We need more stories for this series! Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
Heather Svoboda is the communications and development manager at the Cat Adoption Team (CAT). Located just outside Portland, Ore., CAT is the largest nonprofit, feline-only, adoption-guarantee shelter in the Pacific Northwest. In her role, Heather oversees CAT’s marketing, external communications, and fundraising efforts, including direct mail, stewardship, print and electronic newsletters, social media, and public relations. She has previously worked as an editor and communications project manager for the Office of Advancement at DePaul University in Chicago.
Here is her typical Wednesday:
6:30 a.m. First alarm goes off
6:45 a.m. Second alarm goes off and I start the process of waking up, which usually involves checking my personal social media and email. Since I manage our social media sites, I always check the Cat Adoption Team Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in the mornings (usually from my bed!) to see if there’s anything that needs a quick response or posts I should “like” or comment on as CAT. This morning I also uploaded a super cute photo of a cat named Baba Ghanoush to our Instagram feed.
7 a.m. Start the morning routine, namely, shower and get ready. I also spend about 10-15 minutes making sure my own two cats, Lago and Tomato, are fed, get some “mommy and me” time, and have a clean litter box. This is also when I do dishes (empty and refill the dishwasher), make my breakfast shake, and pack a lunch.
8:00 – 8:15 a.m. Leave for work. I have about a 20-30 minute commute and I listen to oldies, hip hop, or alternative music during the drive. I get to the office around 8:30 a.m.
8:30 a.m. Coffee!! Once I get to work I make a coffee and spend a few minutes saying hi to my colleagues. I do an email scan first thing back at my desk and respond to any high importance items.
9 a.m. On Wednesdays, communications and development volunteer Gail arrives for a two-hour shift to help with office tasks like data entry, letter folding, and writing donor “thank you” cards. I’ll spend a few minutes getting her oriented on the day’s tasks, which for today include folding and stuffing follow-up letters to everyone who donated in response to our end-of-year appeal.
9:15 a.m. -10 a.m. Next, I’ll take a look at my “to do” list to help prioritize the day. Today I’m working on editing a direct mail piece, which includes contacting one of our spay/neuter clients for a brief interview.
Mid-morning, I’ll usually have a quick snack (today it’s a Kind bar and an apple). Then I spend some time responding to the non-urgent emails before heading into my next task. This particular Wednesday, I’m looking over RFPs for venues for our winter fundraising event, Whisker Wonderland (a benefit auction and dinner for 250-300 attendees). I’ll create a list of the best options to go over with my executive director at our Monday meeting.
12 p.m. Lunch n’ Stuff. I squeeze in a lunch while I check our social media sites again for anything that may have been posted or asked of us during the morning. If necessary, I’ll respond to any direct messages or posts. This is also a time that I’ll schedule posts to promote adoption or other upcoming events. If it’s a slow day, I might even eat in the break room or go out for lunch. Otherwise, I eat at my desk and do my personal email/web browsing now too.
1 p.m. Because it’s the end of the month, I’ll spend the next hour preparing a calendar of events for March to send out to our media contacts. This Wednesday, I also need to connect with one of our newspaper reps to reserve ad space for a February adoption event.
2 p.m. Weekly Manager’s Meeting. Today’s agenda includes updates about a new adoption center that just opened last Saturday (Purringtons Cat Lounge – Portland’s first cat cafe!), implementing some new forms, and preparing to start employee reviews, among other things. The meeting usually lasts an hour or an hour and a half, and includes a little social time chatting with the other managers and helping each other stay sane and have some laughs!
3/3:30 p.m. I’ll spend my last hour or half hour hand-writing thank you notes to donors, checking in on any last-minute email and social media responses, returning any missed calls, and writing my to-do list for the next day.
4 p.m. Time to wind down. Most days, you can find me staying late in the office, following up on to-do list items that got overlooked while I put out other fires during the day. It’s also a good time for me to walk through the shelter, getting a feel for the cats and kittens on site, and maybe taking some photos for use on social media, thank you cards, or our bi-annual newsletter.
4:30 p.m. Since it’s a Wednesday, I have to leave between 4:30 and 5 p.m. to rush off to my spin class. I work in a Portland suburb and spin class is downtown so the drive takes 45 minutes to an hour. More music to get myself pumped for class.
6 p.m. BurnCycle! It’s 45 minutes of full-body burn and it’s a great way to sweat away any stress from the day!
7:30 p.m. Family Time. After class, I’ll take a quick shower and drive home to spend time with my partner, Mik, and our two cats. That might mean dinner and Netflix time or playing a “nerdy” board game like Morels or Caverna.
9:30 p.m. I’ll head to bed where I unwind with more social media (both my own and CAT’s). Maybe read a little, do a nighttime meditation or short yoga and then fall happily to sleep sometime between 10:30 and 11 p.m. .
Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.