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.
Jenna Czaplewski is the Director of Communications for the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. Jenna believes in the power of family and uses her talents to provide a consistent, positive message of the mission, values, and every day work of the Coalition. Jenna holds a bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Carroll University. She is also certified in nonprofit marketing and communications. Jenna has been a member of the Coalition team since April 2000.
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – When my alarm goes off a little after six, I fight the urge to hit snooze. I recently read an article that hitting snooze is one of the worst things you can do, so I’m trying not to! Rather, I get up and head to the shower. About an hour later, I’ve gotten ready for work, packed something for lunch and snacks, brewed some coffee, and am ready to head out.
I start my work day at 7:30am, and am usually the first person in the office. My commute isn’t long–only about 15 minutes. I turn on the lights and grab some water before heading to staff our front desk by about 7:45am. Our program staff members take turns staffing the front until our Program Support Specialist comes in for the day about 8:30. By 8:00, I’m back at my cubicle, which I fondly refer to as Czaplewski Cove.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – To start the morning, I’ll review emails and social feeds while sipping coffee. There are some mornings when I need to dive right into a particular project or task, but today I take some time to just scan through things.
Since I was out of the office working from home yesterday, there are a few things on my desk that need attention, so I focus on those next. I enter in data and information about donations and send task requests to our Director of Development to prepare and send thank you letters.
This morning, I also connect with one of our volunteers, who is making lots of auction item donation requests on behalf of the organization and our annual event this fall. Then I connect with members of our program team who have text due dates this week to make sure everything is on track.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – My 10 o’clock meeting was moved to one, so instead I’m reviewing my to do list. I’m addicted to list making, so if a page in my notebook gets too cluttered or marked up, I’ll take the time to rewrite my list. Truth be told, there are generally several lists that I’m tracking–my to do list, a list of topics I need to discuss with my CEO, a list of projects our graphic designer is working on, and, lately, a list of final tasks before six (yes, six!) new websites launch in less than one week’s time.
Today I’m going to pull together a list of donors to be included in our 2017 annual report. As I go to get started, I notice an email from Facebook. I’ve been trying to get the organization set up to be able to receive donations on Facebook and it seems to be a never-ending series of hoops to jump through. (Some are flaming hoops!) After sending a request to our finance team to help, I get back to the donor lists.
After about an hour and a half, I reach out to a consultant with whom we work for Salesforce. It’s still a new system to me and I’m struggling with finding the report information I need. I know Melissa can help me, and there are other tasks that I should be getting on to.
Lunch is at my desk as I work . . . and contemplate another cup of coffee.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – I’ve ignored my email inbox for a little while and I’m always amazed at how much accumulates in there. I spend a little time weeding out junk mail, updates, requests, etc. before pulling open a referral request for volunteer photographers. One of our programs helps youth in foster care connect with volunteer photographers in their county. We offer the opportunity to those youth who are going to be graduating and who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have senior pictures done. I start the process of locating volunteers and, while I wait for responses, I see what else is in my inbox.
I schedule some social media posts to thank a library in La Crosse that is hosting our Heart Gallery. The Heart Gallery is a travelling photographic exhibit of some of Wisconsin’s waiting children. We send out a kit of items including framed photographs, some pens, buttons, cards to learn more, etc. and even pay for return postage.
Before preparing for my one o’clock meeting, I take a little time to review the donor newsletter that our graphic designer has sent back. Then I head off to a meeting with my CEO.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – I arrive back at my desk a little before 3pm. First thing I do is check emails. A new version of our donor newsletter is waiting for me and I love it! I eagerly forward the PDF to my CEO and Director of Development for their feedback, hoping they like it as much as I do.
After grabbing some fresh water and a snack, I take a little time to reflect on my meeting with my CEO, jotting down pertinent thoughts, revising my list of things to do, etc. My CEO is a visionary leader and I find that I sometimes need time to think on and break down all of what she shared when we talk.
Then it’s time to turn attention back to the websites. Our project manager at the development company has sent me some follow-up emails and I work my way through modifications. I have more questions, so I send those and continue working my way through pre-launch edits.
After 4:00 p.m. – By the time it hits 4pm, I’m beginning to wind down my day. I decide to go back to my lists and make some updates. What did I get to, what is in progress, what to focus on tomorrow. I start to prioritize, as well, putting items in order for tomorrow morning.
Then I take a few minutes to make sure I don’t have any open documents or spreadsheets that need to be saved, check any last minute emails, and spend a few minutes reading. (I try to keep up with communications materials and am currently reading Kivi’s new book, CALM not BUSY.)
My work day officially ends at 4:30 and I gather my things together to head home. I am always connected to work emails and social media accounts, but I do my best not to pay too much attention to them in off hours.
My evenings are generally spent unwinding with some television shows, playing a few games on Facebook, and reading (currently: The Lake House by Kate Morton).
Thanks for sharing your day, Jenna!
Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.