The space between sitting on a Board & writing a cheque

I think I’ve mentioned before that the school where I work has an alumni mentorship program, which is designed to facilitate the establishment of meaningful mentoring relationships between recent graduates and more experienced alumni, focused around career path advice, guidance on future educational development and professional growth. is about fundraising, but it’s also about philanthropy, which – although it’s frequently expressed as financial support – is the love of people; the love of humankind.  And this love can be expressed in a variety of ways.  Some people instinctively pull out their wallets, which is much appreciated, but others choose to show their support by giving their time and talent instead, and that’s a wonderful and necessary thing.

When I first started managing the mentorship program, I took some time to meet with mentors registered in the program to introduce myself and get a sense of the program’s climate at that time.  I met with one gentleman who said the following:

Participating in the mentorship program fits in the space between sitting on a Board and writing a cheque.  It’s not a huge commitment of time or money, but it gives you an opportunity to give back.

This man may have been capable of some donations here and there, and I believe he does donate, but maybe his larger philanthropic priorities fall elsewhere, so he chooses to give back to his alma mater in another way, as a mentor.

As fundraisers in our respective organizations, we need to find these ways for people to engage with us in whatever way they’re capable of/comfortable with.  Money isn’t the only way in, so it’s important to create these opportunities.  An engaged individual never hurt anyone, no matter how they choose to stay connected.


Written by Maeve Strathy

Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

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Speaking of mentorship, I recently presented on alumni mentorship programs at the CCAE  National Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  Check out the Storify story below to learn more about my experience:

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