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Steve Hayes: January is National Mentoring Month

There was a study done decades ago that discovered that children who thrived after traumatic events had one thing in common:  An adult who was a constant positive presence in their lives.  Upon hearing this, one of our more prominent nonprofit leaders remarked,” Where is my adult?  I need that too!”  We all need that “Adult” in our lives we can turn to for guidance and support.  One of the tenets of the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium is that good training for nonprofits must be supported by opportunities for individual coaching and mentoring.  While the Consortium offers forty different “classroom style” training events each year, much of the benefit of that training are the hundreds of hours of mentoring, coaching, and support that is built into every event.

The Executive Leadership Academy is a year-long leadership development program that allows participants to attend training at the Center for Creative Leadership.  After a battery of online assessments, participants meet for day-long seminars on developing their own leadership skills. Supporting the training is a program that gives each nonprofit leader an individual coach to work with during the training to implement what they’ve learned.  Participants are also placed in small “Peer Coaching” groups where they learn how to coach and support each other in their development.  Many of these Peer Groups continue to meet years after the Academy is over.

In 2020, Triad Coaching Connection, an organization of local professionals in leadership and organizational development, partnered with the Consortium to provide 24 nonprofits with individualized coaching to help them navigate the early days of the pandemic and economic crisis. These professionals volunteered their skills and support to help local nonprofits keep the doors open in those early dark days.

One of the most valued Consortium programs is our Executive Director Roundtable Series.  This is a “closed door” meeting for the Executive Directors of nonprofits where they can safely and confidentially discuss the challenges they face in their day-to-day work.  Topics may include human resources issues, relationships between Directors and their Boards, financial management, and fundraising.  There may be no topic at all!  During the pandemic, many roundtables were just opportunities to check in with each other and offer mutual support.

The staff of the Consortium spend much of their time mentoring and supporting nonprofit professionals.  The Consortium Director met with 289 individuals from 136 different organizations in 2021.  They may have heard from Board Chairs asking, “How can I get this Board member to participate in meetings?”  From Executive Directors they heard, “How do I lead my organization through Strategic planning?” The young nonprofit professional asked, “Can you help me develop the skills I need to build my career?”  The most common request for help came from the committed community member who asked, “How do I start a nonprofit?  Should I?”

There is the old adage “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  This is the heart of the work of the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium.  We do indeed train people, but more importantly, we help build the relationships that make training work.  We help find that “Adult” that our nonprofits need to thrive.

Could you be an “Adult” for one of our local nonprofits?  Organizations that rescue animals, mentor youth, develop our economy, provide the Arts, feed the hungry, ensure affordable, safe housing, and many other causes need your support.  One of the best ways to share your talents is by serving on a nonprofit board.  The Consortium can help you find that nonprofit that needs your help and shares your values.  We will even offer you training on how to be an effective board member.

January is National Mentoring Month.  We usually associate mentoring with providing young people with personal, academic, or professional support.  This is important, but our nonprofit community needs those same supports.  Consider being an “Adult” for a nonprofit by offering your skills in accounting, human resources, events planning, fundraising, or any of the myriad of ways that you can help.  The Consortium can help you find that “right fit.” Contact us at guilfordnonprofits@gmail.com  and start building those relationships.

Steve Hayes, Director Guilford Nonprofit Consortium

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