Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Kallie Rollenhagen
Welcome to 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’d love to feature YOU in this series! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
Kallie Rollenhagen is the Communications Coordinator at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. A Minnesota native, Kallie moved back to the land of lakes in 2015 to join the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). SMIF is a rural economic development foundation serving a 20 country region of southern Minnesota. There, she is the in-house storyteller, photographer, and graphic designer. Before starting at SMIF, she lived in a variety of metros, including Milwaukee, Baltimore, London, and Chicago. While working at a small loan fund in Chicago, she became interested in alternative community development financing approaches. SMIF’s ability to make loans as well as grants and its focus on rural economic development made it a great fit for Kallie’s interests in rural revitalization, community development finance, and placemaking. Outside of work, Kallie enjoys exploring underestimated places, photographing the prairie and its people, reading, biking and, whenever possible, listening to podcasts.
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – I’m a morning person and lucky enough to work at an organization that supports flexible work schedules. So, I usually wake up at 5:30 am, turn on the radio for news while I get ready and make breakfast, and leave at 6:25 am for my mile long/5 minutes commute, either walking, biking or driving depending on the weather.
I’m one of the first in the office, so I pick up the newspapers, start the first pot of coffee, and work my way through emails, logging media hits through Google alerts (we haven’t invested in a mail clipping service) and responding to anything that takes less than 5 minutes and scheduling Facebook posts for any relevant media hits.
On Friday afternoons, I take a first pass at my task list for the next week, transferring over anything that didn’t get done the week before. I update it after Monday emails with any new tasks that have come in.
Mondays are meeting heavy at our organization, as many people are frequently offsite other days of the week. The first meeting starts at 7:30 am, discussing the launch of a new program with a cross-program team. Today specifically, we touched on webinar content, as we’re just starting to delve into that technology.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – Right after the 7:30 am meeting, I send around action items to the team and try to take care of my pieces, reviewing draft FAQs page and webinar PowerPoint, right away.
Our team meeting – myself as the sole communication staff, the VP of Development (my boss), and the Development Associate – meet every other Monday at 9 am to go over our work plans for the next two weeks, checking in on the current status of solicitation mailings, print and e-newsletters, and any other larger items we want to discuss.
After that meeting, I do a quick check of email.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – I get to work on my task list! We run on a pretty frugal communications budget, so I do a lot of our in-house design and photo editing, plus all of our writing for both the organization and our different programs.
Today I’m working on updating a postcard mailer template for a child care provider training we’re hosting, and then scheduling the follow-up e-reminders from Constant Contact.
At 11:00 am, I go home for lunch: leftover lemon pepper broccoli spaghetti that I made on Sunday evening for lunches for the week. I scan the news and shoot off a few quick personal emails while there.
By 11:30 am, I’m back in the office, proofreading a solicitation letter the development team put together and formatting in some photos into the InDesign template for it.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – As a rural economic development foundation, we make both grants and loans for a 20 county region in southern Minnesota. This means a lot of stories to demonstrate who our clients are to help people understand the various ways we work toward “economic development.”
To capture content for the 30 or so new loan clients we work with every year, I established a Google marketing form that I send to all loan clients when they close. We just had a flurry of new closings, so I sent out the form to the new clients and checked the Google form for new responses, quickly putting together some blog posts to highlight their work and scheduling those social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – I frequently use Canva to create social media graphics).
Early afternoon, I take a 10-minute meditation break (I use the Headspace app, which has been really helpful as a beginner meditator!).
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – I check emails again, following up with one of the graphic designers we do work with the finalized marketing schedule and theme for a September conference for entrepreneurs.
I’m also working with a colleague to establish a series of cultural competency trainings for our organization as our rural region continues to diversify rapidly and we make sure our programming is as accessible and equitable as possible, so I stop by her desk to chat about that.
Every other Monday, we have one of our loan clients come in for a half hour yoga session at 3 pm. I help set up our conference room for that and participate. It’s been a great work.
Afterward, I do one last email scan, then head home around 4 pm.
After 4:00 p.m. – I do a quick workout at home (still recovering from knee surgery, so no running yet, just weights), then make dinner around 5 pm.
I try not to do any work from home, except for the one day a week I work offsite. I reserve evenings for reading, typically poetry, classics or a current nonfiction recommendation, or for friend/family time.
I moved back to rural Minnesota from nine years in various cities to be closer to family and in a quieter, slower setting, so if the weather’s nice, I’m on my front porch, either with a book or friend. I try to be in bed by 10 pm.
Thanks for sharing your day, Kallie!
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