You may have heard that working with a mentor can accelerate your growth in your nonprofit career. A mentor can streamline your learning process and help you stand clear of the pitfalls that most people without a mentor go through.
“I felt so confident going into the Board meeting, knowing that I had a fundraising plan,” said a recent mentee of mine. She and I had put together a one-page fundraising plan for the small nonprofit and this Executive Director knew exactly how they were going to raise the money next year to meet the budget. She was empowered and so was her Board after looking at the plan. That is the power of mentoring.
However, trying to find the right mentor can be a challenge. Use these tips to help you in selecting one.
A Mentor with Integrity
It seems obvious that a good mentor should have integrity. However, some people look good on the surface, and deep down they won’t take the relationship seriously, or worse, will throw you under the bus.
Knowing whether a person has integrity is going to take some detective work. You may want to ask questions of others who know the potential mentor. If something is not right with the person, others will clue you in on their experiences. Try to find out some information online about the person. Use search engines, ask questions in forums, ask questions on social networks. Your research might take a little while, but it will be time well spent.
A Mentor with a Good Knowledge Base
Mentors should also have a good knowledge base. You don’t want to find a mentor who has never experienced what you are trying to learn. Some people are good at pretending. However, when you come across situations that require certain expertise, these people will fall short. To know whether a potential has the necessary knowledge base, try to get references. Again, online information may uncover the truth about your potential candidates.
At first, you may believe you should choose someone who is like you. However, sometimes the best mentors are those who are different from you. They offer a diversity that you would not get from someone similar. You will gain the perspective of someone different than you.
A Mentor with Connections
Try to find a mentor who is well connected. It’s great if a mentor is knowledgeable about your field. However, if they have a good network, this will advance you quicker than someone who does not network well. Your potential mentor can hook you up with the right people at the start rather than getting you into situations that won’t work for you.
You can choose whether to find a mentor to pay or someone willing to help you for free. Both situations have advantages. Whether you find a free mentor or one you will pay, make sure you spell out the agreement ahead of time. Ask what they expect of you and mutually determine who is responsible for what. A good mentoring arrangement measures success or failure. Otherwise, you have no way to know if it is working out.
When I mentor nonprofit Founders or Executive Directors, we talk about the challenge, formulate a plan, and every week we video call to work through the next action step. We bounce ideas off each other to find the right solution for the person and the organization. These nonprofit leaders aren’t alone.
If you find yourself needing someone to work through challenges with, book a mentoring informational call with me. It’s a free no pressure call.