Helping Hands: Why You Should Be a Nonprofit Mentor

When you were starting your nonprofit or starting on your journey in the nonprofit world, you probably had someone you could rely on for advice and a boost every now and then. And even if you didn’t have a specific mentor or group of people you could call upon, you probably wish that you did.

You’ve heard about the perks of having a mentor before. But we’re here to tell you (as a nonprofit professional) why you should be out in the community mentoring others. Mentoring provides a helping hand to people who are trying to find their footing in the nonprofit world. That’s why we’re here to tell you why you should mentor, how to find a mentee and how to be the best mentor you can be.

The Perks of Being a Mentor

Still on the fence about being a mentor? We understand that your time is precious. You spend every hour you have fundraising, figuring out your next big event or getting ready for your next big advertising push (to name a few). How can you possibly fit in any extra time mentoring others involved in the nonprofit industry?

Think of it as an extension of your work with your nonprofit. Your NPO is already focused on making the world a better place, but why should you only use the expertise and wisdom you’ve acquired through your work? 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. By imparting the lessons you’ve learned through your work, you’re helping other nonprofits be more effective and speed up the learning curve.

Mentoring also helps you build your professional contacts. In the nonprofit world (especially fundraising) you can never know too many people. And while it isn’t the primarily purpose or even benefit, mentoring another nonprofit professional opens up a new realm of connections and people who could assist you in your fundraising and other aspect of running your nonprofit.

Are You Looking? Here’s How to Find a Mentor

Don’t feel the pressure to go out and find a mentor right now. Start by getting out into the community and seeing who else is out there. Join a professional organization. Attend nonprofit association meetings.

Most successful mentoring relationships cannot be forced. It is something that happens because one party has an interest in another and their well-being and success. So it might take awhile to find a person you connect with as a mentor, but every person you talk to, whether informally or through a partnership, benefits and can help spark the change that revolutionizes your community.

How to Be The Most Impactful (and Awesome) Mentor

Now that you’ve found a young professional who has a genuine interesting in the nonprofit sector, how do you go about being a great mentor? Here’s the great part: there is no wrong way to provide mentoring to a young nonprofiteer. Every mentor/mentee relationship is different and unique. Even if you don’t think you can offer a ton of insightful opinions about how to run a nonprofit, you can offer support. Sometimes that’s all the person really needs. They want to know how you got to be where you are, and this should be a collaboration rather than a lecture series.

How you go about this relationship depends on what the mentee wants and needs. The key thing is to make it a regular part of your schedule. Plan on meeting up weekly, or at minimum once a month, to check-in and see how the mentee is doing. Find out what issues they face and how you can work to overcome them. These meetings shouldn’t just be a complaining session, as you should also celebrate the mentee’s successes and professional development.


Remember, being a mentor can be a rewarding experience for you AND the mentee. It’s an opportunity to give back to your community and develop the next generation of nonprofit leadership. And eventually, the mentorship could develop into a partnership. But you’ll only get to that point if you get out and start mentoring.


Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

August 22, 2014

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