2 In Career

My Typical Day as a Nonprofit Communications Manager

A look into my typical work day as a nonprofit communications manager—and it's more than just taking photos of cute kittens all day.
“What do you do all day?” That’s probably my favorite question I get about my job. But please don’t make me answer it.

I’m kidding… I’ll answer, but it’s almost easier to let family and friends think I just post pictures of cute pets on Facebook all day. But that’s only because there is no typical day as a one-woman communications department. I work full-time for our local humane society, managing all things communications, marketing, and advertising. And I love my job. I love my job so much I feel guilty for it whenever I’m around friends who are only lukewarm about their own.

But loving my job doesn’t keep the work days from being unpredictable, and sometimes, even a little chaotic. And that’s what makes the question so hard: “What do you do all day?” You’ll need to pick a specific one, because none of them are the same. But I’m going to try my damnest to boil it down anyway.

The short answer to the question? Everything. The long answer? Keep reading.


5:30 a.m. — The alarm goes off. The theory of starting the day early always sounds so productive, but the actual practice of it makes me a little grumpy. I make a sleepy walk to the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee and feed the cat.

5:45 a.m. — I settle onto the couch with my Day Designer and laptop, praying that the coffee kicks in soon. This first part of the morning is all about wrapping my head around the day to come. I map out my schedule and to-do list; check my email and respond to urgent messages; and scan my social media and the headlines. Getting ahead of my schedule, even just on paper, helps me feel a little more grounded going into the day.

6:30 a.m. — Most every morning includes a workout, especially if I’m on one of my hardcore health kicks. I started using the 8Fit app last month and love how the short workouts fit into my morning routine.

7:00 a.m. — By this time, I’ve grabbed a shower and my second cup of coffee. I make a quick breakfast, scroll through Instagram one more time, and finish getting ready for the day.

8:00 a.m. — I’m out the door and heading to work. Living in a small town has its perks, including one of the smoothest morning commutes I’ve had in years.

8:30 a.m. — The work day has officially started. While some of the shelter team has already been there for hours, I’m usually one of the first to arrive in the administration office. This quiet time is my favorite part of the day. I power through any urgent messages and open up my project management app to double check the day’s tasks. While I love my paper planner, I use Asana to manage my work-related to-do list.

9:00 a.m. — Once I’ve chipped away at the top of my inbox, it’s on to social media and any urgent media requests. As a one-woman department, I have my hands in everything—from social media to media relations. But by this time, I’m no longer the only person in the office. I refill my water bottle, chat with coworkers, and then head back to my desk to schedule out social media content for the rest of the day.

10:00 a.m. — Morning tends to be my most creative time. I always try to take advantage of the mindset and tackle any writing or design project on the agenda—with a good playlist and a fresh cup of coffee, of course. It might be a press release, social media graphics, a promotional banner… If there’s a day my to-do list looks identical to the day before, I know something is very wrong.

11:30 a.m. — The shelter is buzzing right before the building opens to the public. That’s my cue to wrap up whatever project I’m working on. Depending on the day of the week, I might be rushing to a staff meeting before finally breaking for food.


12:15 p.m. — Lunch time! Sometimes I’ll take a true lunch break to run errands or grab a meal with my dad, but I usually eat at my desk—a bad habit left over from my PR agency days. You’ll catch me scrolling through social media or figuring out what sort of puppy I am based on some riveting Buzzfeed quiz.

1:00 p.m. — In a perfect world, I’d be able to schedule my afternoon nap right now. But instead, I’m usually sitting down with the head of my department to brief her on projects for the week or heading downtown for a meeting with an advertising rep.

2:15 pm. — By now, my inbox has filled right back up. But before I even touch that mess, it’s time for an afternoon coffee break. Or even better, a walk through the kennels to visit the animals. Cuddling kittens makes even a chaotic afternoon completely manageable.

A look into my typical work day as a nonprofit communications manager—and it's more than just taking photos of cute kittens all day.
2:30 p.m. — I’m back at my desk to answer emails, place a printing order, run updates on our website, or whatever other administrative tasks have been clogging up my to-do list for the week. My job is equal parts creative, strategic, and housekeeping.

3:00 p.m. — I move into editing articles for our quarterly magazine or send off a couple email reminders about deadlines to my writers.

3:45 p.m. — Social media never stops, so I always manage to do another check-in during the afternoon—answering customer questions, responding to comments, etc.

4:15 p.m. — Even though the shelter is open well into the evening, it’s time to start wrapping up my day. I review advertising proofs, sign purchase orders, or organize any photos I snapped during the day.


4:45 p.m. — I take one last glance at my inbox before logging out for the day. Coworkers are slowly filtering out of the office. It’s time to go home.

5:15 p.m. — That whole work before play thing? It’s true, at least on a weekday. I leave the shelter around 5 o’clock, and depending on the night, I’m usually heading to happy hour with a friend or dinner with the family.

7:00 p.m. — Almost 12 hours later, I’m finally back home. I’m barely allowed to put down my bag before a demanding cat of mine come screaming for dinner. After she’s fed, I clean up a little around the house and swap work clothes for yoga pants.

8:00 p.m. — Netflix, couch, beer. It’s not that same combination every night, but it’s my go-to for decompressing after a long day. I try to stay as far away from electronics as possible, but sometimes catch myself scrolling through Feedly or working on a blog post if inspiration strikes.

10:30 p.m. — My inner grandma is screaming at me for that broken “one more episode” promise. I finally listen, unplugging and heading to bed for the night. Lord knows that early morning alarm is going to come blaring way too soon.


  • Reply
    Kate Haley
    July 3, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Love this! And you!

  • Reply
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    […] My Typical Day as a Nonprofit Communications Manager […]

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