Tag Archives: Mentorship


The following key points are important to consider when setting up a Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Diversity is a reality in all of our work and bring unique perspectives to our organization.

1. Visible and invisible diversity

Representation on the committee, beyond identifying based on gender, race/ethnicity, and age is important. Consider employing a survey to allow individuals to self-identify to understand the true landscape and demographic of your organization. Representation includes, but is not limited to:

  • Gender
  • Indigeneity
  • Ethnicity/Race
  • Age
  • Power and position (social/administrative/economic/other)
  • Disability
  • Sexuality

2. Representation – avoid tokenism

Consider a range of professional experiences and life experiences – invitations, grounded in respect for both professional knowledge and life experience, are less likely to be felt as token representation. Invite participants with both diversity knowledge and identity-linked perspective that relate to the goals of the committee rather than just their identity.

3. Create a safe space for contribution

A strong introduction to allow everyone to share their own perspectives and lived experiences, as well ground rules to participation is important to ensure a safe space has been created. Employees with ‘less power’ might fear repercussions for not agreeing with a majority perspective. It is therefore important to consider and attended to the group dynamics. When setting up the committee, it is also important to consider and assess any participation-related needs and/or access barriers.

4. Voting – an unpressured decision-making tool

Consensus can be challenging when everyone has diverse experiences and perspectives. Whenever appropriate, voting by secret ballot can allow participants to influence the direction of the group without having to publicly stating their opinion or views on a topic.

5. Leadership – include a decision maker at the table

To ensure that the ideas and goals of the committee can move forward in a meaningful way and within the bounds of the organization, include an individual that is a ‘decision maker’. They are your ally at the leadership level that can advocate and move forward the mandate of the D&I committee.

Navigating subtle meaning of words and feelings

Sitting around the table discussing the meaning of words, their power and how important it was to analyze the context of when and where such words were used was a favourite of my bonding times with my mother when I was growing up. She would share the content of her classes with me, while she was a university professor in my hometown in Ecuador.

Growing up with an acute awareness of the power and meaning of words turned me into a conscious communicator and from an early age, an assertive person. I also learned early on the real meaning of the words chosen by people when they were trying to assert power.

At the same time, that awareness made me shy to share what I really thought in many circumstances, fearing to hurt someone else’s feelings.

I remember being brought into the midst of a conflict between my high school friends to solve their misunderstandings; nothing that a little bit of context, word review and meaning, and acknowledgment of feelings would not solve.

Fast forward to my first newcomer/migrant experience and such knowledge had to be quickly put to use. When I would hear an offensive word directed to me or other racialized persons, I repeated to myself “Isabel, remember the context, and you are new to this context. Keep learning, keep calm, continue to be assertive and move on”; resilience was the end game.

It was not only about the words, but it was also the feeling of uneasiness to which I could not attach a word or meaning. I still had to learn so much about bias and discrimination, and in a different language; English.

Bringing that experience to the fundraising profession is another story. As a street fundraiser, while I studied in Madrid in the early 2000s, I thought I had rejection and bias figured out. When you do street fundraising, you know that rejection can be blunt, but add the layers of your skin, your accent and the context of sub-urban Madrid in my case. Hitting my targets was hard, but I did it! What other proof was needed that I could handle rejection?

That proof was not enough when in England after getting down to the final two candidates for that amazing entry-level position at the high-tech company or the management fundraising position at my dream NFP; over and over and over again, the feeling of uneasiness brought me back to square one and made me feel as though I did not belong.

Or the time when in a major donor steering meeting, as tasks and responsibilities were distributed to deploy the major giving strategy, the director lists them all including that I will be limited to clearing tables and washing dishes in a joking manner.

How about the awkward time spent in a networking event where I actively engaged with people, when I aimed to present myself as a strategic leader, accomplished professional and was looking to identify opportunities for collaboration, but instead could not get past explaining to others about my ‘background.’

It felt like there was little I could do to change those situations I would come across in those exchanges, but internally I was changing, and I was burning out.

