Charity Mentors is a service operating under Oxfordshire Community Foundation’s umbrella to benefit local charitable organisations. A small team of experienced mentors, who have all been in the position of running organisations, use their skill to help charity leaders analyse current strategic challenges, and weigh up options for the best way forward.
As funding sources are cut and social problems require more and more attention, many small charities struggle just to stay afloat. Crucially, dealing with short-term crises can lead to these organisations spending more time trying to survive than carrying out the activities they were created for in the first place.
Charity Mentors administrator Roz Warren sees people grappling with these issues all the time. How do they know that they are making the best decisions? Have they thought about all the different options? Are there ideas, or models, that they don’t know about but that might be helpful or better than those that they are currently contemplating? Charity Mentors was founded by Marion Stevenson when she found herself involved in a charity grappling with the same questions.
With the help of Oxfordshire Community Foundation, Marion and Roz have created an efficient charitable entity that provides an invaluable service to local groups. Mentors from the local business community with relevant expertise in finance, strategy, research or marketing help groups to work towards specific, pre-agreed goals. OCF provides the infrastructure to cover Roz’s expenses and the cost of matching volunteers to groups, acting as an important and valued partner to Charity Mentors.
Since Charity Mentors started in 2013, they have worked with over 30 different voluntary organisations and charities, such as Talking Shop, a community hub and café in Sandford on Thames. Talking Shop’s Chair, Abi Johnson, said that the support given by Charity Mentors helped to keep individuals’ workloads manageable, give the group a sense of ownership over their work, and foster stronger leadership.
“Mentors work alongside charity leaders and managers to help resolve specific strategic issues. All of the mentors are volunteers and they bring with them substantial experience at senior leadership level.”
- Alliance of experienced professionals offering short-term pro-bono mentoring to charities
- Sharing of expertise, skill, goodwill and resources of local professionals and businesses
- Supporting community enterprises in Oxfordshire at critical moments
- Established infrastructure for back-office administration
- Oversight of ethical processes via OCF’s Charity Commission-endorsed governance