Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Lisa Northrop

nonprofit communications director

Lisa Northrop

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.

Volunteering since she was a Brownie in Girl Scouts, Lisa always knew she would work in the non-profit sector. Perfect timing and the pro humanitate culture of Wake Forest University allowed her to transition from a student intern at the Ronald McDonald House to a position at the Family House. Six years later, she helps volunteers create the homelike environment that makes guests feel at ease at the Family House. She is still a volunteer at heart, serving with the Piedmont Environmental Alliance and the Ardmore Gateway Garden.

She serve as Director of Community Relations for the SECU Family House, which provides affordable lodging and support services in a caring environment for referred adult patients and/or their caregivers who travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., for medical treatment.

And this is her typical day:

Before 8:00 a.m. – My alarm sounds at 6:40am. I don’t need to get to work until 9am, but I like to have some time to wake up slowly. I’ll check my personal email, Facebook, Instagram, and my Daily Skimm email before getting out of the warm covers.

After breakfast (cereal, nothing fancy), my dog Luna and I will head out for a 45 minute walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes I’ll listen to a podcast (Planet Money, 99% Invisible, How I Built This, and The Way I Heard it with Mike Rowe are some of my favorites), or I’ll just enjoy the quiet.

8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – Tuesdays I pick up donated bagels from a local shop on my way in to the office. While my computer is powering on, I’ll make myself a glass of lemongrass tea and start going through emails. (I don’t check work emails at home unless I’m working from home or I’m waiting for a particular response – a rule I made for myself from day one!)

I’ll add some volunteer projects to the whiteboard and respond to quick emails.

I’ll check in on the morning volunteers – chat with them in the kitchen before tucking away in my office.

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Our weekly staff meeting is held at 10am. I update everyone on the upcoming events that we need to market – a Shred Event, a holiday fundraiser, and volunteer appreciation events. I make sure all staff has links to our Facebook events and volunteer appreciation RSVPs so they can share it with their friends and network. Fall is around the corner, so we’re starting to plan, draft, and produce our fall communications pieces.

Today, the mailer took the fall printed newsletter to address and mail. After I create the mailing list for a fall donor appreciation invitation, I send the invitation and quantity I need to the printer. I’m a terrible snacker, so most of my lunch has been nibbled on throughout the morning.

12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – A couple of co-workers and I generally bring our lunches (leftovers or a turkey sandwich for me). We almost always enjoy it on the patio outside – as long as it’s not 105 degrees or snowing out there!

Afterwards, I make a bank deposit and swing by the printer to approve their proof of the donor appreciation invitation. Who else has anxiety sending their pieces to the printer? What if there was that one typo that you missed?!

I’ll return the call of a volunteer service group to get them on the calendar, and check on the afternoon volunteer shift. They may be addressing invitations for me, sending thank you notes to donors, or assembling a marketing packet.

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. is when most of my volunteers are gone, so I’m generally the most productive. This is a quieter time when I can really focus to work on our fall fundraising appeal letters, update the fall communications timeline, work with our communications staff to brainstorm next month’s blog title, or repurpose some of the content that we have for the website, e-newsletter, or Facebook.

The bird feeder outside my window is the perfect reminder for me to look up from my computer screen regularly.

After 4:00 p.m. – I’ll head out of the office around 5pm or a little later and head to the gym or to my dog for her evening walk. I’m lucky enough to not take my work home – though my subconscious often brings work to do lists into my dreams!

The last thing I do before turning off the light at night is check my calendar to make sure I don’t have any morning meetings or volunteer groups I need to be in the office for early.

Thanks for sharing your day, Lisa!

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



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Author: Kristina Leroux, Community Engagement Manager

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

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