It has taken many years for me to attach meaning to the words and feelings that bias and discrimination use to present themselves. And mostly it has been possible because I have opened up and found allies and spaces like the AFP Inclusion and Diversity fellowship where I have engaged with people open to discuss and embrace those uncomfortable feelings.

This fellowship has not only been a catalyst to further attach meaning to feelings and words, but an opportunity to also assess my moving and relative privilege, an exercise all of us should undertake as we navigate diverse communities and societies.

As a fundraising professional, I write and speak to build connections and empathy that call for action towards the causes I serve, but most importantly I communicate to move us closer to transformative change.

With this piece I hope as a newcomer to the fundraising profession or as a veteran in it, you felt connected, especially if you have gone through similar life experiences. Please speak up and share them safely; your story can change others’ stories and help them avoid burn-out.

If my experience seems ‘alien’ to you, but still you believe you are and can be an ally for inclusion, I invite you to exercise respectful curiosity and to step into the uncomfortable zone to explore the relativity of privilege.

I cannot promise you will find all the answers to your curiosity, but you will move out of fear towards a sacred space of acknowledgement of your own and others’ dignity. And along the way, you will make the fundraising profession a safer space where all of us who journey through it can belong.

AFP Fellowship Mentorship Experience

I joined the 2018 AFP Fellowship program to increase my knowledge in fundraising and for the mentorship opportunity. I was fortunate to be mentored by Joan Blight, who has over 30 years of experience. Over the past 7 months, Joan and I met several times and I am grateful for her guidance. We decided to share our mentorship experience by answering the questions below.

What was the reason you agreed to participate as a mentee/mentor for the 2018 AFP Fellowship?

Sharon: For me, the mentorship was the most appealing part of the program for my professional development. I was excited to learn that Joan Blight would be my mentor. She is a well respected professional/fundraiser/leader and has the strategic and corporate experience that I hoped to learn.

Joan: I seek to learn more about Indigenous culture and what we can learn from one another about philanthropy. The Indigenous population is under represented in the field of fund development, so I welcomed the opportunity to mentor Sharon, the only Indigenous fellow in this program.

What has the experience taught you as a mentee/mentor?

Sharon: Through this positive mentorship experience I learned how valuable good governance is for organizations in achieving their fundraising goals. A good example of this, is having the board and leadership clearly committed and engaged. With Joan’s wealth of knowledge and insight, I felt that I could have used many more months to spend time learning from her.

Joan: There is a real difference between mentoring and directing. Sometimes it is a very fine line. If a suggestion I offered was not accepted, I learned to leave it alone.

How can diversity and inclusion be encouraged in the sector?

Sharon: I believe we can learn so much by including diverse perspectives and voices into the work of the philanthropic sector. Mentorship is an important way in developing valuable connections. In this fellowship, I have met many talented fellows who are working for the advancement of diversity and inclusion. I would like to see the more opportunities for mentorship and leadership development.

Joan: I think we need to listen and learn from Indigenous people and new Canadians. Are they interested in this sector? What is their passion? Are Indigenous individuals interested in working in Indigenous-led organizations? non-Indigenous-led organizations? What about new Canadians? What is important to them in the workplace?

Ways of encouraging diversity and inclusion:

  • through formalized means such as presentations to organizations’ senior management and engaging human resource personnel
  • through “shared learning” presentations to professional associations such as AFP
  • through mentorship opportunities such as this one
  • through networking with colleagues

Sharon Redsky is First Nation member of Shoal Lake #40 and development coordinator with Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services.

Respectful Curiosity

One of the most beautiful approaches to conflict resolution that I have heard recently came from a podcast that I listened to, where the host, Whitney Johnson, interviewed Dr. Donna Hicks on the topic of disruption. (https://whitneyjohnson.com/donna-hicks/).

In this exchange, Dr. Hicks shared stories of her experience exploring the concept of how at the core of major conflicts lay a deep sense of lost dignity. Dr. Hicks is a Harvard professor and has studied and led mediation initiatives for some of the most relevant modern strife and wars around the world in the past decades and uses these experiences particularly around recognition and protection of all parties’ dignity to build cultures of trust in organizations today.

