Mentoring Program Guidelines - Mentor

The purpose of the mentoring program is to match experienced development professionals with those seeking guidance to promote career growth, enhance their development experience or identify a resource for general advice.

Click here to complete the mentor application.

Participant requirements:


  • AFP Member with fewer than five years of development experience (or for those with 5+ years of experience and looking for a mentor to help them grow in a specific area).

  • Commitment to participate in the program for at least one year.

  • Meet with your assigned mentor regularly as mutually agreed.  

  • Willingness to complete a program evaluation periodically.


  • AFP Member with a minimum of five years of development experience.

  • Commitment to participate in the program for at least one year.

  • Initiate the first contact with assigned mentee.

  • Meet with assigned mentee regularly as mutually agreed.

  • Willingness to complete a program evaluation periodically.

  • Suggested time commitment: one hour per month as jointly determined by mentor and mentee.

The Mentoring Committee will review all applications and match mentors and mentees according to common interests and skills.


The Role of Mentor

As a mentor, it is anticipated that you will share your experience and advice on topics such as:

  • Integrated nature of development programs

  • Board development and relationships

  • Major gifts

  • Annual giving

  • Capital giving

  • Planned giving

  • Event Planning

  • Volunteer Management

  • Grant Writing

  • Creating an environment for philanthropy

  • Development program evaluation

  • Career development

  • AFP Code of Ethical Practices and Standards of Professional Practice

While this advice is specific to the field of development, your advisory relationship to your mentee may include other topics, such work-life balance, changing career paths or engaging in AFP St. Louis chapter. In return, your participation in the program should expand your professional contacts and, possibly, lead to the establishment of new collaborative opportunities.  As a mentor, you are making an important contribution to the AFP St. Louis Chapter and to your profession.

Some general suggestions:

  • Take the initiative in the relationship. Invite your mentee to talk, suggest topics to discuss, and ask if you can offer advice. Ask about and encourage accomplishments.   Ask if you can make a suggestion or offer criticism.

  • Respect your mentee’s time as much as you respect your own. Be explicit about your own needs and limits. Be specific and share times you wish not to be disturbed and/or times that are preferred for communication. Request the same of your mentee. The use of email greatly alleviates having to set a specific time to talk.  Social media may be an appropriate method for your mentoring relationship.

  • Be explicit with your mentee that you are only offering suggestions and that they should be weighed along with advice received from others. You should encourage your mentee to seek out advice from others, depending on the topic or issue being discussed. If you can identify someone that can assist your mentee with a particular topic or issue, share the contact information.

  • Make only positive or neutral comments about your mentee to others. Your mentee must trust that anything said to you will be held in confidence unless instructed otherwise.

  • When criticism is offered, it should be followed by constructive advice for improvement. If possible, specific examples should be offered. It’s not a bad idea to allow the mentee to think about your comments and then come back together to discuss them.

  • If, after a period of time, you don’t believe that either you or your mentee are able to participate in an effective mentoring relationship, be clear when discussing this.  It may be necessary to end the relationship. Such a decision need not reflect badly on either of you. Please contact a member of the Mentoring Committee if this is necessary.

Potential Pitfalls:

  • Limited time. Experience has shown that finding the time and energy for a mentor and mentee to get together is a great obstacle. Take advantage of email, the telephone, etc. as ways of staying in touch. Social media may be an appropriate platform for sharing information.

  • Lack of knowledge/skills. After you have accepted the role of a mentor, you may discover this relationship does not meet your expectations.  Or, your mentee may need advice in an area in which you do not feel competent to advise. In this situation, feel free to either contact a member of the Mentoring Committee or to contact another AFP member who may be more helpful for his/her specific need. Encourage your mentee to be open to taking the initiative to find another person to get a different point of view.

  • Over-dependence. Over-dependence can go in either direction in a mentoring relationship. However, it is not wise for the mentee to become over-dependent on you as a mentor. It should be everyone’s goal to grow professionally within the parameters of the program as agreed.  Your former mentee most likely values this relationship and may look to you as someone to contact for advice in the future.


Periodically during the commitment period, mentors and mentees will be asked to evaluate their mentoring match. The AFP St. Louis Chapter Mentoring Committee uses this information to track successes and the mentoring program, as a whole. We appreciate your involvement in the mentoring program and your input to promote its continued success.