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Arizona Mentoring Program Creates Opportunities, Community for Beginning, Mid-level Fundraisers

July 17, 2005

(July 18, 2005) A complete overview of fundraising, an experienced mentor and a group of similarly minded colleagues are exactly what any new fundraiser needs, and that is exactly what the AFP Greater Arizona Chapter's Professional Mentoring Program provides.

The program, begun nearly a decade ago, brings together anywhere from 10 to 15 fundraisers with less than three years of experience in the profession. The participants take approximately 20 hours of classes together, discussing the development and implementation of a comprehensive annual fundraising campaign.

However, the program's main focus is having each participant complete a fundraising service project that focuses on a component of their own organization's annual fund effort. Each participant is assigned a mentor, an AFP chapter member with significant fundraising experience, who is available to help with the project and provide ideas, advice and feedback.

'One of the great aspects of the program is that, at the end, participants will have completed a project that will be valuable to the organization they work for,' says Robin Dunn, CFRE, chief fund development officer for UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix, and chair of the mentoring program in 2005. 'The program is not just curriculum taught in a classroom, but includes real-life, problem-solving opportunities, and that's invaluable for anyone new to the profession.'

Dunn also notes the relationships that are created between the participants and their mentors, as well as among the participants themselves. 'These relationships continue well beyond just the mentoring program,' Dunn says. 'I know several graduates of our very first program who still have lunch together fairly often and bounce ideas and challenges off of each other.'

Not Just for Beginners Either

The Greater Arizona Chapter also offers an Advanced Professional Mentoring Program for practitioners with three to five years of experience. This program is for individuals who have an interest in gaining knowledge and skills in a specific area of fundraising.

Participants provide a written goal statement of what they hope to accomplish through the program. Each participant and his or her mentor, a senior professional whose skills and experience match the needs of the participant, then create a curriculum and program project to fulfill the objectives in the written goal statement. Participants are required to meet or talk with their mentor at least eight hours per month.

Applicants for the advanced program are encouraged to be in the process of pursuing the CFRE certification and write an article for publication about their experience and project in the program.

'We realized that there are a number of mid-level practitioners who either haven't received a lot of continuing education, haven't focused on the CFRE yet or perhaps have been assigned a new responsibility with which they aren't familiar,' Dunn explains. 'The advanced program fits those needs very nicely, and the opportunity to network with a seasoned professional is tremendous.'

Organization Buy-In Required

Interested individuals must have the support of their employer (including the signature of their organization's executive director), as well as a brief written statement about why they want to be considered for either program.

The chapter charges $150 for both yearlong programs.

Graduates of both programs are recognized during the chapter's December luncheon, when participants typically put on a presentation and discuss their experiences and projects.

'We're extremely proud of the mentoring program and how it can open up a whole new world of opportunities for its participants,' says Frank Bourget, associate director of philanthropy for The Nature Conservancy of Arizona and president of the Greater Arizona Chapter. 'The chance to gain such good experience, plus work with a mentor, can really help people a lot.'

For more information about the AFP Greater Arizona Chapter's Professional Mentoring Program, go to the chapter's website.

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