Q&A: My experiences of being a RAISE mentor
Applications to be a RAISE mentor are now open. Emma Smallwood, Development Manager at The Lowry, answers five questions about her experiences of being a mentor and says why she would recommend others to get involved in the programme.
1. Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I was keen to take on the role to support a young professional in a similar role to the one I started my fundraising career in over seven years ago. But I was also keen to take on a project which would help me grow personally in this current phase of my career as a manager, developing my skills in coaching and mentoring.
2. What have you personally got out of being a mentor?
It has been a really great opportunity for self-reflection, thinking about my experiences and career to date, and then thinking and talking about my team’s approaches and best practice. You rarely get the opportunity to just think and talk about what you do, and how you do it.
It has also been great for my professional confidence and self-esteem, through having really constructive conversations that my mentee has found interesting and valuable. It has also been a real pleasure getting to know my mentee and learning about the activities and approaches she takes and the challenges she faces in her role.
3. What has been your personal highlight from your time as a mentor?
It’s very difficult to pick out a particular highlight! Some of our conversations have clearly armed my mentee with lots of new and useful information, and to see her really galvanised and excited about taking information or suggestions away and acting on it is hugely rewarding.
4. Why would you recommend others to apply to become a mentor?
I would definitely recommend others to become a mentor if they would like to make a real difference to the emerging careers of fundraisers, perhaps supporting someone in a similar place to where they were a few years ago. It’s a great feeling to think that you are really going to help someone get the confidence, make the contacts and grow the ideas they need to take the next steps and become a real success. It’s also such a great opportunity professionally to reflect on your own career, and develop some really important management skills.
5. What advice would you recommend to someone thinking of becoming a mentor?
Just go for it! Don’t worry about whether you are experienced or ‘senior’ enough to do it, all of your experience and advice is so valuable and your mentee will be so excited to hear what you have to say!
Think about all the things you wish someone had told you when you were starting out in your fundraising career, or advice you’ve found really useful along the way, but also be sure to let the mentee set the agenda so they can come away from each meeting or conversation energised and full of answers and ideas.
Emma Smallwood is Development Manager at The Lowry
The Young Arts Fundraisers and IoF Cultural Sector Network mentoring scheme matches early-career fundraisers in the arts and cultural sector, with senior or director level development professionals from a wide range of organisations across England. The programme is funded by Arts Council England as part of the RAISE: Arts, Culture & Heritage programme.
The deadline for application is 12pm Monday 4 May 2020.