Here’s 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 want to hear from you too! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro. ~Kristina
Michelle Scharlock is the Communications Manager for the Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Western Washington & Alaska. Previously, she worked in PR on the Microsoft Big Data account at Waggener Edstrom, where she developed a love of data and metrics. She also spent several formative years after graduating from McGill University working for performing arts nonprofits, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Northwest, the Seattle Shakespeare Company, the Seattle Opera, the American Handel Festival, the America’s Music Festivals radio series, and the Fisher Ensemble just to name a few. In her spare time, she can be found hunting for antiques, taking ukulele lessons, and writing plays. Insatiably curious, she is probably raiding your local library right this minute. You can reach her at: email@example.com.
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – I don’t get to work until 9, but I do start the day by looking through Facebook and Instagram around 8am as I’m getting up.
Inevitably, I will check the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska page and see if there are new comments or messages which need replies. We have great engagement on our Facebook page and I’m committed to keeping it that way!
Because I’m an obsessive monitor of social media, I haven’t installed Twitter on my phone – otherwise, I know it’d add to my already media-rich morning. I also religiously read the news on the BBC app on my phone and listen to NPR.
I really hate mornings, so I like to keep the beginning of the day relatively quiet. I do all my social media checking from bed as I slowly convince myself to get up.
I also usually have a cup of herbal tea I bought from a local tea store.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – I typically spend the first hour of the day (9:00-10:00) responding to email and reading any news that I didn’t get to during my morning check. I’ll often have a look through Google News and Twitter just to see what’s generally happening in the Seattle area, U.S. and globally.
Since social media is so fast, I find that a good morning look over of trending topics and news helps me keep up with things and take advantage of opportunities to reach out or start a conversation that I wouldn’t think of later. I also think about social posts for the day if they’re not scheduled already through Hootsuite. Our Facebook users are most active at night, so I try to line something to go out around 7 – 9pm later that night.
If we have hard news or a press release to get out, I start that right at 9 – typically by sending emails I’ve lined up the day before.
Once a week, we have a weekly meeting at 10am with our Development and Marketing staff to go over anything coming up and recent updates. We also spend this time discussing different ideas for fundraisers, events, marketing strategies, etc. It’s actually a great meeting since it is so infrequent – typically everyone has something to say and it feels like we get a lot done.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – I try to do at least one major thing a day and I save whatever is the most challenging (or will require the most thinking) for the morning after I’m done with email and finally awake.
I keep a running to-do list so I know what’s top priority. This could be writing blogs, putting together layouts for our newsletter, drafting our latest email, making an infographic, or taking care of other random projects that we need done.
I typically do some really concentrated work from about 10 to 1pm. If I don’t have any immediate projects to take care of, I often use the morning to talk to other staff members about upcoming projects and bounce ideas off of people.
I also like to raid the snack drawer downstairs for popcorn and Goldfish crackers and make sure to say hello to the volunteers who help out at our front desk.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – By 1pm, I’m thinking about having lunch – but I typically don’t get around to it until 2pm, since I’m usually wrapping up whatever I’ve been working on until then. Most of the time, I either bring a lunch and eat at my desk, or I go across the street to the Metropolitan Market grocery store. I am addicted to their prepared foods section. It also gives me an excuse to get outside and walk around a bit if it’s not too rainy in Seattle that day.
I then take about a half and hour to listen to the radio (I really like the Diane Rehm Show), browse the internet, catch up on a good audio book, watch something on YouTube from Buzzfeed, or what have you while I eat.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – From 2:00 to 4:00, I’m typically working on a second task – one that doesn’t require quite as much dedicated focus. It could be updating our donor database with information from our last mailing, putting together some graphics that I’ve already thought about earlier in the day, or doing an interview with a family staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
I also usually check in on my coworkers and see if they need anything – we all work together on common projects and events, so there is always something to do!
If I have extra time on my hands, I try to work ahead on things I know will be coming up in our schedule, or plan for events that are on the horizon, even if they’re months away. I’ve made a detailed schedule of what emails, blogs, and other materials have to get out, but it’s always nice to get a jump on planning a new fundraising ask early.
Also, I will inevitably seek out chocolate around 3pm. I now keep a little stash at my desk!
Often, I give tours to the volunteer groups who come to the House to make meals for the families that stay with us. It’s fun to meet new people and give them a look inside what daily life is like here. Those typically happen around 4pm.
After 4:00 p.m. – The day stops right at 5:00pm – I don’t do any prep work for the next day and typically my desk is a disaster area! But, I know I’ll sort it out tomorrow morning. 🙂
I don’t do any work from home and just enjoy the rest of the evening!
Thanks for sharing your day, Michelle!
Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.