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Mentoring and one-off meetings

A bit more detail about the mentoring experience for those interested in giving it a try.

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.

CharityComms sets up virtual mentoring relationships and one-off meetings between members in our network. Applicants can apply with a specific objective and we then review our extensive network of contacts to find an appropriate match with someone we think will be able to help. The scheme is a personal matching service that we run exclusively for our organisational members, although anyone is welcome to apply as a mentor.

Before you apply

What is your objective for being matched with a mentor?

It’s important to be clear on one objective that you’d like to work on before we can match you with a mentor:

  • New role / step-up: Recently moved into a new or more senior role, would like someone neutral who has experienced a similar transition to talk to while finding my feet
  • Working on stepping up to the next level: Aiming to move up to a more senior role – would like to brainstorm ideas with a mentor about what to be doing to move in this direction
  • Specific comms challenge: 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.
  • Support with management / leadership: Learn / share ideas / get inspiration about managing / leading a charity communications team
  • Career inspiration: A one-off chat to find out more about a particular charity comms role / what it’s like working for a specific kind of charity / ideas for future career moves.

Do you want to a one-off meeting or a longer term mentoring relationship?
Longer term mentoring relationships tend to go on for around 6 months and is a good way of tracking progression with a certain project or settling-in time with a new job. A one-off meeting can also be a good opportunity to get a quick fix of inspiration and have some questions answered about a particular job role or comms query. Have a think before applying which you’d prefer.

Who can apply for the scheme

The scheme is a personal matching service that we run exclusively for our organisational members, although anyone is welcome to apply as a mentor.

How the scheme works

We ask you to fill out our online application form (see button below). 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.

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.

Samantha Doe

head of digital and engagement , Sands

“I knew straight away that this was going to be a hugely valuable experience. My mentor and I talked about what we both wanted from the space and set the agenda together. I manage social media at my charity, so I really wanted to talk to someone with experience in this area. Each week we’d talk through an issue I was having, or an area I wanted to gain confidence in; we’d chat through it, set some actions, and I’d leave feeling even more passionate about work. It was so lovely to have someone who understood my little jokes, frustrations, and love for social media. It felt like the kind of work friendship that can be hard to find when you’re the only one handling social media in your charity. It also helped to bridge some of the isolation that comes from working at home.”

Jake Edwards

communications manager , Peer Power

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.

Pasca Lane

director of media, British Red Cross

“I was looking to move up to the next stage in my career and applied to the CharityComms mentoring scheme for guidance on how to do so. I was matched with someone far more experienced than I’d ever have come across otherwise, who was able to help me identify and put in place a plan to remedy my skill gaps. They provided practical advice for planning my career, outlined opportunities for development outside of my day to day role, and also helped me practice for interviews. It was incredibly valuable to have a sounding board for my ideas, and reassuring to hear that some of the challenges I was facing weren’t just unique to me. Having successfully moved to a more senior role, I’ve been inspired to return the favour and am now mentoring someone myself.”

Alex Clarke

senior campaigns and public affairs officer , Citizens Advice

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.

Anna Pietrowski

senior content manager, Age UK

“When I applied for a mentor, what I wanted was someone who understood my industry and its challenges, while encouraging me to approach projects in a way that’d lead to positive conversations and outcomes. What I got through CharityComms was this and so much more. My mentor became my champion, peer and friend.
As a Mixed-Race woman, being matched with a Black female was a breath of fresh air – and to complete our mentoring programme during a time when equality and diversity issues were so prevalent meant I had a safe space to reflect both personally and professionally. We took the time to build rapport, develop trust and that opened the door for high-quality feedback. I signed up for career support but left with personal goals that’ll stand me in good stead no matter where I work.”

Donna White

senior head of digital marketing, The Prince's Trust

"I was going back to full-time work after a year of maternity leave. I'd only been in my role for 5 months before that, and knew I'd need support navigating the transition and re-establishing myself in the charity. Plus, while I'd been off, the pandemic had changed the way we work and my team was exhausted. My mentor was brilliant. She gave me the space and support to step back, identify the challenges, and work through my approach to tackling them. And she reminded me to be kind to myself! Our meetings helped give me the confidence to develop as a leader, introduce new ideas to the charity, and make a successful business case to grow my team."

Pia Dawson

Content Lead, Parkinson's UK

“When I started my first communications role in the charity sector, it was incredibly valuable to speak to a CharityComms mentor. It was fantastic to be able to speak to someone outside of where I work to bounce ideas off and to get a different perspective on projects. It has also been extremely useful to have a chance to learn from someone more experienced than me and to have another dedicated space to discuss personal development. I now have another CharityComms mentor after taking on a more senior role and it’s been amazing to have someone to help me this transition. I always come away from my mentoring sessions armed with new ideas and skills to tackle different challenges.”

Weilin Wu

research impact manager, Cancer Research UK

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.

Elizabeth Bourne

communications manager, Saferworld

“I applied to the CharityComms mentoring scheme with a clear objective to support my ambition to move from a senior officer to manager role. I had a brilliant and supportive employer and had been able to take on more responsibility previously but given the organisations size this option was not open to me again. Being a mentee was a fantastic experience. I was well supported and able to have candid conversations about my career objectives, current situation and future opportunities. My mentor was able to be a high support and high challenge – celebrating achievements while offering advice to support my move to a more senior position. Being able to talk to someone who had been in my position before was reassuring and offered new insight into possibilities in terms of role and organisations. My mentor and the scheme were instrumental in getting my new Communications Manager role at Forward Trust and I would (and regularly do) recommend it to anyone looking to make their next charity comms move!”

Louis Vine

communications manager, Forward Trust