Mentor magic

Can’t afford a fundraiser but desperately need to generate income? A mentor could be the solution, says Lindsey Marsh

Fundraising mentors are individuals who know a lot about income generation, whether professionally or as experienced volunteers. They offer a range of support – from one-off sessions, to regular or ad-hoc advice.

Many are happy to visit your school and give face-to-face guidance (social distancing rules permitting), while others are able to provide ‘distance mentoring’ by phone, email or online meetings. So whatever your needs and budget, and however much time you have, there are mentors who can help.

Mentors can discuss your fundraising plans and offer feedback and ideas to help you grow your knowledge and develop your plans. They can share their experiences with you, help you set goals and refer you to the strategies and tools you need to succeed. And if you have any barriers, they can help you overcome these too.

One of the best things about calling on a mentor is that most mentors offer their services for free (for those that do charge, fees are usually set to cover expenses only).

If you are lacking confidence about fundraising, then you can receive support from people who have ‘been there, done that’ and who can put you on the right track for fundraising success. Not only can they empower and inspire you, they can also bring fresh ideas, open doors and sometimes offer additional help through their wider networks.

This is a win-win relationship. For mentees, it provides a trusted and experienced ‘go-to’ person with an objective outlook. This can be particularly useful for those in lonely school fundraising roles.

And for mentors, it offers opportunities to develop skills in leadership, enhance their CV and gain recognition as a subject matter expert. It can also be enjoyable and reaffirm their abilities when they see the mentee grow and succeed.

Schools will gain too, because offering a mentoring programme reinforces their commitment to staff development in a cost-effective way, and can make them an attractive employer to work or volunteer for.

How to find a mentor

  • Ask your networks – perhaps a parent, alumni or member of staff in another school has time and experience to mentor you.
  • Ask your wider contacts for recommendations. People often feel flattered that you asked and if they can’t help, they may be able to refer you to someone who can. 
  • It is essential that the mentor you choose is trustworthy, reliable and a good fit for your needs and your school.

Useful contacts:

Lindsey Marsh is the author of The School Fundraising Handbook, which she wrote after fundraising for two schools. She has also worked as a charity fundraiser and CSR co-ordinator.

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