Mentoring and one-off coffee meetings

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.

Mentoring

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.

Samantha Doe
digital manager,
Action Against Hunger

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.

Joe Sparks
senior media adviser,
Teach First

2.) If you’ve recently moved into a new, perhaps a more senior role and you’d like someone neutral to talk to while you find your feet who has experienced a similar transition.

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

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

One-off meeting

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 was looking for advice on getting into a more senior creative role within a large charity. I was matched with Helen, creative director at Shelter. When we met we went over my employment history and clarified my career goals. Helen spoke to me about her own career journey and we brainstormed things I can do in my day-to-day current job to help me reach my ultimate goal. The meeting with Helen allowed me to realise I've been a senior creative for a number of years but that I have to believe I'm one too and speak about my skills and experience with confidence in order to progress.

Marcel Reinard
video producer,
Cystic Fibrosis Trust

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

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. The application process for mentees is currently closed and will re-open from 28 January 2019 – 1 July 2019 and close over the summer until September 2019.

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.