Hear what other people say about us
Hear what other people say about us
It is very useful to take time to step back from the operational work, to speak to someone outside the organisation, particularly if, like me, you are new to the role. Not only have the meetings with my mentor been useful, but I also looked forward to them: they always left me feeling more positive and reassured.
It was useful to be able to speak to a mentor who has experience of working with a number of charities. Our meetings were an opportunity for me to use my mentor as a sounding board for ideas and thoughts that I had. The meetings gave me the confidence to try new ways of working with trustees and helped me to get their buy-in and increase their involvement with the charity. It was a great opportunity to benefit from the experience and knowledge of others who are delivering in the charitable sector.
We all need challenging sometimes. Charity CEO’s don’t have shareholders to answer to or shareholder value to create. Trustees can perform this role but, as a trusted outsider, a charity mentor can help by enabling you to rise to these challenges in your own way and enable you to focus on what is important. 3-6 months with a Charity Mentor is the perfect antidote for a stressed-out over-burdened Charity CEO.
Faced with an unprecedented lockdown and a difficult funding situation, we wanted to review our strategy as a charity and came to Charity Mentors for advice. Our mentor was able to provide a fresh new perspective on our mission and gave us excellent insights we had not considered. His experience helped us understand both how to develop a new strategy and what to think about in the process.
These issues had been around for some time and there was every likelihood that they would remain unresolved without some external intervention or assistance. Our mentor was very helpful, in (i) persuading trustees to take a step back so as to consider some key fundamentals and then (ii) in taking them through an initial and outline planning process. We were very satisfied with the service we received. Thank you!
The opportunity to discuss the work of our charity with someone outside the organisation but with relevant experience and understanding was a great help with prioritising and preparing an achievable development strategy. Our mentor helped us develop a clear plan and focus on the areas that were important in a coherent way. We now know what we need to achieve and how we may do this. Before we had ideas but nobody to bring them all together and highlight the priorities for our vision. The service was so personalised to our needs – I think this was what helped us the most. Some courses, advice are more generalist. I found it so helpful to have that tailored 1:1 support.
Working with my mentor has really helped me navigate through a complex set of situations and identify the right way forward. As my mentor put it when we first met, I knew what I needed to do but I just couldn’t see it! They helped me make sense of it and we have now undertaken our first strategy development day, have launched our new website and produced an annual report that highlights fundraising and projects supported explicitly for the first time. We are well on our way up the winding path.
I would whole-heartedly recommend Charity Mentors. It has been a great support, offering tailored mentoring to enable reflection and helping me to have a clearer focus of my role within the organisation: how best to prioritise my time and effort to support the charity; being clear about the role of Chair of Trustees and how that differs from the CEO’s roles and responsibilities; considering the current governance arrangements and support for the CEO; and, considering risks and opportunities for the charity.
Working with a Charity Mentor gives people in key roles within an organisation the opportunity to gain perspective and support. It provides a chance to identify particular challenges and opportunities to take the organisation forward in a sustainable way. I do not underestimate the value of having my mentor both in terms of speaking the ideas we had identified and making them more coherent. Having dates to work towards and reporting back gave me good motivation to seek help where I needed it and get on with the identified tasks. This helped to formulate a timeline and prioritise tasks. Having excellent feedback of meetings we had were a good reference point and checklist.
Charity Mentors offered me a very valuable opportunity to have access to a highly experienced expert in her field. I really appreciated her generous giving of her time and knowledge and her very professional approach. An opportunity to work with a Charity Mentor supports leaders who are often in challenging and sometimes lonely roles to have a sounding board about the issues that matter most to them and their organisations. This in turn can help the perspective of the leaders and the stability and sustainability of the whole organisation.
You would have to be a little bit crazy, as the leader of a small charity, not to want to take advantage of the free input of someone with this level of experience and skill. Even if your charity is working brilliantly, a fresh pair of eyes might help you see what you have missed. All leaders need to be open to learning and growth; this will benefit both your charity and you as a leader. If you’re too busy to consider it, you need it even more!
