During a recent speaking engagement with a mixed group of experienced, as well as brand new fundraisers, we were discussing the various methods of gaining proper fundraising knowledge.

The options revolving around webinars, conferences, certifications, college-related courses and reading publications were all discussed fairly in-depth.

However, a very key method was virtually ignored.

When I mentioned the concept of mentoring, by asking how many were currently serving as a mentor, or if anyone was using a mentor, the show of hands was less than ten percent of the room!

It made me wonder why this is currently the case?

Too Much Social Media?

Could it be that all of the social media usage and connectivity had rendered good old fashioned, person-to-person mentoring obsolete?

Obviously, so much can be shared within the multitude of social media platforms, but can it ever replace the exceptional training that can be gained by mentoring with a truly successful veteran of fundraising?

The results of such mentoring speak louder than any words that could be written here. Based upon the thousands of fundraisers that I have met over the last three decades, those who gained a portion of their knowledge from mentoring seem to better understand the nuances of relationship fundraising.

Two Way Communication Learning

One the major factors, if not the most vital, is that mentoring provides the person being mentored the opportunity to ask questions along the way. This clarifies understanding and brings the nuances that often spell the difference between success and failure into play.

Think of the times in your life when you may have been fortunate enough to be working directly with a personal tutor. Do you recall the great strides you were able to make?

If it is a knowledgeable mentor, just think of the specific situations you could explore with questions and answers flowing in both directions. This is especially true if the mentor is astute enough to be asking questions of you to insure your grasp of the knowledge being imparted.

This type of learning and understanding is not easy to replicate by reading a book, attending a webinar or even by attending a conference or higher-ed class.

Go Make Fundraising Mentoring Happen

Presuming all of the above information makes sense to you, please take charge of your destiny by reaching out to find your mentor. The majority of the possible mentors will be flattered that you asked. They know it can be a rewarding experience for them too.

If you are an experienced and successful professional fundraiser I also urge you to take your career to the next level by offering to be a mentor for someone new to the world of professional fundraising. Just think of how much better philanthropy would be if a successful veteran mentored every first year fundraiser.

Please add a comment or two below if you have any sort of mentoring success story to share!

Stay Together - How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.