This expert talked about the acknowledgment of lost dignity as a first step to build trust towards peace and reconciliation and how ‘we are all guardians of dignity, and we owe it to ourselves, others, and the greater good to educate ourselves in the inherent value and worth of everyone around us in order to flourish.’

During my reflection on the idea of lost dignity, I was also reading and exploring the concept of ‘respectful curiosity’, a phrase that I coined in a conversation with a colleague around the topic of how diverse communities bear a high burden when speaking out to discrimination and injustice. How they seem to be penalized and how important it was that people sitting on the fence of understanding these issues – including me on many occasions – should exercise the practice of ‘respectful curiosity.’

I am still developing this concept but as I listened to that podcast, the idea of honouring my own dignity and that of others, the fullness of what I feel ‘respectful’ meant finally came into place.

In the social profit sector, we all seek to redress injustices, undo systemic wrongs and ultimately honour the dignity of those who we serve.

My journey to understanding the deep-rooted displays of racial, gender and socioeconomic injustices in the Canadian context has just started, and the only way I felt I could begin to learn has been through curiosity.

Yes, reading, listening to podcasts and lectures can help but, how can you feel moved to act and speak up and stand up to injustice when you witness it if you have not connected with people with those lived experiences?

And how can we connect with others when our structures seem so homogenous that the systems we are immersed in, are not conducive to connect with others with diverse lived experiences. There is so much that individuals can, and would do, for example setting up collaborative teams that reflect the diversity of participants to tackle organizational challenges, if this is an individual driving change in one department without structural support and acknowledgement in the ample sphere of the organization this practice will not be permanent. Therefore it is paramount that structures shift to build spaces for diverse connections.

Diversity, inclusion and access to power in our sector will require individual actions and systemic transformation. So as an individual I call you to move to a space of no fear through respectful curiosity and to step up your actions for inclusion because you have the power to change the system.

So be curious and ask the tough questions. What can we do to make our team diverse?. How can we bring in our beneficiaries into our decision-making process and truly represent them?. Do managers/leaders have the skills to manage talent that is unlike them? Why is this person not at this table? How can we all learn about addressing and including other’s life experiences without judgement? What did we learn from a diversity and inclusion initiative that died out?

Through this questioning, you will be bearing the burden with your colleagues from small minorities and as you do this, you will not only be guarding their dignity but yours too.

Truth and Reconciliation and Philanthropy, AFP Inclusive Giving Fellow perspective

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada over a six year period heard testimony from over 6,000 Residential School Survivors from across Canada. In 2015, the Commission released their final reports and 94 calls to action. It is estimated that 150,000 Indigenous children attended the 80 residential schools in Canada. My mother as a young child was forcibly removed from her community and placed in residential school until she was 16. She passed at the age of 49 and I know that she had never fully recovered from her experiences of residential school. Although my family has been directly impacted by the legacy of residential school, we are still strong and resilient. I see this strength and resiliency in Indigenous communities all across Canada.


Left to right: Ry Moran, NCTR Director, Sharon Redsky, AFP Inclusive Giving Fellow, Joan Blight, Strategic Philanthropy and Laver Simard, NCTR Project Manager.


I do believe that the truth about Canada’s history with Indigenous people is important to share and we all have a role in reconciliation, including the philanthropic sector. As stated in the Honouring the Truth Final report, that reconciliation must inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to transform Canadian society so that our children and grandchildren can live together in dignity, peace, and prosperity on these lands we now share.

As an AFP Inclusive Giving Fellow, my goal is to encourage the philanthropic sector to support Truth and Reconciliation calls to action and build a better future for the generations to come. I am encouraged by other AFP fellow members, who have shared with me what their organizations are doing to respond to the TRC’s calls to action.