As the sole person running the project, as well as being in full-time paid employment, I felt limited and unable to be creative in developing the project as I would like to do due to time constraints. I needed to have regular, constructive conversation with someone objective to offer some constructive feedback on how we have done so far. I also needed support in understanding how we can be more financially sustainable and move on from relying solely on grants.
Before working with my mentor, I often felt that we lacked momentum and that the same issues kept coming up with no sustained strategy for dealing with them. The Project is constantly evolving, and while some of the major issues have not been entirely resolved, I feel that we now have a better sense of direction. I would particularly emphasise the opportunity mentoring gives to discuss your aims and objectives in a thoroughly exploratory way, and how much confidence it gives you to have someone reflect back to you what you have actually achieved.
I would definitely recommend Charity Mentors. Working with a Charity Mentor will give you the opportunity to challenge your own ideas and find the best way forward as a result, and give you an external perspective from someone with expertise, and who really cares about your project.
My mentor had tremendous experience in the charitable sector and a very good knowledge of my sector. However, most of all, it was his coaching experience, skilful questions and his encouraging and sometimes challenging manner that drew out some great new ideas and ways of looking at things. We now have wider horizons and some lovely big ambitions that are both inspiring and possible!
It was really helpful to step back and get independent support to reflect and plan. My mentor used his mentoring skills to help bring clarity to my thinking and his previous experience of being a CEO as well as chair of trustees was very helpful. He helped me see the necessity of prioritising to reduce/avoid being overwhelmed and I am now being much more boundaried in my approach to the work.
Working with Charity Mentors has enabled a step change in how we approach our charity. With fresh perspective and broad experience the mentor has supported us in recognising our value in the local community and how we can best articulate it to our partners, parents and individuals we support.
The mentors approach was careful, supportive and forward thinking and enabled me to take a step back and see a bigger picture and in turn given me more clarity about our Charity direction. In addition I feel more empowered and confident in driving the Charity forward.
I’ve learnt a whole lot about managing an organisation in the past 6 months, and charity mentor meetings have been a vital space to discuss problems and raise ideas and opinions in a “safe space” away from other Co-Directors – allowed me to develop concrete proposals to bring to the Management Team meetings. Working with charity mentors has also helped evolve my thinking around making P&P a more sustainable organisation i.e. having the people and money to deliver charitable aims, what supports our “core job”.
Charity Mentors are able to provide a sounding board, provide feedback, give you the confidence to ensure that your organisation can be sustainable and financially viable. They are friendly with the ability to share their skills with you in such a way that becomes second nature.
Having a mentor allows you time to think, develop and lead with confidence. I wanted to regain focus in my role and to plan the future strategically at a time when the voluntary sector is under considerable strain. Working with a Charity Mentor has supported me in achieving these things and I feel more in control (although time management is a work in progress!).
Giving leaders the opportunity to take the space and time to reflect in a safe and confidential environment is an invaluable investment of time. It enabled me to look at the ‘big picture’ of our work as well as the detail. Perhaps, more important to me, was the opportunity to think deeply about personal attributes that were holding me back both in terms of professional relationships but also in making effective decisions. There are several conversations professionally that I would not have had without the mentoring, and these conversations have taken me further in my understanding of both what I and the organisation needs.
No matter how good you are at your job, or how well you know your organisation, there sometimes comes a point when you can’t think your way out of a difficulty. Charity Mentors can provide someone wise and supportive to help you tap into your own resources – your own experience, values and critical ability, to find solutions that you could not find alone.
Charity Mentors has enabled me to reflect on the very purpose One-Eighty was set up, and think about the motivations and aims we wanted to achieve in addition to acknowledging how far we have come in a short period of time. That has supported me, as the CEO, to be re-fuelled with enthusiasm and motivation to inspire my growing team in order to achieve our goals and ultimately change the lives of more young people and families we work with through our services. Having a Charity Mentor is a great way to help you to re-focus on the priorities of your organisation, and help you to plan and organise your ambitions for your organisation in an inspirational and structured way from a perspective of someone who has experience and the understanding of a growing organisation.
