Mentoring Program Guidelines

The purpose of the mentoring program is to match experienced development professionals with those seeking guidance to promote career growth, enhance their development experience or identify a resource for general advice.

Click here to complete the mentee application.

While this advice is specific to the field of development, your conversations with your mentor may include other topics, such work life balance, changing career paths or engaging with AFP St. Louis chapter.

Some general suggestions:

  • Ask for advice and welcome constructive criticism. Often, people are hesitant to offer advice when they do not know you very well. Be as specific as possible when asking for advice. For example, instead of asking what goes on at an event, it would be more beneficial to know whether you are asking about conducting prospect research before the event or whether you want to know when/how to enlist volunteers at some point. A good mentor will offer both constructive criticism and suggestions for your work, so be open to both.

  • Be considerate of your mentor’s time. Mentors are by definition more established in their careers. However, they have chosen to participate in this program and to be your mentor. You can expect quality time from them, but, in return, you need to be considerate of their time. Return phone calls and emails promptly and be on time. Be sure to ask how much time your mentor has to spend with you and abide by that request. You might discuss setting aside a particular time every few weeks to talk. Having a regular schedule for meetings gives you time to prepare your questions and ensures your mentor is available.

  • Seriously consider the advice given to you by your mentor, even if your immediate reaction is not positive. A mentor seldom offers advice or criticism lightly. It’s very reasonable to ask for time to consider advice and then to get back to him/her with your response. While you certainly don’t have to follow the advice, remember that he/she does have experience and skills that you haven’t mastered yet.

  • Make only positive or neutral comments about your mentor to others. If, after a period of time, you don’t believe that your mentoring relationship is proving effective, then don’t be averse to discussing this with your mentor and possibly ending the relationship. If you determine that the relationship should end, conclude it on professional terms. It is no reflection on either of you if a particular pair isn’t suitable.

  • Keep the door open with your mentor. Show appreciation for assistance given to you, too. Let your mentor know how advice worked for your situation. You want to establish a respected professional relationship, as you may need some good advice again in the future.

Potential Pitfalls

  • Limited time—Experience has shown that finding the time and energy for a mentor and mentee to get together is a great obstacle. Take advantage of email, the telephone, etc. as ways of staying in touch. Social media may also make it easier to interact.

  • Lack of knowledge and skills—After a mentor has accepted the role, he or she may discover there is no common ground as expected or that the mentee wants assistance in an area in which the mentor does not feel particularly competent to advise.  In this situation, the mentor can either contact someone else or assist his/her mentee in locating others who can be of more help.

  • Over-dependence—Over-dependence can go in either direction in a mentoring relationship. It is not wise to become over-dependent on your mentor. It should be everyone’s goal to grow professionally within the parameters of the agreed term.   It is valuable for the former mentee to have someone to contact for advice in the future.


Periodically during the agreed commitment period, mentors and mentees will be asked to evaluate their mentoring match and experience. The AFP St. Louis Chapter Mentoring Committee uses this information to track successes and the mentoring program, as a whole. We appreciate your involvement in the mentoring program and your input to promote its continued success.