Welcome to the 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.
Erin Graichen saves lakes. She is the Membership Program Coordinator for NH LAKES in Concord, New Hampshire by day, and a wife, mother of two, modge-podger (is that a thing?), paddler, gamer girl, and fan-fiction writer by night. Her superpowers include database management, color-coded organization, and finding faster and easier ways to do almost anything (and not always via Pinterest hacks). Her accessory of choice is sunglasses.
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – My day usually starts at 5, when I shower before both kids wake up, get dressed, and help get everybody out the door by (hopefully) 6:30 or 6:45 (much more likely). I usually eat a quick breakfast at home or grab it on the way to work to be at my desk for 7:30. I work an early day – I’ve learned I am most productive in the mornings and start to wane in productivity around 2:30 pm.
When I get to work, I fill up my water bottle (I don’t drink coffee) and my new fancy Ulla device reminds me to drink it throughout the day. I check email and if it takes less than two minutes to do or respond to, I do it immediately. If it takes longer, it gets flagged and added to my to-do list or added to my calendar if it’s a longer assignment. I also use this time to check donation and membership notifications and merge duplicate accounts back together in our database so it stays nice and clean and updated!
I also do a quick check of our social media feeds to make sure there’s nothing that needs immediate attention. Then, I prioritize my to-do list for the day. I created my own customized Weekly Schedule printout in Canva to keep track of things I need to do daily, weekly, and monthly, as well as a to-do list and meeting items to talk about with my supervisor. It’s my weekly at a glance and keeps me productive!
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – After emails and reconciling the previous day’s credit card transactions, I make sure all new member/donor packets get printed and ready for the President’s signature and note of thanks. I send out all of the previous day’s letters that needed signing, and move on to my first project for the day by no later than 9:00.
Today it’s time for some membership renewals. This is a three stage process, as I need to send out renewal letters for next month, follow up letters for members who expire this month, and phone calls to members who have expired. Many of the follow up letters get handwritten envelopes (get a better open rate that way) so it takes a little longer but is definitely worth it.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – I’m always starving by 10, so I have a yogurt or some fruit as a quick snack, before starting my next project. I’ve generating some invitations for a donor party we are having in a few weeks and getting those in the mail.
We just rebranded, so there’s a lot of things that need updating, and usually on the fly. Lunch is usually at 11:30, and today I grab a coworker and we eat outside our office at a set of picnic tables and enjoy the sun. Sometimes I read my book instead, just to have some quiet time to myself – it’s generally my only time during the day I can sit and read.
Other coworkers usually join us, and we spend the time brainstorming solutions to each other’s problems and bringing each other up to speed. We’re nature nerds, and we always learn something new from each other.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – After lunch, I do another email check. I try not to check email (or at least answer email) throughout the entire day so I can focus on getting things done.
I prefer to use Slack to communicate with coworkers and free up my inbox for important communications with members and donors. I also find it much easier to keep track of conversations this way than in email, and easier and faster to get to files I use repeated.
Since it’s Tuesday, I meet at 1pm with my supervisor to check in on my workload and progress with the projects I’m working on.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Since my productivity seems to drop off in the afternoon, I use this time to boost my energy by making thank you phone calls to members and donors and all the little projects that need attention but not a lot of time – updating donation forms, sending out re-engagement email series to lapsed donors, and working on copy for a new donor love thank you project we’re launching this summer.
Before I go, I try to write down anything I didn’t finish on my to do list for the next day so I can get it done first. I usually leave the office by 3:30 at the latest to get my kids, and run home to cook dinner.
I generally listen to an audiobook on my way home – it helps the drive go a little bit faster.
After 4:00 p.m. – After a quick dinner (today it’s in the crockpot to save time), I run off to the gym for a kickboxing class, maybe do yoga, and then head home to help with bedtime and take a few minutes to snuggle my kids.
I generally don’t do any work or check emails after I leave the office, but occasionally I’ll hand address envelopes while watching some Netflix and catching up on my personal social media for the day and try to be in bed for 9:30 so I can wake up to do it all over again!
Thanks for sharing your day, Erin!
Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.