Most CEOs recognise the need/value of developing and reviewing such things as their organisation’s strategic plan but often struggle to find the time. Charity Mentors provides the catalyst, expertise and the opportunity to put specific time aside for this important activity. I found the whole process to be time well spent.
Charity Mentors provides a combination of expertise that can provide ‘ the answer’ to issues experienced and also a sounding board for ideas, issues, problems. A safe environment away from the staff and clients to be able to explore things in a different way. My mentor was excellent. His expert and thoughtful approach brought clarity to our discussions and enabled us to focus on what was important.
I was feeling a little swamped! I had so many competing priorities on my time that I was struggling to feel equally confident with all of the responsibilities of my role. I have found it really helpful to have a mentor to work through this issue. We are only at the beginning of a journey of change in the organisation, and his input and guidance was incredibly helpful. A Charity Mentor can help you to develop new ways of thinking about your organisation and your role within it, empowering you to feel more confident and focused in your approach.
Charity mentors offered invaluable support to our organisation. Question: Would you recommend this service to another organisation? Answer: “Absolutely!”
We had ideas on how we needed / wanted to change and adapt. Our mentor came in with ‘no baggage’ and as such was able to give an unbiased, independent review of our plans. We would not have been confident enough to make all the changes that were necessary without this. Professional, independent support from a suitably qualified and knowledgeable person.
I entered the mentoring process slightly hesitantly as it seemed it would be difficult to find time when my workload was already so overloaded. But in reality this enforced pause from ‘daily tasks’ has allowed me to look constructively, with the aid of a critical friend, at our organisation’s medium and long term vision. Reaching a good strategy, with the aid of the mentor, now allows me to focus my time better, and gives something concrete to work towards. A definite win.
Charity Mentor gives an opportunity, in a confidential setting, to explore issues and challenges, strengths and issues for you personally and for your charity with a sympathetic and knowledgeable person who won’t solve the issues for you but enable you to take an essential step back to review and refresh. Gives a structure and a discipline to a process of defining priorities and focusing on these – and provides support and challenge through the process.
For someone new to a manager’s position, such as myself, it helps to focus and prioritise what has to be done. It is also good to know that Charity Mentors have mentors from all backgrounds who can advise on a variety of specific business issues. I like the fact that the dialogue between you and your mentor remains confidential. This enables frank and open discussion that may not be possible within the organisation.
Having the support of the mentor enabled me to look at things from the outside in. The issues still exist but with the process and advice provided by my mentor they are being addressed and will be resolved in time. It is a tremendous and valuable opportunity to receive support from someone neutral, someone with a wealth of experience and knowledge, whilst setting your own agenda and pace.
Carol Richards. Director, Dovecote Centre
Charity Mentors gives our charity leaders the vital opportunity they need – but rarely get – to step back and to reflect so that they can focus and prioritize more effectively. We are delighted to be working with Charity Mentors and with Oxfordshire Community Foundation in offering a charity triage service for not-for-profits who need urgent help.
I felt a little lost with the direction I was going in. The fact that my mentor had experience in a charity she set up herself helped her to understand my background and charity a lot more. Working with her gave me a space to think, goals to work towards and a new focus.
The benefits of working with Charity Mentors for me were: Gaining an ability to acknowledge my role as leader of the project with the permission of the wider group; Learning about my style of leadership and the areas I am not so good at, as well as those I am good at; Having a thoughtful experienced engaged ‘sounding board’ with whom to work through issues and challenges in a way that enabled me to take that on into the future; Feeling the value of our project and the size of our achievements.
We were a very new charity and while we were successful with some bids for project work, we weren’t sure how to get to the next level to grow and make our charity sustainable. Charity Mentors has helped us with a formula for growth and development.
The exercise was very beneficial to me personally for professional growth, and to the organisation as a whole. Setting up a 5-year business plan for the first time seemed like a very daunting task, but with the help of my mentor it seemed very achievable and it was even enjoyable to be able to spend time taking a look at the bigger picture. I used to find it hard to keep the overview when my head was buried in the day-to-day work of the organisation, and now I see the huge value in taking a step back to look at the organisation as a whole and how necessary this is to the future of Clear Sky.