Wondering what you can do, here are a few suggestions. Be an ally with Indigenous people in addressing inequalities and create spaces for voices to be heard, provide resources or help fundraise for Indigenous led initiatives, and promote the work of Indigenous agencies. Another other way to support the Truth and Reconciliation is to financially support the National Truth and Reconciliation Centre, which was created to preserve the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy. Not just for a few years, but forever.

I had the pleasure to visit the NTRC, along with my AFP mentor Joan Blight. We met with Ry Moran, Director and Laver Simard, Project Manager. I learned so much about rich history, the sacred reasonability to hold onto the truth and their vision the future. As I travel this journey, I will continue to learn and be inspired by spirit and intent of the Truth and Reconciliation.

Sharon Redsky is AFP Inclusive Giving Fellow and development coordinator with Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services.


Trillium Foundation’s CEO, Andrea Cohen Barrack inspires Fellows on diversity issues, leadership, tenacity

“Interrupt the status quo!”

Those are the words of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s (OTF) CEO Andrea Cohen Barrack, that she shared at the Summer Social for the Fellows of the Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship. Held at William’s Landing in downtown Toronto, the event featured Cohen Barrack’s insights into leadership, growth and how tenacity helped her persevere through the many obstacles she faced along the way.

Cohen Barrack came to OTF after a lengthy and successful career in community healthcare, most recently as CEO of Unison Health and Community Services. A transformative leader, she has a demonstrated history of both developing strategies that promise positive change, and leading others to deliver on those promises. Cohen Barrack is also a long-time volunteer, serving as Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region, Advisory Board member for the Centre for Effective Philanthropy and Chair of the Dean’s Council for the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.

She captivated and connected with a room of eager Fellows and Mentors with her candor. This November, the Fellows will be graduating at AFP’s Congress.Cohen Barrack’s words complimented the development tools we have gained within the fellowship, and well prepared us for the road ahead. Fellows nodded with agreement as she addressed real issues in the workplace and her personal like that have served as springboards for her success, including her experience as a teenage mom, and her honest comments on resolve and the importance of determination.


Tenacity and Diversity

The notable quote of the night for me was to “break the box ‘they’ put you in.” Cohen Barrack credits her success to her determination and persistence, even when it feels uncomfortable. She spoke about her candor-although contrary to popular belief – and how it helped her ask for what she wanted. She kept us laughing as she shared her stories of resolve. Her advice? “Don’t wait for something to come to you. Understand your value proposition, communicate and deliver on it. Your value proposition is what makes you unique.”

The central idea of leadership is to be able to understand other people’s experiences. Cohen Barrack spoke about how major societal changes have expanded our dynamic society and the need to recognize the role of diversity in this change. “I hope the next generation of leaders will not have the need to talk about diversity,” she said.

She credits and faults both women and men for mentoring and hurting her as a professional. She noted that historically women would not ask for promotions because of various barriers, but at the same time, she stressed that women need to take risks and put themselves out there.


The Fellowship provides a valuable mentorship catered to each Fellow’s needs assessment. Cohen Barrack spoke how finding the right fit is critical to a great mentorship. “Find [a mentor] who knows you and sees how you work,” she said. “They should push you and see you as you.”

What keeps her going?

Positive disposition, serendipity and timing.

Cohen Barrack doesn’t like structured plans or 10-year goals. Instead she relies on the fundamentals of having vision and passion. In doing so, she has been fortunate with great serendipity. “The opportunities that will come your way can be fluid and organic,” she said. “Consider the future instead of immediacy, that way you can adapt to changes in your life and gain leadership growth. Serendipity will happen for all of you, time and time again.”

Here is a roundup of the best advice Fellows received about networking:

  • Talk to everyone!
  • Never turn down an opportunity to network. You can turn it into a social activity.
  • People love talking about themselves, so don’t be shy!
  • Don’t try to meet everyone at a networking event, have meaningful connections. Remember it is quality, not quantity.
  • Ask questions. Listen more than you talk.
  • Take pictures with people if they’re willing. It will help you remember their names and give you a reason to contact them again.
  • Have fun and smile. Everyone wants to be around people who make them feel good.

