Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A day in the life of a nonprofit worker

1. What is your name, organization and job title (you don't have to give your name/organization if you don't want to- it can be anonymous)
Holly Wagg, ArtsSmarts Manager, Funds Development/Marketing

ArtsSmarts uses the arts to engage kids in learning. The ArtsSmarts model brings artists and teachers together to develop an arts-infused unit that meets provincial curriculum standards. Grounded in the local community and environment, ArtsSmarts does things like using dance to teach science, drumming to teach math, song production to teach language arts or film making to explore culture in the classroom.

2. What is the first thing you do when you get in the office?
After I put my lunch in the fridge, I fire up my computer and spend the first 30 minutes skimming my RSS feed, reading relevant blogs, responding to emails and getting ready to tackle the day ahead.

3. How do you spend your lunch break?
At my desk!

However, one of my employment must-haves is a flexible schedule and I’m trying very hard to maintain a work-life balance. As such, the deal I make with myself is that I rarely take a lunch break or daily breaks. This means I regularly plan to put in 5 additional hours a week, without extending the amount of time I spend in the office, by the way I structure my day. I have two kids and they always need to be shuttled from one appointment to the next. The extra time I put in I can use as lieu so that I’m available to meet my kids’ needs.

4. Which part of your work do you enjoy most?
I work in a very small not-for-profit (3 person total in our office) and I love that I get to be engaged in every part of the organization’s activities and making sure that what we do with our programs, finances and operations is linked to where we want to go with our fundraising. Plus, we’re an organization in a start-up phase as we’re in the midst of transitioning from being the program of a funder to an autonomous, charitable organization in our own right. I really like working with not-for-profits in the early stages of development where you get to make a lot of decisions that will shape the future and core of what an organization becomes.

5. Please finish this sentence: If someone wanted my job, they would have to…..
Always be ready to adapt and cultivate the skills necessary to get the job done in the most cost-effective way possible. You’d also have to work hard, work fast and be good at helping people see why they should invest in this particular method of arts education.

6. What advice or tips do you have for other nonprofit professionals in your position?
Prior to ArtsSmarts, I worked in the not-for-profit sector for 8 years primarily in a communications/marketing capacity. I decided last year that I needed to do something different, and after a long exploration of what mattered to me and what I needed to get out/give back through my work, I decided to enter my second career in funds development. Fundraising involves a lot more than simply finding and asking for money and I wish I hadn’t written it off early in my career to only later discover that it’s a really good fit.

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