It can be an isolating position sometimes, leading a small charity. It really helps to release yourself temporarily from the pressure to find immediate solutions, for the chance to view the bigger picture challenges from a different perspective, by being questioned in a supportive but challenging way. The insight of an interested outsider who has the right combination of skills and background, and is clearly committed to a thriving voluntary sector, can help you gain clarity and identify a clear plan of action.
I worked with my mentor on a number of issues and opportunities which involved us in discussions about funding, partnership working, governance and marketing. It helped having someone with significant experience in the not for profit sector. The sector has different issues compared with the commercial sector and my mentor understood the barriers and difficulties that we are facing both now and in the future. Having a mentor gave me more confidence about the decisions that I need to make and helped me to think about different ways of approaching situations as well as a clearer view of the way forward.
Charity Mentors provides a really important service in the charity sector. I was lucky to have their support when I took over as CEO of Climate Outreach. The guidance I received has proven invaluable, my mentor was an expert with vast experience of the sector and the specific challenges I faced. In a busy charity with few resources available for coaching or mentoring Charity Mentors provide a key ingredient in any not for profit looking for strategic support.
Working with a mentor allows time to reflect on where you are, what needs to be affirmed and what needs changing. The mentoring was very informal and yet very effective. Each time we met we found fresh ways of looking at and tackling issues as well as keeping hold of the original aim. I appreciated the listening ear and the way in which my mentor asked the right questions and allowed me to think aloud.
I wanted the opportunity to test my thinking outside of the organisation. We required a new strategic income generation focus and to be able to respond to changes in the sector creatively and innovatively. For me it was about talking to someone who filled a gap in my area of knowledge or experience. As a business person with charity experience my mentor allowed me to check my thinking and look for solutions. It was a very positive experience. The mentoring enabled creative and positive time to step back, think and test important decisions. Non-judgemental but challenging support.
Fantastic service, quick and professional, thank you so much. Being able to speak with someone who had faced similar issues was one of the main reasons why the mentoring was so successful. The other factor was that they knew how to coach and mentor, really made me think rather than providing solutions. It was also really helpful to have the support of someone external to the organization and have a refreshing perspective on the challenges you face.
We wanted to talk through long term development plans and create better awareness of our charity in the Witney area (we’re new in Oxfordshire). It has been hugely beneficial to be able to talk openly about plans for the future. As a small charity we are always thinking of the ‘here and now’ and so it was good to look at the bigger picture and identify challenges ahead. We now feel more secure in our focus for the future and have a plan for better awareness and communication.
It’s a great chance to look up from your day-to-day job and think about leadership and long term direction. There’s never going to be a moment when you’ve got time to do this, so having a set of meetings gives you motivation and MAKES you look up to see what’s coming and how you can direct the organisation. If you don’t do this, months and years go by and you’ll still be waiting to write that business plan or diversify your services….it was a realisation that you have to act now. I now have a plan to work towards and am clear on what I need to do and how to get there. Issues are still there but are now identified, named and have a plan to improve so they are less daunting, and that’s immeasurably beneficial.
Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) is delighted to have been involved with Charity Mentors, since its inception in 2013. Charity Mentors provides a valuable service in helping charities clarify and strengthen their strategies and we are delighted to be working with them and with OCVA to offer a charity triage service to Oxfordshire charities. This service provides confidential support to charities that find themselves facing an uncertain future. The initiative will help clarify problems and pinpoint the right support in terms of training, leadership or funding.
The service given by Charity Mentors was excellent. Our mentor was very professional, knowledgeable and well connected and asked some very interesting, challenging and thought provoking questions. Through a long and successful business career I had never had a mentor before, so was a little sceptical, but I felt very comfortable after our first meeting that our mentor could be very helpful and she was! It was very helpful to have an extremely capable and experienced person to help guide you through the challenges that an organisation faces.
I was extremely satisfied with the support given by Charity Mentors. I was looking for a mentor to help guide me in the implementation of our ambitious 5-year growth strategy. The mentor gave me the space to reflect and find my own way forward for the strategy that we framed.