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Mentoring Interview
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An Interview: How Has the Mentoring Program Helped You? 

PGGNE board member Alleather Toure, interviewed PGGNE Members and Mentoring Program participants Jenna Gomes and Erin McKenna. Alleather asked how the program has helped Jenna and Erin cultivate a professional peer mentoring relationship.


Jenna Gomes

Erin McKenna

PGGNE:  The two of you were in the Mentoring Program last year (2014-15) and decided to participate again this year (2015-16). Let’s go back to year one for a moment. Jenna, what were you hoping for when you asked for a mentor?

Jenna Gomes:  As someone relatively new to planned giving and hired to start a program at an organization with no institutional knowledge about planned giving, I was hoping to be partnered with someone who could give me advice about shaping the program overall and help me with issues as they came up. Erin is very knowledgeable and can share information from a large shop that is beneficial to someone in a very small shop.

PGGNE:  Erin, had you been a PGGNE mentor before?  

Erin McKenna:  No but I had a mentor, Grant Whitney, that was very helpful to me when I first started in Planned Giving. Once I had more experience I decided to sign up to become a mentor.

PGGNE:  Erin, what were your expectations for yourself and your mentee?

Erin:  To learn from each other. We have a very large Development shop at Dana-Farber and Jenna works in a smaller shop so I think we both benefit from hearing each other's perspectives on how we prioritize our work and our resources. It is great to have someone outside of your organization to bounce ideas off and seek advice from.

PGGNE: Jenna, you are a more seasoned PG professional today so how have your expectations changed this year?

Jenna: Yes I find myself reaching out to Erin for more specific policy questions now. As we are having more success with planned giving my questions have changed. I have greatly benefited from Erin’s experience at two major institutions with a long history of planned giving. Whether we are talking about event planning or direct mail messaging, Erin’s advice is very valuable.

PGGNE: Jenna, what was the most useful help you received from Erin, in either year?

Jenna: We are in the middle of a capital campaign and were notified of a bequest. We did not know how to handle the gift so Erin gave me examples of policies and let me know what we can and cannot do regarding the bequest. Being able to draw from the experience of other institutions and having Erin there to be responsive and generous has been a tremendous help to my organization.

PGGNE: Erin, what have you learned from Jenna?

Erin: Every time Jenna has asked me a question, it has made me think about the way things are done at DFCI and what our best practices are and how they might be improved. It is great to think about things that may not have come up yet for us but likely will at some point.

PGGNE: How often do you find yourselves communicating?

Both: We get together for coffee every few months and email or call if something comes up in between. We may have communicated a little more frequently the first year.

PGGNE: Is there any advice you would offer if someone was on the fence about whether to ask for/become a mentor?

Jenna: I would say they should definitely ask for a mentor. Having someone there to help you who has more experience and knowledge is so beneficial… and you might just make a new friend.

Erin: Just do it! One of the best things about PGGNE is the networking and relationships you build. Once you have been in Planned Giving for a number of years you accrue a lot of knowledge that you might not even realize you have! In our world we are constantly learning and working on gifts with unique issues and challenges so we always need to adapt our way of thinking based on different sets of circumstances. Being a PGGNE mentor helps with this because you get to help others problem solve as well! It is also always great to meet new people especially that you may not have come into contact with otherwise.

PGGNE: Thank you!


To learn more about the Mentoring program, click here.
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