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20: 2015 – 2016 Fellowship Lessons Learned

Mentoring & Networking

Take the Lead

  • It can be a bit nerve-wracking to take an active role in communicating with your mentor, but it is important to know that the onus is on the Fellow to reach out. This relationship will be what you make it! Mentors are not only great resources, they are here to support you as you navigate through your career into leadership roles. It is a great exercise in building relationships, and an opportunity to share and learn from the experiences of others in the field.

Time Management & Administration


  • Of course you want to take advantage of it all. There are so many unique opportunities that will come your way and with amazing people, but you cannot possibly do them all. You have a life and probably a job on top of this – be patient with yourself. Sometimes you will have to say no.
  • On the flip-side, sometimes you have to make time. The culture of “busy” is all around us. Somewhere it has been said “busy” is the new “nice”. Here’s the truth: we’re all busy. We’re driven working professionals who want to become leaders in our industry. The Fellowship program is intensive, it is a lot of work, but it is work that will expand your mind, and maybe even your soul.
  • The solution? Plan ahead! Pick a few events to go to per quarter and plan your schedule accordingly. You could use the Learning Contract as a tool for planning ahead. Leave some room for improvisation.

Plan for the Unplanned

“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” – Oscar Wilde

  • Give yourself, what we in project management call a buffer. Buffers are extra time you give yourself to complete things so that your deadline can be met. So push that deadline 2 weeks ahead, and BAM! You’ve got a 2 week buffer!
  • You never know what is going to happen in life, so sometimes you’ll just have to go with the flow… but you can have contingencies in place to help make all the moving parts more manageable. Always communicate changes to your mentor and the program supervisor, keeping them up-to-date.
  • Break it up! Building on the idea of having a contingency plan, if you break up the Fellowship into monthly activity lists (including your project), then not only will it seem less daunting, but it will also allow you the flexibility to adapt with new learnings and life events that come up without getting in the way of you completing the program. The project deadline creeps up quite ferociously!
    • Start your research early.
    • Create an outline and break it up, so you’re doing a little bit at a time.

Track Everything!

  • You will have to do this at the end of the program anyways, so you might as well do it as you go along. Again, the Learning Contract is a great tool to use for your tracking, especially as you will have to submit it at the end of the program.
  • Track:
    • When you meet your mentor (exact dates)
    • Save your certificates of completion for courses such as the Fundamentals of Fundraising
    • What webinars you attend
    • Your contributions to information exchange
    • Take photos of your Facebook/Twitter comments and feeds

Perspective & Transformation

Keep an Open Mind

  • Diversity and inclusion are buzz words across every industry at the moment, and yet they carry different meanings and weights for different people. Throughout this Fellowship, what you think you know may be challenged. Be open to being part of a much larger dialogue. Be open to uncomfortable conversations and fresh perspectives. It may sound a little hokey, but the process may help you reach new understandings and open you to different experiences.

Two Sides of the Same Coin: Exploring the Relationship Between Mentors and Mentees

After a little bit of back and forth on topic ideas for our blog post collaboration, we quickly settled on tackling a familiar subject, networking and professional development for young professional fundraisers in the nonprofit sector, looking specifically at mentorships for diverse fundraisers. Likely it’s a topic you’ve been inundated with from the literally thousands of blogs, webinars, tweets, presentations, what-have-you-nots, but we hope to provide some new insights from our interviews with both mentors and mentees.

Why Seek a Mentor?

From our first conference (AFP Congress) which we attended as students of the Humber Fundraising Program, the concept of networking was drilled into our psyches. Networking is essential to succeeding in the field. It can sound like a dirty word, but to us, it is about making connections to share with and to learn from, especially when the relationship takes the form of a mentorship. As we continue to grow and learn in the field, instructors, bosses and colleagues have become wonderful mentors who have provided us with invaluable advice and support.

