Further Information for Mentees 

This resource provides SCC members with information and advice on our mentoring programme. It is designed to help you consider whether mentoring is right for you and to give you an understanding of what you might expect from a mentoring relationship.

 

You may already have some knowledge or experience of mentoring - as a mentor or a mentee - and you are welcome to bring that into this programme where you consider it relevant. This is a reference document rather than a prescribed blueprint, and where we provide specific direction we do so because we have a specific need in mind. If you have any further questions about how to interpret this, please speak with a member of staff.

 

We know this resource will not cover every possible situation, and you should not consider it formal (legal) advice or guidance. If you can’t find a helpful steer in here for your situation, please share your experience with us so we can assist you directly and update this document for others in similar positions. 

 

We have assembled what we believe may be some frequently asked questions and presented them in an assumed chronological order - following the typical stages your mentoring relationship might go through.

 

Areas and issues covered 

CONSIDERING GETTING A MENTOR 

  • What is mentoring (and what is it not?)

  • What makes a good mentoring relationship?

  • How do I know mentoring is right for me? What can I expect of a Mentor?

  • Is this a 1-2-1 programme, or can mentors support my whole charity?

  • How does the matching process work? Can I pick my mentor?

  • How long will it take to find a mentor?

  • How long does mentoring last? How often should we meet?

  • What do I need to do to be eligible for mentoring?

  • What ongoing support will SCC provide? 

  • Legal notices and liabilities

 

STARTING YOUR MENTORING RELATIONSHIP 

  • What can I expect of my mentor, and what should we cover during our first meeting? Should I keep notes of our meetings?

  • What if I don’t get on with my mentor, or they can’t provide what I need from them?

  • Can I take a break if work or other circumstances affects my ability to commit?

  • What kind of information does SCC need from our meetings?

  • Expenses policy

 

ENDING THE MENTORING RELATIONSHIP 

  • Does a match have to end?

  • How should we end the match?

  • What happens once the match ends?

 

CONSIDERING GETTING A MENTOR

What is mentoring? (and what is it not?)

Mentoring is usually a one-to-one, non-judgemental relationship where one individual (the mentor) voluntarily gives their time to support and encourage another (the mentee) to help them move forward towards an identified goal. Their relationship is usually conducted within an agreed time period in order to help keep it focused on the goal. 

 

The mentor’s main role in the relationship is to help the mentee move towards their goal, usually drawing on their own insight and experience to provide direction and insight. Mentors often provide information and signposting for mentees (helping to define the goal clearly, sharing relevant resources or giving the mentee different options to explore), but their role is not to complete or achieve the goal for the mentee. Instead, the mentor is someone with whom a mentee can work through their options and find a right way forward.

 

Mentoring relationships often:

  • Take place at a time of transition in the mentee’s life and last for a fixed but sustained period;

  • Develop a mutual relationship with an intentional agenda, imparting specific information and life wisdom, through something like a ‘professional friendship’;

  • Meet a mentee’s development need or help them fulfil potential;

  • Create a safe space for learning and experimentation, a protected relationship in which results are measured in the competencies gained;

  • Benefit from mutuality – though giving through time and knowledge is often its own reward, many mentors also come to value what they learn from mentees, or gain from working in an unfamiliar context. In this sense, mentoring provides a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth for both parties.

 

What makes a good mentoring relationship?

A good relationship gives the mentee power and agency - it’s primarily your relationship to direct in the service of your goal or challenge; you should take ownership and think about how you want to set the agenda. As all good mentoring relationships are based on mutual trust and respect, an early focus on creating positive boundaries and clear, mutual expectations will always be time well spent. 

 

To achieve this, don’t be afraid to spend some time agreeing ground rules, such as how and how often you want to meet, and for how long you think the relationship should last (or to put it another way, how long you think it will take to achieve your goal). It can be easy for mentoring relationships to drift and for one party to end up feeling taken for granted. Remember you’re making a commitment to each other, but you get to decide what that commitment looks like.

 

In a similar vein, neither of you is obliged to disclose anything you don’t wish to, or that you don’t feel comfortable sharing. However, if some disclosure is useful on either side, you might wish to have an explicit conversation about confidentiality as you work together. 

