Dave Moore, Lloyds Banking Group Relationship Director for SME Banking (Leeds) and charity mentor, writes about the value of mentoring, why he does it and how it can benefit small and local charities for National Mentoring Day. Read his blog below:
Mentoring – really? How could this possibly help me and my charity?
That’s a fair question. Before I became a mentor specifically supporting charities, I had already undertaken training to develop my mentoring skills to support entrepreneurs here in West Yorkshire.
The entrepreneurs were often starting a fledgling business with terrific ideas and enthusiasm but with limited budgets to spend on much-needed guidance and commercial expertise. Nonetheless, they had a huge thirst and hunger for knowledge that could help take them to the next step on their business ladder to success.
Having spent some 40 years in the financial world learning how to support business owners to grow and develop their people and systems, I have found mentoring to be a very natural extension of what is my normal working day.
So how did I get involved in mentoring charities? I was asked by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales if I would be interested in mentoring a small number of charities that were awarded grant funding. Lloyds Bank Foundation provides much-needed grants to support small and local charities and believed that the experience of our Lloyds Bank Managers could also be vital in helping charities maximise the value of the grants awarded. Charities indicate to the Lloyds Bank Foundation that they would be interested in exploring how a mentor may be able to support their senior team (often the charity’s director). It’s then up to us to see how we can help these charities grow and thrive.
I remember my first introduction to a Leeds-based charity supporting victims of domestic abuse. I met with their director and was amazed and delighted to see many of the challenges the charity faced were so similar to those I saw and heard about every day in the small and medium-sized enterprise and business world I worked in.
At the beginning I met with the charity’s director face to face every month, discussing many topics including the effectiveness of the board (or more accurately the need for the board to be even more effective) and often matters that had a financial aspect. For example, should the charity invest in a particular project or how should the charity adapt to the changing economic backdrop.
As a mentor, we’re not a coach but rather someone that can provide an unbiased view based on their experience to help guide and be a critical friend at times. We listen, support, challenge, suggest and introduce the charity to a wider network when appropriate. By doing this, I believe we can help shorten the time a charity takes to make critical decisions while potentially gaining a broader perspective to help with their decision-making process.
In summary, an introduction to a Lloyds Bank Foundation mentor can lead to a life-long confidante for the organisation’s director and, in my case, a permanent Trustee! Being a mentor is hugely rewarding, challenging in a good way and very occasionally frustrating. But most of all, I feel as though I am giving something back to the local community and making a difference to fantastic causes at the same time. It’s definitely a win for all parties.