Mentoring is not a one-way relationship. It is a partnership between two individuals where both the mentor and the mentee can learn and grow. The mentor shares their knowledge and expertise while the mentee learns from the mentor’s experience and develops new skills.
Mentoring is invalauble to not-for-profit leaders. “Being a CEO is lonely everywhere. But to have someone who can provide feedback about how your Board or your management team might react is so valuable—it gives an extra point of reference you might not otherwise have,” says Marie McDonald, Kilfinan Australia Mentor, Non-Executive Director.
This year Kilfinan Australia and the Australian Scholarships Foundation are offering 10 mentorships to senior or aspiring not-for-profit executives to be mentored by a senior corporate executive, to support personal growth, while improving cross sectoral understanding.
Ali Ahmed, CEO, Youth Activating Youth and Greg Evans, Kilfinan Mentor have been meeting for the last three years, and all the way through the COVID pandemic. Greg has had a career leading large consumer products, multinationals, and running his own businesses.
Ali shares, “Greg was impartial and helped me look at situations differently. He wasn’t part of the non-profit space. He gave me independent senior-level advice and taught me to see relationships differently.
He encouraged me to approach issues in a business-like way. It changed my perspective and
reframed my views on situations, which goes a long way. Ultimately, he helped me to think more
creatively, which increased the organisation’s impact. It was a game- changer for me. It gave me an
Help bridge gaps to support a growing organisation
Ally Kelly is the founder and CEO of Mind Blank, an award-winning mental health charity that advocates for suicide prevention and early intervention strategies. Since founding the organisation, Ally has successfully grown it from a grassroots community organisation to a well-established and respected resource.
Ally was in her early 20s and had limited business experience when she founded her charity. As a young leader, Ally’s mentoring needs and focus evolved over time. In the last few years she has been matched with two different Kilfinan mentors. The first helped her bridge some of her capability gaps as she was growing the organisation.
Ally says, “It was great to have the support from a mentor who had experience in the real world – that top
tier perspective as well as operational knowledge. My mentor was able to break it down for me and translate things into action. Being a young person in business, you don’t always have the back-end
knowledge that this happens to a lot of businesses. Sometimes the pain points were just really simple things.”
Building skills to engage better with board members
Adam Hegedus is a ASF alumni and the Co-Founder and Managing Director (MD) of Educating the
Future, an international, youth-run, social purpose organisation building pre-schools in Timor-Leste. In its first six years, the organisation constructed five schools, educated 500 children and has ambitious
plans for growth.
Working with a Board was new territory for Adam. Working with his Kilfinan mentor they concentrated on how to develop the Board, improve engagement, and build an effective relationship. Adam successfully
recruited directors to the Board using a Board skills matrix and information pack for new directors he developed with his mentor’s very practical input.
Together, they identified key risks, developed mitigation plans, and his mentor provided helpful templates for Adam to customise. This foundational work helped resolve a critical risk: Adam’s organisation relies solely on volunteers. His mentor helped him unpack this challenge and build a sustainable volunteer pipeline.
Adam says, “My mentorship came at a time when we first received Australian government funding, and I worked with my mentor to build our risk management, policies, governance, and Board skills, along with the effectiveness of our committees. The flow-on effect from this meant that our organisation became more accountable and resilient, and ultimately delivered our program on-time and on-budget with complete adherence to our organisational policies and Australian regulation.”
After working together for two years, Adam and his mentor wrapped up their formal relationship but have maintained a dialogue about issues they worked on together.
Mentoring is a powerful tool for leaders who want to grow their skills and develop their potential. It offers a safe and supportive environment for leaders to learn and grow, helps leaders to build a network of contacts and resources, provides a different perspective, and enhances leadership effectiveness. By working with a mentor, leaders can develop new skills, improve their leadership abilities, and achieve their full potential.
“The social purpose sector is fortunate to have some of Australia’s best talent, though unfortunately, much of this potential remains untapped. Kilfinan is deeply invested in enabling the sector’s purpose-driven leaders to grow, achieve, and thrive, now and into the future,” says Beth Weatherly, CEO, Kilfinan Austalia.
Kilfinan Australian and the Australian Scholarships Foundation are offering 10 mentorships in 2023. Each scholarship includes bespoke matching with an experienced corporate executive mentor with two years of mentoring support, plus access to Kilfinan Australia’s Thought Leadership Roundtable, and other mentee events.
Applications close Friday, 3 March. Read full details of the Kilfinan Australia Not-For-Profit Mentorship Scholarships here.