This relationship can expand your technical skills and knowledge as a fundraiser, help you make connections, but most importantly, teach lessons learned from experience. A mentor can help provide guidance, from their own personal learnings and insights that prove indispensable. Though it is important to remember that this is a mutual relationship, and learning is a two-way street. We are advocates of mentor-mentee relationships where both parties are open and willing to share, and exchange and learn to help strengthen our field.

It can be quite intimidating, but the best that could happen is anything, and everything. The lessons, connections and opportunities could be life-changing.

A Mentee’s Point of View

We reached out to young professionals with questions on their thoughts on mentor relationships, which all our mentees felt were extremely important to their careers. Our mentees also highlighted that this relationship requires both parties to be equally committed. The cornerstone of a successful mentorship includes respect, commitment, dedication, and communication. When searching for potential mentors, besides looking for the right career experience, it could be beneficial to seek mentors who have similar life experiences. As one fundraiser explained “I am interested in knowing the steps and work required to succeed in non-profit for a young ethnic female. I am also interested in learning from a mentor on how to balance a young family and career and be successful at both.”

We will say it again, a mentorship is a mutual relationship for the benefit of both parties. It is through sharing and exchanging knowledge and experiences that we as mentees can unconsciously transform into mentors.

Frankie: I couldn’t agree more with the response from our survey answers. During the Humber Program, I chose my internship organization solely because the Senior Development Officer was also a Chinese male fundraiser like myself. As a new fundraiser, having a mentor who is both seasoned and someone who can understand my experiences as a male fundraiser of colour in the sector made me realize that my “double minority” is not a weakness but something I can use to my advantage. I would also like to stress that since a mentorship is a partnership, my mentor and I shared experiences and knowledge during and beyond my time with that organization.

Mimosa: Mentorship has enriched my life beyond my career. I have had the opportunity to learn from so many different people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. The lessons have proved to be so important as I navigate through my own career. While I am an advocate for trying new things, and making your own mistakes, it is so helpful to have an understanding of what has worked or not worked for others in the same sector. Best practices are a standard I hope to live my life by, and mentorship is process by which I can gather knowledge from the very best in our field.

A Mentor’s Point of View

We reached out to senior fundraisers to ask questions about mentoring from their perspectives. On the topic of emerging trends with respect to young professionals in the sector, one mentor highlighted a few to note:

  • An increasing number of young fundraisers are taking professional education courses or programs before entering the field. As a result, there is a shift as fundraising is becoming an intentional career path, and as a result we are seeing an influx of formally educated employees.
  • An increasing number of young professionals are seeking roles where mentorship and professional development are offered to help advance their careers.

The latter is echoed in responses from our mentees, where it was noted that high turnover in organizations was often as a result of staff not feeling valued or feeling that there was any opportunity to grow or continue to learn.

On the importance of mentorship, one mentor brought up the fact that young professionals entering the field will someday become future colleagues and leaders. For the growth of the sector, from their perspective, it is a duty to provide young professionals with the tools to succeed.

On the subject of approaching a mentor, the advice is to reach out to learn and connect, not to look for a job. Be candid, but professional. Mentors can provide insights to help find the balance between working in a toxic environment, to jumping from gig to gig, to tips about what questions to ask during your interview, and finding the right fit.

Qualities mentors are looking for in mentees include a “genuine willingness to be open to feedback and change. If they are coming in with a perspective of entitlement, then it makes it difficult to support career growth.” In addition, humility, passion, creativity and a demonstration of both courage and vulnerability are important qualities. In addition the “courage to do the things that need to be done early in your career to launch your path forward, like working hard, authentic networking, and challenging yourself to always be learning are critical to success. And the willingness to be vulnerable, to admit that you don’t know everything, that you will need to seek support from others, and to own up when mistakes are made.”

Mimosa: For me, it is important to remember that mentorship is a two-way street, and to get the best out of the experience, it is okay to be selective about who you choose to establish this relationship with (between either party). Sharing knowledge, experiences, ideas, lessons and opinions can be very personal. I think whichever side of the coin you’re on, trust is essential. Trust can be built, but it comes from an openness that is innate, and creates the conditions necessary to allow for vulnerability and courage, as one of our mentors mentioned.