 

Outcomes of great mentoring relationships often include:

  • Improving skills, gaining knowledge, increasing confidence;

  • Developing new approaches and strategies;

  • Identifying support structures and new networks;

  • Self-reflection and self-discovery for both.

 

How do I know mentoring is right for me? What can I expect of a mentor?

There are many different forms of mentoring, but if you’ve read the question about what mentoring is (above) you’ll appreciate that it’s a usually a supportive, future-facing relationship that focuses on helping you to achieve a particular goal yourself - so it’s not like you’ve recruited a ‘regular’ volunteer, to whom you might give direction or delegate tasks. 

 

If you think this sounds quite like coaching, you’re right! In this context, the main difference between mentoring and coaching is the background of the mentor and the role that plays in helping you to reach your goal - a mentor will usually have some experience in the area of your goal, and can draw on this to help give you direction. 

 

Alternatively, a coach will usually specialise in their approach or client group (executive coaching, sales coaching, life coaching etc.) but need not have any particular experience in your area of focus. Coaches usually start from the premise that the answers are already within you, and use their skill to draw that out.

 

The table below will help you understand more about the difference between mentoring and similar interventions.

 

 

 

 

If you still feel mentoring is right for you, then here are some suggestions as to how you might use this programme. As you’d expect, the goals with which we want to support you should relate closely to your small charity leadership role. We aim to find you a mentor that:

 

  • Can help you address a particular challenge you are facing in your charity. This may be an organisational risk or practical issue, where the mentor’s skills and experience can help you plan and deliver on your approach - a funding challenge, a new strategy, an IT change management project etc; and/or 

  • Can help with an aspect of your professional development - something that supports your effectiveness as a small charity leader. This could be about increasing your professional knowledge, gaining a business skill or even developing a new emotional capability.

 

This is also how we describe the scheme to potential mentors, to give them an idea of what they might be asked to do. If you decide to go ahead and apply, we’ll ask you more about the kind of goal for which you’re looking for some support.

 

Is this a 1-2-1 programme, or can mentors support my whole charity?

This is designed as a 1-2-1 mentoring programme for you as a Small Charity Leader. If there are wider needs across your team you may like to encourage others to also apply individually, or perhaps seek a different kind of skilled volunteer to work with your team. Specialist agencies like Reach or The Cranfield Trust can help with this. You could also think about your leadership role in supporting your team, and how you might factor those development needs into the goal you set with your mentor.

 

How does the matching process work? Can I pick my mentor?

Mentees and Mentors apply for the scheme via an expression of interest form. We ask a short but broad range of questions, covering your goal and more practical aspects such as how often you’d like to meet. You don’t need to know all the answers at this stage, but the more you can tell us, the better chance we’ll find you a great match.

 

We’re experimenting with a number of ways of bringing matches together; for example, we might propose a match solely from what you’ve told us in your expression of interest form. In these cases we’ll share some details of the mentor we have in mind, and ask you first if you’d like to meet them. 

 

We won’t suggest you as a possible match to them until you’re happy for us to do so. And of course, you’re under no obligation to agree with our first suggestion, or go through with the match if you agree to meet them. Mentors understand that the relationship is yours to direct and has to be right for you - we will prepare them for this process.

 

We’re also interested in exploring informal group meet ups as a way to support matching - a chance for prospective mentees and mentors to meet and get to know each other in a relaxed setting. These sessions will carry no expectation of matches, but they may be a useful way for you to explore mentoring. Best case scenario, you meet your ideal mentor! 

 

As we develop a range of approaches, we’d welcome your feedback on how you think matching would work best for you.

 

How long will it take to find me a mentor?

Once you’ve submitted your registration form, please appreciate there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to find you a mentor immediately. Finding the right mentor for you gives you the best possible chance of a rewarding, sustainable match and, of course, though we are always on the lookout for new mentor we do not have access to an unlimited pool.

 

The more you can tell us in your registration form the better. This will help us to make a variety of possible suggestions, and pick up on any hard deadlines you have that might fit into your mentoring needs. We’re a small staff team and will generally process registrations on a first-come-first-served basis, but we will always try and accommodate more urgent requests where possible.

 

This is a new, relaunched iteration of our mentoring programme and, as yet, we don’t have a strong sense as to how long an average match takes to broker. We will update this question in the future when we have some data.

 

How long does mentoring last? How often should we meet?

