Hear what other people say about us
Hear what other people say about us
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
(The mentoring) has been a turning point for me and I found it to be constructive, informative and developed me more as a person and in my role as Project Manager. My mentor had a natural, open, kind but direct approach when challenging me. I believe the work we have done has stabilized the management of the project and enabled me to start to develop a strategy for building resilience and sustainability into what we do in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.