Mentorship for Fundraisers of Diverse Backgrounds

In his blog, Nonprofit with Balls, Vu Le mentions that he has occasionally received emails from other fundraisers of colour who feel isolated because there are so few of us. Although initiatives like the AFP Inclusive Giving Fellowship Program creates opportunities for fundraisers from different backgrounds to come together, there is much work to be done to create an inclusive field. As young professionals who identify as “diverse”, trying to find mentors that have successful careers and also share our similar experiences can be difficult. It is important for the sector to invest in the growth of fundraisers from diverse backgrounds, as it represents the makeup of our nation and is instrumental to the success of nonprofits who are looking to engage with and fundraise in various communities.

As one of our mentors noted, fundraising as a sector does not adequately reflect the diversity found within the Greater Toronto Area, especially when looking at the leadership. It can be intimidating to work towards growing in a field where you do not see yourself represented. We need to redefine who a fundraiser is and broaden the recruitment process.

Frankie: In the past few years, I continued to be involved with the Humber Fundraising Program Alumni Group as I felt it was my duty to give back to the program. Although I don’t consider myself a mentor, I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of ethnically Chinese Humber students from the program. I have noticed that the issues our mentor and Vu have brought up, are especially prevalent in the Chinese fundraising community. Chinese fundraisers who have grown accustomed to the professional fundraising landscape generally have an easier time finding employment and mentors compared to fundraisers who are new immigrants or do not have as much experience working in the sector. Therefore, it is so important for the sector to invest in potential mentors who understand the fundraising landscape of both the mainstream and their own diverse communities and act as bridges for young fundraisers to grow.

Le, Vu. “Why individual donations strategies often do not work for communities of color.” Nonprofit With Balls.

Tips for Fellows to get the most out of the Mentorship Relationship

Mentorship can have many definitions and interpretations. A commonly accepted definition of mentorship is the personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.

The mentoring process seeks to develop an individual as a whole, through a learning relationship that integrates and balances all aspects of an individual into the development process. The learning process is typically driven by the mentee’s development goals and should be agreed upon mutually by both mentor and mentee at the beginning of the relationship.

Since there are many ways to engage in a mentorship relationship, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your mentorship relationship right from the start:

Manage Expectations

Mentors and mentees often enter the relationship with expectations of each other that may be hidden and not discussed. Here are some helpful hints to create openness and prevent disappointment:

  • Take the time to discuss how you will set up meetings and the best ways to communicate with each other.
  • Share your goals and what you would like to learn from each other.
  • Ensure your expectations for the relationship are clearly outlined and communicated.
  • Set up a schedule to meet, and keep to your schedule. Make a plan that meets your needs. There will be times when an agenda is useful and other times when a more relaxed approach works better.
  • On-line and over-the-phone relationships need special care. Make an effort to meet in person or by Skype.

Come Prepared

As a mentee you are expected to actively engage in the learning relationship by bringing your experiences, questions, surprises, and challenges for exploration, discussion, and learning. Here are some tips to help you prepare for, and best engage in this new relationship:

  • Bring your questions about careers and the workplace to explore with your mentor;
  • Maintain respectful behaviour and communications at all times;
  • Be patient with the process and maintain a healthy sense of humour;
  • Be open to feedback from your mentor;
  • Initiate conversations by bringing forth thoughtful questions to explore; and
  • Create a workplan, or an outline of topics, or areas you would like to work on with your mentor.

Be Open

Take the time to get to know each other, and build a solid foundation for your relationship. This can be done by sharing personal backgrounds and histories, and anecdotes about your lives. It can feel daunting to build a very personal relationship with your new mentor when no prior history exists. Remember to be open to the experience, and that communication is key to every meaningful relationship.

Be Grateful

Perhaps most importantly, remember to enjoy this mentorship experience. Mentorship has the power to change lives, and this relationship could be an incredibly valuable experience for you. Remember to let your mentor know that you appreciate them taking the time to support you in your journey and don’t be afraid to say thank you!