Why Chemistry Is The First Step To A Mentorship Made In Heaven

What can the leader of a small, London-based nonprofit devoted to adults with disabilities learn from a finance executive at one of the fastest growing software companies in the world ? A lot!


A GlobalGiving nonprofit mentorship program introduced Bill Feeney, the executive director of Pursuing Independent Paths (PIP), to JL Moura, a senior vice president of finance at Salesforce. Through the program, Bill met with Moura once a month for mentorship—the pairing was one of 17 launched between charity and Salesforce staff in 2015.

A mentor from the corporate sector can provide an opportunity to develop skills and build organizational capacity to employees of small nonprofits with limited resources. But success requires effort.

Read Bill’s top four tips for making the most of your nonprofit mentorship:

1. Chemistry is everything.

Chemistry is extremely important to ensure a positive and inspiring mentor/mentee relationship. There needs to be the right blend of personalities to ensure a good working relationship and a safe space in which to work through issues. If the chemistry doesn’t feel right, start again.

2. It takes time to establish a relationship.

Participating in the strategic mentoring program has been incredibly useful and rewarding both in developing professional skills, but also in helping me to build PIP’s organizational capacity. The benefits derived through participating have more than compensated for the time taken to establish an effective working relationship. It is important for both the mentor and the mentee to devote time to establish the relationship and build trust.

3. Don’t expect answers.

Mentors are there to provide you with an ear to listen and give an objective viewpoint. They do not have organizational or sector knowledge so don’t expect them to provide all the answers. JL has provided some many useful insights into how I should tackle particular issues and that has been extremely enlightening.

4. Pre-plan and follow up on your sessions.

It might sound obvious, but it is good practice to pre-plan your mentoring sessions. I usually go into the session either with a new issue to discuss or I pick up on the progress and development of an issue previously touched upon. Before the meeting, I’ll send JL an email with a suggested agenda prior to the meeting so he has time to reflect and think about the topic. Then, we both email each other thanking the other one for their time and also sharing reflections from the session.

To express interest in being mentored or being a mentor, please email Celeste Hesketh, UK Skilled Volunteering Manager at GlobalGiving, at chesketh@globalgiving.org.

Featured Photo: PIP students practice their literacy skills in the sand. Photo by PIP.
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