AFP Mentor Program Fulfilling Crucial Need

Clearly, there is a gap when it comes to professional development needs for young and upcoming fundraisers and even those new to the profession as addressed in this AFP Global article, Young Professionals Lacking Resources, Programs, Mentors for Career Advancement, this year.

AFP Greater Madison is working to plug that gap and help out both its members and non-members as it enters the second year of its mentoring program this fall. Check out some basic AFP Greater Madison mentorship info, a key excerpt from the aforementioned article, and hear from your colleagues involved in the AFP mentor program and their thoughts!

AFP Greater Madison mentorship program
“One of my best AFP Experiences”... Thoughts from Year One article
Open applications for Year Two: Ends July 31, 2021
Start date: Early Sept. 2021 after Labor Day
Length of program: 1 year
Time Commitment: Flexible, dependent on mentor/mentee pair
Qualifications: You DO NOT need to be member of AFP Greater Madison to participate, looking for both mentors and mentees
Questions? Email Lily Mize at

The article referenced above was published by AFP Global earlier this year and addresses these concerns in relation to mentoring after publishing results from a survey of nearly 5,000 young professionals (< 35 yo). Here’s a key excerpt:

Overall, just 40% of young fundraising professionals reported that their workplace offers any of the four programs or approaches that have been shown in other industries to assist career advancement, improve employee engagement, and promote teamwork. These are:

1. A specific talent development or leadership development program, strategy, or initiative (21% of all YPs reported this kind of program at their organization);
2. Training on working with people of different generations (16%);
3. Affinity groups within the organization related to any type of identity or interest, such as age, ethnicity, “green workplace,” bike to work, etc. (14%); and
4. A formal mentoring program for people new to fundraising (8%).



Our thoughts!
Administrator, Lily Mize (Access Community Health Centers): Our mentorship program can help combat YPs leaving positions and feeling unfulfilled by giving our mentors a more intimate perspective on the issue. Feedback from mentees about what is dissatisfying or challenging about their current positions or the positions they are seeking can become building blocks for change in the way our mentors accommodate YPs in their own workplaces.

It can be hard to see problems in your own workplace, but mentors might find some commonalities in the problems facing their mentee and the way their own organization supports YPs. Likewise, YPs might feel more comfortable disclosing insecurities and shortcomings in their careers to a trusted mentor than to a supervisor or someone within their organization. The more small changes that happen on individual levels will positively impact the sector as a whole. Serving as a mentor in this sense can be as much a learning experience as being mentored.

First-year mentee, Max Nguyen (Edgewood College): Many of us, myself included, work in small shops here in Madison that have sometimes less than five people working in development. Sometimes, it’s not realistic to be able to offer all (or any of the) four of these programs, but that’s where AFP comes in!

Eric, my mentor, taught me a lot of key fundraising skills, but he was really valuable in helping me navigate through a job change. A lot of hard skills can be learned in time, but the soft skills and intangibles Eric has taught me and reinforced are invaluable. Plus, I have someone I can always turn to for any kind of advice in career or life going forward!

First-year mentor, Eric Salisbury (UW Foundation): I believe this is a structural and resource issue. A lot of nonprofits where early career professionals are starting are small, local organizations. There isn’t going to be enough resources (money for professional development, time, people power) to provide a formal mentoring program. 

As such, instead of saying this needs to be addressed at the organizational level (which would further burden already under-resourced, small nonprofits), it really needs to be addressed at the industry level.  Early career professionals need to be encouraged by their organizations (and given the time) to seek outside mentorship and to join groups like AFP.  AFP should be providing this type of programming as a service to our industry. I’m really happy that our Madison chapter has picked up the baton.

Administrator, Pete Schwieger (PBS Wisconsin): What an important program that has been for our first few pairings. I point to one of the key quotes in the article that is another couple big reasons why mentorship can be so valuable, along with the thoughts of others mentioned here: “However, of YPs who have a workplace mentor, 84% state their mentor has either definitely helped or somewhat helped them think about how to manage and/or advance in their career. YPs who had a mentor earned higher salaries on average, and when those with a mentor negotiated for their compensation, the average increase in salary was $6,100.”

First-year mentee, Creal Zearing (Gathering Waters): I just noticed that, from a small non-profit perspective, it would be really hard, if not completely impossible, to have practically any of the programs they ask about in those questions. When your organization consists of only 5 full-time staff, one of whom is a full-time development person, none of those programs are even remotely possible.

Alternatively, I've benefited from having really good relationships at my organization, but I am so grateful to have close ties with other development professionals, including Mike, my mentor through AFP. It feels really valuable as a young professional, especially being the only development person in my organization.

Administrator, Ash Collins (Best Friends Animal Society): I feel like it can be hard for smaller organizations to provide mentorship opportunities, and I hope that our mentorship program is helping address the concerns in this article! The program has been beneficial to this year's participants, and we are excited to see what the next year holds!






Max and Eric







Creal Zearing






Ash Collins

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