Views expressed by News/Blog authors are solely that of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association of Fundraising Professionals New York City Chapter. Links Disclaimer


Why You Should Apply for AFP-NYC’s Mentorship Program

Why You Should Apply for AFP-NYC’s Mentorship Program

Chapter Leadership Brief 9.9.2022

Why You Should Apply for AFP-NYC’s Mentorship Program
By Victoria Shadle Williams

Last fall I was excited to see that AFP-NYC was once again hosting a mentorship program for members. When I applied to be a mentee the previous year I was not selected, so I was thrilled to be invited to join the program for 2022. While I’ve been working in development for a handful of years and had informal mentors before, this would be my first time in a structured mentorship program and it came at the perfect time in my career.

After two and a half years in an individual and corporate giving management role at a mid-sized nonprofit, in January 2022 I started in my first truly senior-level position at a small nonprofit. I went from a mid-level role on a large team to a senior-level position reporting to the Executive Director and leading all development and communications with the support of consultants and one direct report. 

It was an exciting but stressful jump with lots to prove, and just as that new chapter was starting I joined AFP-NYC’s mentorship program as a mentee. The mentorship planning team learned about my experience and ambitions through my application and thoughtfully paired me with Adrienne Cea, an experienced fundraiser who made a similar career leap herself years earlier. 

I met with Adrienne for the first time the week before starting my new job and she immediately put me at ease, reminding me that yes, this senior position is going to be challenging – but starting a new leadership position is difficult for anyone! Adrienne helped me feel more confident going into my new role. This job was a big and risky step for me, but having a mentor who had already been through that jump successfully helped me feel assured in my skills and what I was bringing to the table. 

Adrienne and I started meeting over coffee every other month or so and while we had wide-ranging conversations, she also pushed me to articulate my professional goals for the year and what I needed to do to achieve those goals. She was there as I navigated challenges big and small with volunteer leadership, hiring my direct report, and the stress and anxiety of applying for a giant government contract. Adrienne could relate to what I was going through and give advice based on her years of experience. 

At first, when I got into the program I thought the mentee/mentor relationship would be fairly tactical and the mentor would share their best practices for fundraising, but for us, it ended up being so much more – something that I truly couldn’t get from reading articles or attending a professional development event. Over time, Adrienne became a sounding board, confidant, and cheerleader. Her support was unique and valuable as fundraising careers can feel lonely at times, both out in the world where there are many misconceptions about what we do and even within our own organizations. Adrienne reminded me of the community I have here at AFP. 

As I close out my first year as a Director of Development and Communications, I’m so thankful for Adrienne and the AFP-NYC Mentorship Program. I highly recommend anyone who is eligible consider applying, even if you’ve applied in the past and were not selected. If you are lucky enough to join the program and get paired with a mentor like Adrienne, it will be well worth the time and effort. 

Theme picker