhibit improvements and additions after welcoming the Museum’s one millionth visitor in late 2016. She lives with her husband of 28 years and three sons across the Mississippi River in a small southeastern Minnesota city, where she was born and raised. Leanne’s other interests include tile mosaic art, summer fun on the river and coloring. She wishes she would have thought to create and promote adult coloring books!
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – I absolutely, positively was not going to hit “snooze” this morning. I was going to get up on time and get a little exercise in before going to work…but, when my alarm went off at 6:30, I made sure my 16-year-old son was awake and getting in the shower and I climbed back into bed for a few extra minutes of cozy rest. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – As I do two or three times a week, I picked up a skim mocha on my way in to work. Although I live in a different state than I work, my commute is only about 10 minutes, across the Mississippi River bridge.
I am the Marketing/Development Director at a children’s museum, a position I have held for 19 years, since before the museum opened. As one of only three full-time employees, my job has a lot of variety, including helping to answer phones, scheduling field trips, answering questions about memberships and birthday parties, assisting desk staff as needed, and other things not specific to development or marketing.
When I arrive at the museum around 8:00, I check my folder at our admissions desk and often find notes from desk staff about data updates/corrections for members since I maintain our database.
Once at my desk, I check email and respond to anything time-sensitive.
I also check Facebook to do a quick scan for any activity on the museum’s page that requires action. I follow lots of industry and family related Facebook pages, so if I see something that may be of interest to our followers, I may share it or save it for a future post. I use Buffer to schedule a daily Facebook, Twitter and Google+ post ahead of time, so I don’t always do another daily post.
I am a list-maker, so I take a look at my to-do list (hand-written on a piece of actual paper) and mentally prioritize my main tasks for the day.
When the mail arrives, I go through it first, distributing to appropriate staff and processing membership renewals and donations in our database.
I generate a report for our bookkeeper and print gift acknowledgment letters and envelopes, which I pass on to our Executive Director for signature and deposit.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Today, I had a 10:00 to 11:15 meeting with one of the co-chairs for a $2 million capital campaign we have recently initiated, our first major campaign since the one we did to open the Museum 19-20 years ago. We are working with a consultant just on the planning and volunteer management for the campaign. With input from her, our E.D. and committee volunteers, I created the case statement and other related materials. We are now in the quiet solicitation stage and planning an ask event for late March.
Balancing the added workload of this campaign with all the other day-to-day work tasks is challenging, so I’m trying to delegate some of my tasks to a part-time employee who is interested in taking on more administrative responsibilities. I’m one of those people who would rather do things myself than delegate, but I know I have to free up time for the campaign.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Lunch, leftovers brought from home, something picked up from the food co-op down the street or a Clif bar and Diet Coke, is usually eaten at my desk while I check Facebook and email again, reading blog and list serve posts that I subscribe to.
After lunch, I usually get back to my to-do list, which currently includes, but is not limited to: write and mail hand-written thank you notes to donors from last couple weeks, email news release about upcoming Super Hero Breakfast event, email draft ask event invitation to campaign communications committee for input and work on guest list, create and post/send Facebook and email request for photos and stories about family’s museum stories for potential sharing with campaign prospects, work on grant applications for local foundations, submit end of year reports for last year’s grants…the list goes on.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Our two campaign committees meet at 4:00 and 5:15 every other week, so late afternoons involve preparing for these meetings and working on and adding to the to-do list.
After 4:00 p.m. – I usually leave my office around 5:30 and head home to make dinner and clean the kitchen, do some laundry, interact with my family and other home “stuff”. I usually check my email and Facebook at least once and deal with anything that shouldn’t wait until the next day.
Then I unwind by doing some coloring and/or reading a few chapters of an e-book (fiction) and falling asleep around 11:00 with firm plans to get up on time and exercise in the morning.
Thanks for sharing your day, Leanne!
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