Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Tara Collins

Tara Collins

Welcome to our latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators! This series lets you describe your workday 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.

Tara Collins is a  Jill-of-all-Trades, Master-of-Some, nonprofit communicator, relationship-builder, dot connector, lover of all things furry & purry, Catskills hiker, tenuous-to-use-the-term-golfer, scuba diver, cat herder.

And this is her typical day:

Before 8:00 a.m. –  Up at 5am. Feed four cats; let two younger cats out. Clean the litter box and the rogue turd left by my geriatric Wonder Cat (this is my humble offer of service to the world today). Let Wonder Cat out; let back in after 18 seconds.

Move on to Selfcare: take vitamins with ACV (ugh – nasty-tasting stuff, but if that’s as bad as my day gets, I’ll take it.) Bring coffee to the hubby, connect with him, and set my intention for the day.

Write down 3 priorities for the work day, the ones that come top of mind. Right now those are: complete 2017 Annual Report, tend to Building for Everyone (B4E) messaging campaign creation, conduct SalesForce database integration research, and address our annual fundraiser, Celebrate Community, punch list.

Briefly outline what needs to happen today, including 3 things I need to do for me personally or family in general.

Meditate for 15 minutes (my new practice). Send my Gratitude List of 5 things to a large group of friends and my dad. Can I nap yet?

8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – Call a friend on the way to work, wait for signal to drop out at West Hurley. It does. Bag the callback. NOTE TO SELF: Make effort to say “Love You” at beginning of call. Always.

Set phone alarms for key cues for when to move on to something different (meeting, lunch, call). Despite my better judgement, I scan my work email first- guaranteed to suck the life of any well-intentioned work day — but I can’t help myself — anything on fire? Remove low-hanging fruit to do items (take less than 2 minutes to execute) gives me a sense of accomplishment.

This morning I reviewed the courtesy content review for a funder’s annual report. Address that handful of little things that keeps naggers out of my doorway and the straggling check request to make the Ladies in Finance happy (they do, after all, make the money happen.)

First alarm chime: Meet briefly with my VISTA editorial assistant and Communications Manager. Today we three talk about our Social audience: when they are viewing (FB: everyday between 7-9p! Twitter: need followers), gender breakout, the team’s recommendation for boosting in prep for a future meeting with a social media consultant. This exercise has allowed them to accept ownership of the new message social posting moving forward and allows them to be heard. We briefly discuss which current campaigns can we ratchet back on in preparation of this new campaign launch on June 14.

Discuss the copromoter 1-pager tool kit for social media support of our upcoming messaging campaign to share with our B4E ambassadors. Ask the team if they need anything from me and check-in with what they are working on (readjust if needed).

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Right now, everybody wants to have a meeting… the videographer shooting our B4E HomePage Hero video is scrambling due to weather and wants more B-roll. Is she kidding: She wants me to lock people out of (or in) the building while she videotapes our narrator and CEO on Thursday. I take a deep breath, pause, and tell her I’ll post signs in the elevator and entry doors alerting people to the videotaping to be done on Thursday. She ignores my bigger concern of traffic noise outside the building. Instead, she insists I sit outside on the porch (in the rain) and keep people from entering the building between 10a-1:30p. I take a breath, pause and ask myself: what are we paying her? I send her B-roll, post the signs, rethink my porch commitment, and reassign that porch post to the VISTA (oh @#%*, she’s OUT on Thursday and Comms Manager is in at noon). I’ll figure it out Thursday morning; back to what’s important…

Second chime: Watch Dyson Foundation required webinar on Planned Giving with one eye while updating a handful of WordPress website links and pages. While I don’t believe in multi-tasking, I can do this easily and provides instant gratification as I knock a couple things off the To Do List.

12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Third chime: Sit in on my NTEN Organizer Zoom call (love the video conference), get reinspired, eat lunch at my desk while on call. Reassign the Survey webinar recording to the Comms Manager; reassign TryLately office hours webinar to VISTA.

Chimes 4,5,6,7-snoozed: Take a 10-minute walk (it’s the first sunny day in months…), NOTE TO SELF: resurrect the Walk-n-Talk for future meetings.

Submit two videos to the NeighborWorks America Spotlight Awards; cross-fingers for recognition for two really awesome promotional videos.

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Accept a walk-in donation from a board member, sweetness basket to our June fundraiser, which reminds me to pick up one-pound of Krause’s chocolates for silent auction. Seriously, is that chocolate going to be around in 6 weeks? I might as well make my donation check out now.

Call $5k funder personally to invite him and his wife to the June fundraiser; take 10- minutes locating a phone number as both emails bounced. NOTE TO SELF: You REALLY need to get the donor database in play – do the research!!! Relocate my To Do List.

Scratch off two things but Big 3+1 still loom – Annual report, research still untouched but small effort on fundraiser and new campaign – and it’s only 3p. Maybe, just maybe…

After 4:00 p.m. – Email HR gal for special phone number for Behavioural Support; there must be a psychiatrist on my plan. Check phone to see if alarm is truly set to pack up at 4p. Notice 12 text messages and two voicemails on cell phone, glance over to see work phone message light ablaze. Discover calls are old news: I addressed the printer question earlier, already sent in the full page ad, and avoided the telemarketer – whew.

Clear my desk, and there is my extra copy of CALM not BUSY that I intend to mail to a friend. I flip to page 77 and realize I need to put more trust in my team to get work done and adopt the thinking “Close enough is perfect.”

Chime 8: repack backpack to leave for the day. Unpack my personal laptop and leave at the office. I had made personal call #1 earlier to confirm computer guy fixing the virus tomorrow.

Traveling light, I’m leaving the office at 4:30p. My Spring commitments (personal to dos 2 & 3) are to leave on time to meet hubby for after-work walk and daily recap, enjoy time outdoors, and improve my golf game. After all, it’s not all about work, it’s about life. So my best plan for the day is always to “Head out and live it.”

Thanks for sharing your day, Tara!

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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