Mentoring for Charity leaders in Berkshire

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 The need

Post pandemic the not-for-profit sector is being called upon to shoulder even more responsibilities as government funding is curtailed. The managers of organisations in the sector require a multiplicity of skills and experience, and they usually have scant resources and little time. Typically they manage complex strategic challenges at the same time as operational firefighting in what seems to be an increasingly difficult environment. This can be a lonely experience.

There is, however,  a growing appreciation of the value of the social sector and there are countless examples of individuals who want to volunteer their time and resources in the most effective way they can. The Charity Mentors idea is to seek out senior leaders from the public and private sector who are willing to use their professional skills and time to help not-for-profit  organisations by becoming mentors.

What we do

The Charity Mentors model is specific and distinctive.  Its features include:

  • short-term mentoring of leaders on strategic issues only
  • clarity about outcomes
  • clear boundaries in terms of expectations for both mentor and mentee
  • monitoring of projects by the coordinator in order to maximize effectiveness and impact
  • mentor learning and training facilitated in case meetings. 

The model is distinct from most other business sharing skills initiatives and corporate responsibility schemes that exist in other counties.

Our approach
Mentoring is not consultancyMentors act as catalysts for constructive change

Charity mentors encourage mentees to maximize their own problem solving abilities.

The professional skills and experience of the mentor are important because they enable questioning which can unlock the underlying issues and allow the mentee to sift through possible approaches. Mentors act as “critical friends” who challenge positively and encourage and support by offering possible options. They act as guides in helping the mentee to develop their own solutions.

The Charity Mentor model requires mentors to use their skills to enable others to make strategic decisions.

Our Model
Defined projects within a constrained (short-term) time frame and working towards tangible outcomes ensures focus from both the mentor and mentee.

Short Term – The aim is to complete each mentoring project within three months.

Strategic – All projects involve challenge at the strategic level.

Specific – Clear goals are set at the beginning of each project with a pre-agreed picture of what completion of the project will look like in terms of outcomes.

Charity issues might include:

  • Decisions about the future development and direction of the organisation.
  • Decisions concerning organisational structure and staffing.
  • Exploring how an organisation might move to the “next step” in terms of growth and sustainability.
  • Positioning and purpose of an organisation to enable strategic focus and better funding applications.
  • Support with strategic plans given changes in the funding environment.
  • Working with trustees more effectively or using volunteers more effectively.
  • Being new in role as a manager or CEO. Helping to think about change and focus.
  • Governance issues.
  • Marketing issues.
  • Team building and support.

Our Management

We define the project outcomes clearly at the beginning of each mentoring project.

We don’t offer specific technical expertise. We offer mentoring on strategy to those who are directly responsible for this.

We manage client expectations about what mentoring means (difference between “mentoring”, “consultancy” and “skills support”).

We are building a cohesive mentor group; a hand-picked, small group of mentors who are managed and supported. Mentors are clear about the boundaries of the model. We will meet 4 times a year for case discussions, have one-on-one annual reviews and provide coaching for anyone wishing to talk through specific project challenges.

Key Success Factors
The quality of our mentors:

Our mentors are carefully picked to ensure they have experience of leadership at a senior level and will have taken responsibility for strategy at a high level.

Mentors have a high level of expertise in management and business planning and most have experience in the not-for- profit sector. They are often the sort of person that it might be difficult for the charity leader to otherwise have access to and they also have listening skills, empathy and impartiality to enable them to be successful mentors. The short-term nature of the mentoring model attracts mentors of this calibre because it allows them flexibility to pursue other interests.

How we do it

Initially we have recruited 7 mentors and intend to keep the mentor group relatively small, so that learning can be effectively shared and skills developed over time.  Mentors will typically take two or three projects a year.

How it works:

  • Referrals will be taken over the telephone by the coordinator who, following an initial meeting, matches a mentor to a mentee.
  • The initial meeting is an assessment meeting. There is no commitment to any specific project unless agreement is reached between mentor and mentee at this meeting.
  • The process will continue only after the initial meeting has taken place, agreement has been reached that the mentor and mentee can work together, the relevant trustees of the mentees’ charity have been informed and a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ has been signed between the mentees charity and Charity Mentors Berkshire.
  • If the project proceeds, there will be between 3 to 6 meetings with some email support in between.
  • On completion of the project, both mentor and mentee are asked to contact the coordinator by email. Both parties are then sent a short feedback form for completion and a six to nine month follow-up by the coordinator is also scheduled so that progress and outcomes can be further checked.


How it fits within the Third-Sector support structure in Berkshire:

Within Berkshire, there are two sources of support for the third sector; the publicly funded (or part-publicly funded) support organisations, and private sector initiatives.

Within the publicly funded organisations, there are two main bodies: the voluntary sector represented by Community Voluntary Associations (CVA’s) operating in some of the six unitary Authorities including Slough and Reading and Volunteering groups in the others; and Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF) that works right across the county.

The CVA’s give direct technical advice and support in a wide range of areas, including governance, legal structures, policies and procedures, recruitment, fundraising tactics, funding sources, funding applications, publicity and managing volunteers.  They can also advise on ways to research need, plan projects and develop strategic plans, including offering different models and techniques for planning.

Charity Mentors Berkshire can provide the context and enable organisations to establish where the priorities lie and what to ask for.

Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF) is primarily concerned with supporting the voluntary sector through the distribution of funds and grants. Charity Mentors Berkshire has been careful to separate itself from the prospect of funding but works closely with the BCF in terms of priorities and needs and the Foundation will signpost Charity Mentors Berkshire to individuals and organisations that might benefit from working with us.

Many private sector initiatives take the form of business connector projects or business skills sharing schemes but these often differ from  our service offering  because projects are more “hands-on” and tactical rather than strategic. Many of the business connector projects involve an element of staff development for both parties. Charity Mentors Berkshire will only recruit business leaders with a well-established track record in senior leadership positions in the private or public sector. The Berkshire Charity Mentors’ emphasis is on the individual, not the company affiliation. Business skills- sharing schemes tend to offer more hands-on help with PR, website design, accountancy issues etc.


Mentoring for Charity leaders in Berkshire

Give yourself a boost with our free mentoring service


Contact Details

For further information please contact:

Chris Barrett DL (Coordinator)

Charity Mentors Berkshire

07778 333888