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The Power of Mentorship: Elevating Careers to New Heights

The Power of Mentorship: Elevating Careers to New Heights

Chapter Leadership Brief 5.31.24

by Dr. Pazit Levitan
Founder, The Path to Impact

In the dynamic and competitive realm of fundraising, having a mentor is not just advantageous; it can be transformative. The AFP-NYC Mentorship Program, led by the fabulous Co-Chairs Susan Shapiro and Robin Merle, embodies this ethos.

Serving on the committee and participating as a mentor in the program myself, I have found the experience to be extraordinary. It has provided me with a profound sense of purpose and a deep connection to fellow fundraisers. Our chapter’s program goes beyond traditional mentorship; it fosters a community of support and growth, while enhancing our commitment to the field.

Mentorship is a cornerstone of professional growth and development, particularly in our specialized and multifaceted field. This Fundraising Matters Leadership Brief explores the benefits of mentorship for fundraising professionals, emphasizing its role in career advancement, skill development, networking opportunities and the cultivation of future industry leaders.

Promoting Collegial Relationships
One of the fundamental goals of the AFP-NYC Mentorship Program is to promote collegial relationships. These relationships provide a platform for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices. Mentorship creates a two-way street where both mentors and mentees can learn from each other, and grow. For the mentor, it is an opportunity to gain fresh perspectives and stay connected with emerging trends and challenges in the field. For the mentee, it is an exceptional opportunity to gain insights from a seasoned professional who has navigated the complexities of fundraising. Having a mentor who has traveled similar paths can serve as a valuable guide and motivator for the mentee.

Building a Professional Network
Another critical aspect of the mentorship program is assisting fundraising professionals in developing a nurturing network of like-minded individuals. Networking is a vital component of success in fundraising. As fundraisers, we often rely on our network for support, referrals, collaborations, discourse and advice. Mentorship helps expand this network, connecting mentees with influential figures in the industry and opening doors to new possibilities. Effective mentors empower mentees by teaching them how to expand their network strategically, and by sharing contacts when appropriate. Additionally, it is common for the mentor and the mentee to stay in touch even after the formal program has been completed, further expanding their professional network and creating lasting relationships.

Enhancing Professional Skills
The core of professional growth is skill development. An effective mentor focuses on strengthening the mentee’s skills through attention to specific areas of practice, inspired by their field experience. Providing tailored guidance can enhance specific fundraising techniques, such as preparing for a meeting with a potential donor, coaching on how to engage board members in fundraising, planning a fundraising campaign or guidance on follow-up communications. This practice not only enhances their professional skills but also makes the mentees feel more supported and confident, knowing they have a knowledgeable ally invested in their success.

Open Communication, Confidentiality and Career Vision
Our Chapter’s Mentorship Program prioritizes open communication and confidentiality to foster a productive and inspiring mentorship relationship. Confidentiality creates a safe space for mentees to discuss their challenges and aspirations openly. As a mentor, I promote open communication by actively listening, encouraging honest dialogue, and providing a non-judgmental environment. For example, one of my mentees was seeking a different role within the fundraising field, and we engaged in a discussion about the pros and cons of transitioning from a familiar job. Throughout this process, I listened attentively without judgment, helping him refine his communications, prepare for interviews, and navigate the obstacles of the transition. This trust-based approach ensures that the mentee feels supported and “not alone” in their professional journey.

I find that many mentees think about their career and ask to strategize accordingly. For most people, having a clear career vision is valuable for long-term success and fulfillment. Mentorship provides a structured environment where fundraisers can explore their career aspirations, set realistic goals, and develop a plan to achieve it. This clarity, coupled with the confidence gained through skill development, open communication and constructive feedback, empowers fundraisers to take on new challenges and pursue leadership roles within their organizations and the broader fundraising community.

Developing Future Leaders
Finally, one of the most significant benefits of the AFP-NYC Mentorship Program is its role in developing a diverse pipeline of future industry leaders. The fundraising sector, like many others, benefits greatly from diversity in leadership. Mentorship programs help identify and nurture talented individuals from historically underrepresented groups, providing them with the skills and confidence needed to take on leadership roles. Our commitment to IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) in the philanthropic sector ensures that the future of the fundraising profession is innovative and reflective of the communities it serves.

In summary, mentorship not only elevates individual careers but also strengthens the entire profession, ensuring its continued success and impact. As the fundraising landscape evolves, investing in mentorship is essential. Our exceptional leaders, Susan and Robin, have been instrumental in shaping this program, matching mentees with mentors, and continuously improving it based on feedback. Kudos to everyone involved!

The Mentorship Committee will be offering Flash Coaching Sessions throughout the day at Fundraising Day in New York on June 14th.  If you are attending FRDNY, consider signing up for our Flash Coaching Sessions where you will meet with a seasoned mentor and gain valuable insights.

if you are interested in participating in the next cohort as a mentor or mentee, you can read more and apply to the Fall 2024 Mentorship Cohort that will run for 5-months and start in August.

Pazit Levitan, Ed.D. CFRE is a seasoned nonprofit executive who serves on the board of AFP-NYC, an AFP-NYC Mentorship Committee Member, and a Mentor in AFP-NYC and AFP’s Womens Impact Initiative. Pazit is the Founder of a boutique advisory firm called The Path to Impact for nonprofit leaders, where she inspires success through strategic counsel with proven, practical tactics and a personal approach. Contact:




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