Having a mentor to talk to outside of your workplace provides an invaluable reflective space, to talk through an objective, be listened to by an experienced comms professional in your field, sound out new ideas and learn about different approaches and professional experiences.
The CharityComms Peer Support Scheme sets up mentoring relationships and one-off coffee meetings between members in our network. Applicants can apply with an objective related to a specific comms challenge or new job role and we then review our extensive network of contacts to find an appropriate match with someone we think will be able to help.
A lot of the time you have your own answers, you just need to be in the right space to talk them through with someone neutral – who is willing to listen, reflect back and share their own experience. Gaining a fresh perspective can be vital in helping you progress.
During the current circumstances all meetings are happening virtually through Zoom, Facetime, Skype or whatever tools you prefer. If you need any support doing this, we’d be happy to give guidance. We also completely appreciate that circumstances are changing every day. We’re encouraging all participants on the scheme to approach their mentoring relationship with an understanding that flexibility around mentoring meetings is needed and mentoring relationships may have to go on hold if one participant enters a particularly busy time. As always, we are encouraging open and honest communication.
Having a clear objective is key – we can help with two different types of objectives:
1. Help with a specific comms challenge. Eg how to deal with a re-brand / writing a comms strategy / getting to grips with social media/ advice on a PR project etc.
I applied for a mentor to talk to as I worked through the process of putting a digital vision and roadmap in place for my charity. I was matched with Neil, head of digital at Independent Age. It's been really reassuring to have someone more experienced to soundboard my thoughts and ideas with from start to finish. Each mentoring session helped to reignite and reinspire my passion for developing and completing my digital strategy.
I had a specific objective to build my consumer media skills in order to make better use of Teach First’s case studies and explore new angles for coverage. I was matched with Catherine, head of media at Asthma UK. We met about once every six weeks. I hugely appreciated her sharing examples and best practice, while asking all the right questions to get me thinking more strategically about my plans and next steps. Our meetings provided a welcome opportunity to bounce around ideas and review my efforts to adapt consumer themes to Teach First.
2. If you’ve recently moved into a new or perhaps more senior role, and you’d like someone neutral who has experienced a similar transition to talk to while you find your feet
When I took on a new senior role as director of media in a large charity, I applied for a mentor to help me with this transition. CharityComms matched me with a very experienced communications leader in the sector. Our meetings every month were invaluable, as they allowed me to work through some of the challenges of starting a new role and think about what kind of leader I wanted to be. Having this ‘time out’ from the pressures of the busy day-to-day parts of my job and to talk to someone with a lot of experience and a neutral perspective helped me to settle into my role with confidence.
When I was promoted to communications manager, this was my first experience of a senior role, I wanted to find a head of comms who I could talk through the challenges of promoting communications within an international NGO and ask for guidance on developing an organisational comms strategy. CharityComms found a great match within the same sector. We met every couple of months. I got feedback on my draft strategy, tips for rolling it out internationally, and also was able to contact my mentor for one-off questions if I wanted to chat something through. It was fantastic to be able to step outside the organisation and get the advice of someone more experienced.
Sometimes a one-off chat over a coffee is all you need to get you on your way
We also offer the option to have a one-off meeting with someone. It can be a good opportunity to get a quick fix of inspiration and have some questions answered about a particular job role or comms query. Or maybe you’d like to brainstorm about one particular aspect of a comms project.
I got loads of great ideas out of my one-off meeting, which lasted about an hour. I wanted to brainstorm with someone about the challenges I was facing putting together a programme of messaging training. It was so reassuring to talk to a more experienced professional outside my own charity who could provide some real perspective.
Who can apply for the scheme
Our Mentoring Scheme is closed for applications from mentees over July and August. We will re-open the application process in September 2020.
How the scheme works
We ask you to fill out our online application form. It’s important that you have one clear objective to explore before applying for the scheme. You can preview the questions here. We then review our extensive network of contacts to find an appropriate match. Once we’ve made a mentoring match, an introductory email is sent to mentor and mentee, so you can arrange your first meeting. You can read how the mentoring relationships work from start to finish here.
Questions about the scheme?
If you have any questions about the Scheme or any applications you might have already made, please contact Lally Wentworth, our mentoring manager, who will be happy to help.