There is no standard answer here – it’s something we encourage you to discuss and agree with your mentor. The pattern you agree will probably relate to your goal and how you want to achieve it. If you're unsure about the anticipated length of your relationship, or your goal isn’t yet fully formed, you can always begin and build in a review stage later, to consider where you are. Equally, if the goal initially feels too big you could consider breaking it into stages, to match your available commitments. 

 

So the short answer is it’s up to you! But if you’re looking for a steer we suggest you prepare for a minimum relationship of around three months. You don’t have to stick to this but be aware that we advise mentors the same, purely so that you both come to your initial discussion with some common understanding.

 

In terms of frequency of meetings, again this is up to you both to agree but we recommend not letting it go too long without some contact (even if this is only checking in). This is to maintain a focus on the goal more than anything else.

 

We ask you for some of this information in your expression of interest form. We use your answers to help create matches, so you shouldn’t be paired with anyone whose expectations are wildly different to your own. We will brief you on this before your first meeting.

 

What do I need to do to be eligible for mentoring?

Nothing - your SCC membership and your commitment to a positive, honest and fulfilling relationship is the only real eligibility criteria. If you take a match we will ask for some basic monitoring information, but we’ve made an effort to keep this very light touch.

 

Can I take a break if work or other circumstances affects my ability to commit?

Yes of course, if that’s agreeable to both of you. Remain mindful of the commitments you have made to each other, but if you need to take a break (or your mentor feels unable to maintain but wants to keep the relationship open) bring this to your next discussion and address it openly. Mentoring is a voluntary relationship and always works best when both parties understand each other’s limits. 

 

What ongoing support will SCC provide? 

We make the majority of our support available to you (and your mentor) in the early stages. Research suggests this is key to successful mentorships - a strong match that quickly builds trust. Beyond this, we focus on giving you the tools to manage a relationship yourselves. 

 

We don’t have to join you for your first meeting - we will try to prepare you both for this and provide a suggested structure for what to cover. However, please talk to us further at the matching stage if you would welcome support here or have any concerns. 

 

Once you are in a match please be assured that you are not alone; you will always have a staff point of contact, and we will continue to update this page to help support your relationship and answer common questions. 

 

Legal notices and liabilities

In entering into a mentoring relationship, you understand that you do so voluntarily and without the legal protection or liability of the Small Charities Coalition. Our mentoring programme does not constitute a paid service for you as members, and it is not resourced by any external grants or contracts that come with any particular obligations. 

 

Your voluntary mentoring agreement (covered by the what you agree in your first meeting/s, and we capture in your kick off form) is primarily for the benefit of you both, to recognise your intentions to each other, agree some basic ground rules and manage your expectations. It does not constitute any kind of contract or binding agreement, either with each other or with SCC. Our goal for this programme is simply to help broker a great mentoring match that helps you and your charity to thrive.

 

One area to pay attention to in your match is any formal advice or guidance your mentor may give you. We encourage them to avoid this where possible - information and signposting, to help you find your own answers, are always safer options. Your mentor may be professionally qualified in a particular area and therefore well-placed to give advice, but for the avoidance of doubt you solicit and/or act upon any such advice or guidance at your own risk. SCC is not liable for any action you take as the result of advice or guidance provided by a mentor under this scheme.

 

Thankfully, the prospect of legal issues arising through mentoring relationships of this kind is very low. The vast majority of such relationships are rewarding and fulfilling for both parties. 


STARTING YOUR MENTORING RELATIONSHIP

 

What should we cover during our first meeting? 

We suggest you spend some time getting to know each other and discussing why you are drawn to mentoring. Like any good voluntary relationship, understanding each other’s expectations is key to its success. 

Your first few meetings are an opportunity to build trust and establish your goals - your mentor can help you with this if it’s not already fully formed. Even if it is, you may find it useful to use your mentor to test your assumptions.

The formal objectives of the first meeting (or first few meetings, if you prefer) are covered on the template we’ll send you. You’ll be able to use this as a structure for the meeting. These include:

 

  • defining the mentee’s key goal(s) and the outlines of your plan to achieve them; 

  • exploring your expectations of each other and the roles you will both play;

  • agreeing your likely time commitments and matting patterns. 

 

You can keep these under review as you get going and amend them as you wish – the important point is that you start off on a clear basis. Beyond this, we suggest you simply focus on getting to know each other, building rapport and creating conditions of trust.

