Mentoring is a development partnership through which one person shares knowledge, experience, skills or information to support the development of someone else. CharityComms matches comms professionals working in the charity sector in mentoring relationships with external comms colleagues to help them with their professional development.
"I’ve found becoming a mentor a hugely rewarding experience. I’ve really enjoyed supporting someone to think about how to make the most of opportunities, and tackle challenges, that they face in their roles and how they can develop their skills. It’s an opportunity to share your own career journey to support and encourage someone else, and act as a sounding board when they often have the answers themselves! I’d really encourage anyone to consider becoming a mentor. It’s definitely been a mutually beneficial relationship; I’ve enjoyed learning from my mentee as much as I have supporting them."
We are currently looking for mentors across all comms disciplines and at all levels. The mentoring scheme is a personal matching service. Applicants fill out an online form with information on their job role, career experience and what they’re looking to get out of the scheme so CharityComms can make an appropriate mentoring match.
Benefits of being a mentor:
- Share your knowledge and experience and help others progress in their career
- Develop and build on your coaching and managerial skills
- Get insight into the working world at different organisations
- Be introduced to new ideas and ways of doing things
- Engage with someone in a different job role from your own
“I work in a busy environment and I manage a team. Why take on more responsibility?! I am a giving person, yet, I had concerns about ‘giving up my time’. I am so glad these concerns didn’t stop me! I started mentoring a few years ago and never looked back. It’s just as much of learning role for the mentor, as everyone’s need is different. And I enjoy making a connection. If you have a hunger to learn and share knowledge, then, becoming a mentor is an experience you will cherish. CharityComms work really hard behind the scenes to find a ‘match’. My number one tip is to agree with your mentee about the goal from the beginning. Follow your gut and remain open-minded when you consider your mentee’s request. You meet initially to confirm the professional affinity by discussing and agreeing your mutual ground rules. Everything in-between is whatever you both bring to it.”
Mentees on the scheme need help with these areas:
- 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.
Defining how it’s going to work
Once we’ve made a mentoring match, an intro email is sent to mentor and mentee, so you can arrange your first meeting. This is a chance to get to know each other, talk about the mentee’s objectives, let the mentee know how you feel you might be able to help as a mentor and assess if it feels like a good match. We provide you with a check-list of what to go through on your first meeting, which includes planning how often you’ll meet and roughly over what time period (on average people tend to meet every four-six weeks for an hour or so over a time period of six-twelve months).
Keep reviewing how it’s going
We suggest reviewing how things are going after a few sessions. CharityComms will also check in with you both from time to time to see how you’re getting on. We have guidelines on how to keep on track with your mentee’s objectives here.
Be open about how long you’ll be meeting
The length of time a mentoring relationship continues varies between everyone. It’s good to discuss this with your mentee when you start the mentoring. You can read more about how to approach the end of mentoring someone here.
Who can become a mentor?
You don’t have to have 20 years of experience to be a mentor for us. People from different sized charities and job levels apply for mentors on our scheme, from comms assistants to associate directors of communications. So we’re looking to recruit a broad range of mentors.
What does a mentor do?
- Acts as a sounding board for a mentee to talk through decisions and ideas
- Passes on useful know-how and experience
- Acts as a gateway to other people and sources of knowledge
- Helps a mentee to establish realistic career goals and decide how they might achieve them
- Challenges a mentee to face up to opportunities and problems, personal strengths and weaknesses
- Different people will have different issues they’d like to address. Some people will be working on a specific project that they might want the expertise of a mentor to bounce ideas around with, for example refreshing their website or putting together a comms strategy. Others might have just taken on a new role with more responsibility than they are used to and want to have a senior colleague to be able to share the experience with, while others might want inspiration on how to move forward in their career.
Who makes a good mentor?
Someone who is:
- Interested and willing to help others
- Prepared to give time and mental energy to a mentee
- Able to challenge assumptions and statements a mentee makes
- Experienced and can offer a broad perspective
- Competent in listening, questioning and facilitating
We’re always on the look-out for more mentors on our scheme, the first step is to fill out a brief online application form, to give us a bit of background info on you to help us make a good match.
“We keep track of how we're doing against our schedule. I don't like to impose structure but will mention actions we set at the end of a session at the beginning of our next meeting.”
“Taking part as a mentor on the scheme helped me to develop my coaching and communication skills. Not every person needs the same approach, so it's important to invest in what is needed at the beginning and take the time to really get to know your mentee and talk around what would be most helpful for them. Listening and taking this in from the start really helped me to make sure I was direct and succinct with what I was feeding back through the mentoring process. It was a positive experience for me and I felt like I got as much out of the process as my mentee.”
“Being a mentor on the CharityComms mentoring scheme is a truly rewarding experience. I have met so many incredible people, who often work in very difficult circumstances, to support the work of their charity. It is a deeply fulfilling experience to work with motivated, committed and passionate people who want to grow and develop in their careers, challenge their own assumptions and build confidence in their futures. It’s a privilege to be part of that and CharityComms’ role in matching mentors and mentees is very important in our sector. I have learnt a great deal from my mentees and their experiences and have been grateful for that opportunity.”
“Being honest with each other is so important in the first meeting. To introduce myself, I talk a bit about my background as it helps potential mentees consider if I’m the right mentor for them.”
“Mentoring is a wonderful opportunity to share your experiences with others and the lessons you’ve learned.
I have also learnt so much during the process and find it invaluable.
I always recommend the CharityComms mentoring scheme to my team so they have someone to speak to even with sensitive issues.The experience can really change your career or the way you work for good.”
“There are so many great people in this sector, all wrestling with complex problems as they try to make the world a better place. Mentoring is a critical way to share knowledge, uncover new ideas and build connections. It has been a privilege to work with my mentee over several months, seeing them grow in confidence and push their ideas in new directions. It’s also been a really pleasant surprise to gain so much myself through being a mentor – it has challenged me and inspired me and taught me so much. I have really enjoyed the experience.”
“For me, talking about the end of a mentoring relationship starts in your very first meeting. With my three mentees, we agreed a 12-month timescale in the first session.”
“Being a mentor has allowed me to further utilise a few passions of mine - like digital marketing, management, active listening, emotional intelligence and helping others. I was looking forward to the catch-ups with my mentee, hearing about how they had been getting on and outcomes from approaches we’d discussed and helping them talk through next steps. Hearing positive feedback from my mentee about my support and seeing my mentee achieve their goals has felt incredibly rewarding. For me, this has meant, that my experience has been put to good use and I’ve made a positive difference to a person, an organisation and a cause. I’ve also gained useful insight into how other organisations approach common challenges and how those approaches are working out. This has helped me broaden my horizons and learn from my mentee.”