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Ops & Asks

The Musings Of A Houston Fundraiser

  • Writer's pictureJuliana M. Weissbein CFRE

AFP-NYC's Revamped Mentorship Program

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

After a year of behind the scenes work, applications for the AFP-NYC Mentorship Cohort are launching this October.

There have likely been moments in your life where you’ve leaned on someone you trust for advice or assistance. Whether the person you turned to is a professor, friend, family member, or colleague, the importance of mentors is undeniable. These people can help to shape your present situation and future opportunities for the better. From making career decisions to fostering partnerships, a mentor can help you successfully navigate your fundraising journey.

I know the importance of mentorship first hand. I have had valuable mentors in the past and currently serve as a mentor for the Association Of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) at both the global and local levels. Then, when I was elected to the AFP-NYC board of directors in January 2020, I was tasked with chairing their Mentorship Program. I could not have been more excited.


The Background

Before I go further, I must acknowledge the work that occurred before 2020. I owe a debt of gratitude to AFP-NYC's outgoing board member, Cathy Sharp. She chaired their mentorship program for many years and I am fortunate to have inherited a robust and dedicated program and committee of volunteers.

During the hand-off, Cathy and I discussed the elements of the program that were strong and the areas that needed further growth. After surveying past program participants, interviewing countless other AFP chapters, and speaking to committee volunteers, the elements were reiterated.

After the feedback data was analyzed, the committee developed a plan to enhance the chapter’s mentoring program and provide more meaningful engagements for both mentors and mentees moving forward.  We affirmed that the mentorship program would benefit from three things: a more customized mentor/mentee pairing process, the intentional incorporation of the IDEA values into the process, and a more structured and resourced program.

Not only did we strive to match mentees with skilled mentors, but we also wanted to set participants up for success and allow them to bring their whole selves to the program. Thus, the AFP-NYC Mentorship program was temporarily shut down and the committee got to work.


The Launch

I am thrilled to collaborate with my fellow committee members on the Mentorship Program's relaunch. I am confident this recalibration will offer AFP-NYC chapter members an opportunity to develop as professionals and will result in a robust cohort of consummate professionals better prepared to tackle our city’s greatest challenges.

I am so thankful to them for their hard work behind the scenes. Since January, we have met diligently every four weeks to chip away at the work. They have shown up, provided thoughtful feedback, and worked tirelessly in the hopes of delivering a quality program to AFP-NYC members. Here are some of the key changes that you can look forward to from the chapter’s mentoring program:

  • Cohort Model: Rather than one-off matching, the program will now function on an annual basis. Interested participants (both prospective mentees and mentors) will be required to fill out an application identifying their professional goals and skills. From there, the committee will utilize a standardized scoring mechanism to select an annual cohort of ten mentee/mentor pairings each calendar year. Furthermore, to ensure that all AFP-NYC members are able to receive mentorship, our committee will also be hosting quarterly speed mentoring events throughout the year. Stay tuned for more information!

  • Enhanced & Customized Matching: The success of this program hinges on our ability to recruit dynamic mentor and mentee candidates. We have designed our application to address five critical questions: 1. Are prospective mentee’s professional goals clearly enumerated, well thought out, realistic and achievable in a one-year term? 2. Are the particular challenges the prospective mentee is seeking to overcome and/or the professional development they are hoping to receive clearly enumerated, well thought out, realistic and achievable in a one-year term? 3. Does the prospective mentee bring unique characteristics, strengths or skills to the cohort? 4. Has the prospective mentee demonstrated a commitment to the profession, professional development, and AFP engagement? 5. Does the prospective mentee bring aspects of demographic diversity to the 2021 cohort? Based on these answers, we select our ten mentees and match them with seasoned fundraisers who are uniquely qualified to meet their needs.

  • Infusion of IDEA: AFP-NYC affirms that systemic and institutionalized inequities permeate every corner of our industry. To help combat this, we have added space to our application to allow prospective mentees to enumerate various demographic criteria they are seeking in a mentor. We believe that the experience is strengthened when a mentor shares an identity with or has faced similar challenges as their mentee. Furthermore, our program is committed to providing professional development opportunities to members of the fundraising industry who have been historically underrepresented and may benefit from our program in compounded ways.

  • Program Benefits: In addition to knowledge and professional experience, participants will be offered the following benefits while completing the program: 1. A personalized matching with a seasoned fundraiser. 2. A twelve-month formal program to work on self-selected professional development goals. 3. An opportunity to author an article for Fundraising Matters, AFP-NYS's biweekly newsletter. 4. An exclusive meet & greet with AFP-NYC board members. 5. An opportunity to create a micro-learning video to be released on social media. 6. Lifetime access to a private LinkedIn group of all past program participants. 7. Spotlights on social media and recognition at AFP-NYC signature events.

  • Structure & Resources: Throughout the year, the cohort will gather to check-in on each other's progress, cross-collaborate to solve common problems, discuss current events, and provide each other with feedback. Additionally, individual sessions with mentors will be resourced with suggested monthly objectives. Finally, each pairing will be matched with a Mentorship Program Steward (a member of the Mentorship Committee), who will check-in, be available for questions, and guide participants through the year.


How To Get Involved

I am sure you may have questions about the program’s format, level of commitment, and other factors before applying in October. I welcome you to join us at one of our information sessions on Wednesday, September 23rd, from 11 am to noon, OR Thursday, October 8th, from 6 to 7 pm, to learn more about the program and to meet what we expect will be a pool of talented and promising mentees who are seeking professional guidance.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions. On behalf of the entire AFP-NYC Mentorship Committee, I thank you for your support and hope to see you there!


Juliana M. Weissbein, CFRE is a respected leader and decision influencer in regard to fundraising operations best practices. With over a decade of experience, Juliana thrives on professional growth, team success, measurable results, and inspiring fundraisers to utilize data-based strategies. Juliana currently serves as the Associate Director of Development Operations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is an AFP Global Board Member, AFP Global's 2019 Outstanding Young Professional Fundraiser and is a member of the AFP Global Women's Impact Initiative. Juliana is immediate past chair of the AFP New York City chapter’s Emerging Leaders Committee and currently serves on the chapter’s board chairing their mentorship program. She resides in Houston, TX and never turns down a good kombucha.


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