Why Every Fundraiser Needs a Mentor
Finding a way to break out from our daily routines can be nearly impossible. A routine, your “normal way of doing things,” provides stability, comfort, efficiency, and even, success. But what about those areas where your routine is failing you and is causing you to be mediocre, or even to fail? What if that area is affecting your fundraising results?
Most fundraisers that are reading this right now find themselves going through much of their day alone, working in some sort of silo, or at least without much accountability. No one wants that replaced with micro-management, but what is the difference between having freedom in one’s role and having autonomy?
I’d like to assert that if you find yourself in the happy place of having freedom in your role as fundraiser, it means that you have a well-structured, well-understood set of expectations. In other words, boundaries. The true meaning of freedom.
Autonomy, on the other hand is, boundary-less. (Or only has the boundaries that you desire and set up for yourself, without feedback or accountability.) This is not freedom and it often leads to discouragement and disappointing results. (Bonus content: the word “autonomy” is a combination of the words “autos” and “nomos,” derived from the ancient Greek language, which literally means “own law”.)
So if by choice or chance you find yourself in a fundraising role that provides you the shackles of autonomy, there is hope! And it’s simple: at the end of reading this sentence call the first person that comes to your mind when you think of the word mentor.
OK, maybe don’t call quite yet.
Let’s first answer this question: why is a mentor the secret sauce to helping you break out of unhelpful routines and the bounds of autonomy? The answer: feedback and accountability. We all need someone (and often several someones) in our life where the primary goal of the relationship is feedback and accountability on our goals, choices, ideas, failures, success, fears, dreams, etc.
Convinced? Now call.
Objections? Well, who do I call? Is there a list of mentors I can Google? No, don’t Google. You already know this person. They’ve probably offered you help at some point in the past. You probably aren’t friends or even socialize with them, and you may not even think you “like” them, but you know they can help you. Yep, that person who you’re NOW thinking of, that should be your next call (or text, or email).
We often mistake the notion that a mentor is someone who we would also want to be best friends with or admire every facet of their life. Wrong. A mentor is someone who possesses both the willingness to help and the experience or skill in a particular area that you need to sharpen. The area in questions could be as broad as “fundraising” or “time management,” or as refined as “becoming a better conversationalist” or “planned giving marketer.” A mentor relationship could last a few weeks or a few years.
Don’t let your preconceived notions, insecurities or time, or whatever your excuse might be, keep you from a lunch or cup of coffee with that person (you already know them) who can be that agent of change in your life. It pays both personal and professional dividends!
How has a mentor changed your fundraising effectiveness? Leave your comments below.
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