The Importance of Mentorship

The key to nonprofit business success: a mentor. Having one can help you and your organization attain professional prosperity by creating a path to achievement and leading by example. Here’s how.

“Mentorship is the sharing of your expertise, experiences and advice with someone who does not have them.” According to Kayla Matthews in “6 Ways to Be a Rock Star Nonprofit Mentor,” 75% of corporate managers believe mentorship was crucial to their own success. Nonprofits are no different.

Matthews says mentorship is less common in the nonprofit world but believes that should change and cites two groups, the Center for Nonprofit Development and the SCORE Mentors Group on LinkedIn, that can “link seasoned business and nonprofit professionals with those looking for mentoring.”

Whether you’ve worked in nonprofits for a few years or are brand new to the scene, a trusted friend or colleague is a valuable resource. No matter how much experience you bring to the table, you can always benefit from consulting people who have been in your shoes before.

“The value of being mentored seems pretty obvious: new skills, confidence, friendship, etc. And in fact, the research shows that people who are mentored get more job promotions and earn more than people who aren’t, according to the Huffington Post.

And if you are a seasoned veteran, consider carving out some time to mentor another nonprofit professional; in addition to helping someone, this opens up a new realm of connections and people who could assist you in your fundraising and other aspects of running your nonprofit.

“You can help impact your community through more than just your nonprofit’s mission by assisting other nonprofits as they navigate some of the obstacles and issues you faced while learning the ropes,” according to Nonprofithub.org. “By imparting the lessons you’ve learned through your work, you’re helping other nonprofits be more effective and speed up the learning curve.”

In “How to Find a Mentor in 5 Steps,” Phil George, co-founder and CEO of mentoring software business MentorcliQ, says many people believe that their perfect mentor should be one individual who has overcome all the challenges they face and embodies everything they want to be. But it’s important to realize that the best mentor may not be one person who helps with everything, but a collection of different people with various insights.

“Sometimes the traits or experience you are looking for can’t be found in one person,” notes Alves in “10 Quick Tips to Find a Nonprofit Mentor.” “If this is the case, it may be better to seek out multiple mentors instead of limiting yourself to just one. Having multiple nonprofit mentors also adds different perspectives to your challenges and can help you gain clarity and determine the best course of action.”

Occasionally, mentees don’t know how to begin tapping into this great source of information or they may feel a bit awkward about asking particular questions. Some questions successful executives wish they had asked their own mentors many years ago include:

  • What three things in the last three years taught you the most?
  • What is one thing I can do today to be more effective?
  • What do you wish you knew at my career stage?
  • What are my blind spots?

It’s also important that you ask about how you can learn effectively and consistently. As Tracey Welson-Rossman, the founder and CEO of TechGirlz, a nonprofit that advances girls in tech, tells CNBC, “Continuous learning is an imperative part of remaining relevant and advancing in your career.