 

What kind of information does SCC need from our meetings?

Because we want your main focus to stay on your goals and relationship, we’ve made an effort to keep our reporting requests to a minimum. We ask each match to commit to two short forms at the beginning and end of your relationship, with optional review meetings in between if helpful. We’ve designed these to be quick, effective opportunities for capturing impact and feedback only:

  • A record of your kick-off meeting – we’ll give you a template to develop and note the goals you agree, your expected timescales and any other thoughts you have on how you want the relationship to work. We ask that you complete this together;

  • A mid-term health check (optional) – we’ll give you a short self-assessment template to work through together at one of your meetings, at around the anticipated half-way point in your relationship. It’s designed to check in on goal progress (amending them, if necessary), help with focus, flag any challenges you’re experiencing or request additional support from us;

  • An End of match report – again, a short template to complete to reflect on the relationship, progress against the original (or amended) goals and any unexpected outcomes of your time together (good or bad). Well also ask for some estimated numbers - how often you met and for how long. This helps us analyse the benefits and challenges of the programme and report on our wider impact. And if you’re really up for it, we may ask if you’d be prepared to do a short case study for us.

 

What if I don’t get on with my mentor, or they can’t provide what I’m looking for?

It’s a good question - mutual expectations can be difficult to align and are often the reasons why mentoring breaks down. That’s why the early stages are so important, so please do:

 

  • read these FAQs thoroughly, to prepare you for what to expect;

  • include as much information as you can on the expression of interest form;

  • go into your early meetings with an open mind - your mentor may have a very different perspective on your challenge, but that could be helpful.

 

Remember, your mentor’s role is not to complete the goal for you. Even if they want to be really hands on, you should remember that the goal is yours and its achievement should be something you can really own and celebrate yourself. 

 

So it’s fine to consider withdrawing, but of course we recognise that these conversations can be challenging or uncomfortable. You could start by reviewing the initial commitments you made to each other and any expectations you logged in your kick-off meeting. Have these changed for the mentor? Bring any thoughts to your next meeting, encourage an open discussion on how best to proceed.

 

Perhaps it’s your own commitments that have changed. This can happen and it’s no-one’s fault. Again, try raising this in a spirit of openness to discover whether your mentor can accommodate you, or whether a more radical change is required (a changing of the goal, a break period, or a match ending).

 

If these avenues do not resolve the situation to your satisfaction, ask us for your next check in template (the Mid-term Review or End of match report) and we’ll review and make suggestions on how best to proceed.

 

Expenses policy

We don’t anticipate that your mentorship incurring any financial costs (other than those of communication, for which we ask you to use your own devices, platforms and data packages). If you believe you are likely to incur any financial costs as a result of your mentorship, please explore and document these as best you can during your kick-off meeting and we will advise.


ENDING THE MENTORING RELATIONSHIP

Does a match have to end?

We recommend that it does. Healthy mentoring is goal-oriented, which means there are usually fixed points at which the relationship can naturally end. 

 

This doesn’t have to be a sad occasion; it could be an opportunity to celebrate success! Neither does it mean that you have to break off all contact. You may choose to keep in touch professionally, or even become friends. 

 

The key point is to use the goal as a marker and acknowledge that beyond this point your relationship has changed - and that SCC’s support for it is withdrawn (this means we can redeploy our staff to support other members in new mentoring relationships).

 

How should we end the match?

You should look to bring the match to an end once the goals are achieved, or one of you is unable to continue and you’ve been unable to identify any alternatives. The important thing is to recognise the progress you’ve made and bring the match to an end in a positive way. Call a final meeting and we’ll send you the End of Match form – this will give you some pointers on what to try and capture and encourage you to acknowledge your successes!

 

What happens once the match ends?

Your match should be a supportive, voluntary, professional relationship and as such there is no obligation on either side to continue the relationship. However, if you wish to do this, here are some suggestions: 

 

  • You can of course remain friends or professional colleagues under your own steer. From this point, SCC has no particular requests of you; 

 

  • If you have identified a new goal, you may wish to continue your mentoring relationship under this new objective. We’d be happy to support this, and would encourage you to contact us with your thoughts. We may suggest using the kick-off template again to capture the new goal.

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