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Five reasons to be a CharityComms mentor

15 June 2015

There’s a Buddhist saying: “If you light a lamp for someone it will also brighten your own path.” That’s how I feel about being a mentor.

I am currently supporting my second mentee through the CharityComms mentoring scheme. It’s been a very positive experience and I want to encourage other experienced charity sector marketing and communications people to get involved. More volunteer mentors are needed – have you got what it takes?

Here are my five reasons why you should give it a try:

1. Quite simply, it is really enjoyable

I have thoroughly enjoyed my mentoring experiences so far. Not only is it rewarding to know that I am helping someone, but it has also taught me a lot. And I can’t fault that nice ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling it gives me!

2. It doesn’t take up as much time as you think

Typically I have seen my mentees for one to two hours every six weeks. I worked with my first mentee for only a couple of months as we resolved their issue quickly and then they didn’t require further support. The CharityComms guidance suggests that, ideally, the relationship should last up to a year, but it depends on what your mentee needs and what you agree between you.

3. It can provide you with a valuable professional development opportunity

You will learn something about a different working environment through listening to your mentee’s experiences. It can help you to develop those listening skills and each issue comes with challenges to be met, understood and resolved.

In my experience, in helping your mentee, you learn a lot about yourself. It isn’t only about sitting there proffering your advice, it’s also about discovering the best way to help them explore their challenges and find solutions.

4. The scheme is well organised

I am sure everyone in the charity sector knows that good organisation is vital to the success of any volunteering scheme. The scheme is run seamlessly by CharityComms. She manages the matching process, decides which mentors would suit the mentees and, provides guidelines to help them understand the scheme. The team also checks in with both parties regularly to ensure the relationship is working well and to learn of any issues that may need her attention.

5. It is a nice thing to do!

I know those that work for and with charities don’t need to be convinced about ‘doing the right thing’, as they have chosen to work in the sector. But it is really nice to be able to support somebody and be part of their developmental journey.

I have been lucky enough to have had mentors myself and therfore I know how much difference they really can make. I felt like this was my opportunity to ‘pay it forward’.

How to sign up

If you are an experienced marketing/communications person (you don’t need to be director/CEO level, just somebody who has good experience in the sector) and think you would like to be a mentor, you can find out more and register your interest here.

CharityComms would ideally like all mentors to be members of the organisation (you can find details about joining the network of charity communications professionals here), but it isn’t always a requirement as the demand for mentors is high. Consultants and freelancers with relevant experience in the sector are also welcome to apply to become a mentor (you can find out more about corporate partnership here).

If you are reading this and would like a mentor, you can find out more about that here; you do need to be working for a CharityComms organisational member to be a mentee.

Abby Wright-Parkes

director of membership and marketing, FSRH

Abby is an experienced membership and marketing communications professional. The former director of membership and marketing at ACEVO, Abby set up Optimist Consulting in 2011. She provides membership development, marketing and social media services to a range of membership and professional bodies, including the Institute of Biomedical Science, CharityComms, Slow Food and The Clothworkers' Company.