Covid-19,  Day in Life

A Day in the Life – Covid-19 Edition – Kat Steiner, CFRE

Covid-19 is disrupting business as usual. Curious to know how your fundraising colleagues are managing and keeping the balls in the air in other places? Here’s the Covid-Edition of “A Day in the Life”. A BIG thank you to Kat, who is one of the most thoughtful and resourceful fundraisers I know and immediately agreed to share what effects she’s experiencing. Thank you, Kat!


Kat Steiner, CFRE, Director of Development, The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio

Kat has more than a decade of fundraising experience in higher ed and emergency response. She is the Development Director of Western Ohio, which is the 6th largest council in the nation. It serves 39K+ girls in a 32-county area throughout western Ohio and southeast Indiana, with the help of 12,000+ dedicated volunteers. Kat is a CFRE, a current board member of the AFP Cincinnati Chapter, and YWCA Rising Star Day.


From Kat:

Our reality is changing, and I’ve been actively working to figure out how to communicate: Here’s what we’re doing, here’s how you can help, and here’s how you’re seen. March 10 was my annual signature fundraiser with appetizers and an open bar, and the very next day, the virus just exploded. The virus is completely disrupting our ways of working and it’s giving all of us a new perspective.

To fundraising, I’m learning to stop with the tasking and start thinking holistically.  I’m very sensitive to the fact that one in five people are projected to be unemployed. For me, this is an opportunity to put a pin in donor asking and to focus on donor relations. We have the amazing good fortune to work with generous people who inspire me and I think it’s important to take care of them. Now is the time to be sensitive to solicitations and to be there for our people. Let’s slow down and do this right!

Before 8:00 am before Covid-19: 5:15 am – Wake up. When the alarm goes off, the first thing I do is look at emails and then my calendar for the day. I get up 3 times a week to exercise at 5:30 am. I get up, brush my teeth, put my workout clothes on and head out the door. I’m a single mom, so this the only time that I’ve been able to consistently workout. I’m home by 6:30 am so that I can get my son, David, up, make breakfast (always eggs and toast), and get him ready for school by 7:45 am. From there, we get in the car and I drop him off at the junior high school.

Before 8:00 am after Covid-19: 6:30 am- Wake up. I still look at emails and daily calendar before I’m out of bed. I also continue to exercise for my mental health. It’s important for me to get in 5,000 steps before getting in the shower and making breakfast. Online schooling means there’s not a school drop off, but we’re both settled in on our computers by 8:00 am ready for our day!

8:00 am to 10:00 am before Covid-19: I have left the house by 8 am and I usually have a 30 minute commute where I listen to podcasts or an audiobook. It’s an efficient use of my time. It’s not unusual to have morning meetings with donors for coffee or breakfast. Many like to meet before 9 am. If I don’t have a morning meeting then when I get in my office I read my daily emails, open Donor Perfect to see if any gifts have processed, and send out email confirmations or agendas for meetings that day. If my day isn’t too busy, I’ll do a few quick thank you notes or emails to donors to express gratitude for their support and I touch base with team members. By about 8:30, my day is in full swing with meetings, calls to donors, portfolio reviews, and coffee visits.

Depending on the time of year, I have two modes. There is special event planning and then managing my donor portfolio. Either way, my day consists of a lot of planning, setting up meetings, coordinating, and rescheduling. When you’re trying to meet up with really busy people, cancellations are common. It involves a lot of logistics, which is a tough part of the job. Scheduling a meeting for seven or eight people on an event committee or to see four busy donors over a week can be difficult as schedules are constantly changing. Winters can be terrible with snow impacting travel plans and peoples’ schedules.

8:00 am to 10:00 am after Covid-19: No commute! The routine of responding to emails, Donor Perfect, and email confirmations is important and remains. I’ve found that connecting with my colleagues has been more important than ever. Leadership in these times is often a warm affirmation and being empathetic to others is necessary during these uncertain times. Positivity is so important and I try to be a light for others!

10:00 am to 12:00 pm before Covid-19:  This really depends on the day. I really like having time to work without any interruptions but this is when Girl Scouts often schedules regional and team meetings. This is when I try to work through all the critical stuff that absolutely must get done that day. So, donor calls, sponsorship drafts, and any important deadlines all ideally get done before lunch because I’m not always back at my desk in the afternoon.

10:00 am to 12:00 pm after Covid-19: The world has taken a pause. Emotions and anxieties are super high. That means that sponsorships, solicitations, and deadlines are all in question. Sensitivity is critical and so is donor relations! This is a time to be there for our donors.  For me, I’ve spent hours intentionally calling donors to ask how they’re doing and to do wellness checks. The calls have been well received and – because most everyone is at home – people are answering! This has been an amazing way to authentically connect while genuinely caring about people and letting them know we are all trying to figure this out.

12:00 pm to 2:00 pm before Covid-19:  There is about a 40% chance that I have a donor visit for lunch. If I’m not meeting with a donor, board member, or event committee member then lunch is at my desk. I seldom go out for lunch unless it’s a donor visit because, to me, it’s valuable time to work. I usually eat lunch at my desk and spend time preparing for an afternoon meeting or visit. It could be fine tuning a case for support or doing prospect research or even making copies, but it’s likely that I’m already strategically moving the needle on a future encounter.

12:00 pm to 2:00 pm after Covid-19: Currently, I’m really working on communicating with donors and friends. It’s the perfect time for stewardship and also to give donors love! We’re taking acknowledgments remote and digital. Emails and telephone calls are currently in the que, but I’m also exploring ways to communicate with different technology. How do I add value for people? I’m working on sending a video to everyone in my portfolio. I personally believe that during this time video needs to be first and text needs to be second. I’ve done my first Zoom and am currently setting up a virtual happy hour. Trying to figure out what’s next!

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm before Covid-19: This when the majority of my external meetings are scheduled. Meetings with donors, volunteers, vendors, fellow AFP board members, Rotarians, colleagues – you name it. More often than not, I’m off-site but I do my best to follow-up post meeting email before the day end that either outlines action items or simply says thanks. I also spend time preparing for the next day – both mentally and also with prospect research, collecting marketing collateral, or firming up agendas.

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm after Covid-19: Right now, the state of Ohio stops for Governor Mike DeWine’s 2:00 pm press conference. This is something that is important for me to watch to inform strategy. Later in the day, I’ve explored virtual learning and professional development opportunity. Girl Scouts has requested a daily activity report is emailed at the end of the day which allows me the opportunity to reflect on what donors are saying and inform moves management.

One Comment

  • Robin Henry

    Awesome Kat! I’m so glad to see you on here. I sold It Figures in Urbana, and now work for Junior Achievement of the Mad River. I’m very new to Non-Profits, and really appreciate your words of wisdom. What I gleaned from this the most is CONNECTIONS/CARING/RELATIONSHIP BUILDING. Thank you!

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