We’ve been asking our mentees to share, in their own words, their experience of The Elischer Foundation’s mentoring programme. Here’s what Nick Sankey had to say…
Tell us a bit about yourself…
When I started the programme, I was Director of Fundraising at Pratham UK – I am now Executive Director. We are an unusual model though, all of our programmes work is driven by our Indian partner, the Pratham Education Foundation, one of the biggest education charities in India. We are purely here to advocate and fundraise for them in the UK and into Europe, so I lead that and the finance and governance elements of the organisation, too. Before I joined, we just focused on an annual gala and a small number of major gifts through our close network but did very little proactive fundraising. We do exceptional work at a phenomenal scale and are well known by the Indian diaspora in London, so my role is to professionalise the organisation and grow new fundraising streams. For a former teacher and Indophile it’s a dream role.
Why did you apply to become a mentee with The Elischer Foundation?
It was the first time in my career that I didn’t have a line manager to work with, and as Director of Fundraising, I was running income streams that neither the charity nor I had any real experience with, I’d largely focused on grants throughout my career. I hoped to find someone who could help me think through what else I needed to be doing.
How did your mentor support you during your time as a mentee?
I was matched with Emma who couldn’t have been a better fit, I read her profile on her charity and found she was a fellow parkrun addict. As a fundraiser and mentor she had vast experience and the ability to either get me to reflect to find the answer or just share her experience. It tided me over until I could begin to build out my team, where she was also a great help, we now have grants, philanthropy and special events at a reasonable scale and are working on corporate and individual giving now. When I left my previous charity, I had social capital by the bucketload but suddenly, here I had none and that knocked me a bit, Emma’s confidence in me helped me as I established myself here. She also pushed me to do something out of work and that resulted in my finally setting up a new parkrun I’d been thinking about for years in Woolwich, near where I live. I ran it for the first time on our fourth event when Emma came to visit. We also did one of our mentoring sessions running around Bansted Woods parkrun.
Were there any big ‘aha’ moments or great things that came out of your mentoring experience?
Besides how to set up a parkrun! At the start of the year, we were just coming out of covid and money hadn’t really picked up, I was a bit unsure what my future here would look like; I’d transformed grants income at my last charity and felt really down about income. Emma helped me look at the role as a change management role and just how much change I’d enacted; money had been the key thing all the way through my fundraising career and recognising that as a Director, other things mattered just as much was a massive revelation that I’d been blind to. Clearly, the foundations were right; she also supported me with early recruitment, now we’ve gone from a team of two to five and tripled our income in three years, but Emma’s help and encouragement through that phase was vital.
What was the best bit of advice your mentor gave you?
Emma told me not to try to run all the parkruns in London as they keep opening new ones.
What would you say to someone thinking about applying to The Elischer Foundation as a mentee?
It’s invaluable to have someone giving you advice who is only focused on you, your line manager is fundamentally about what’s good for the organisation. It really benefitted me and got me through a difficult period, the difference between where I was when I started the programme and where I finished it night and day, it wasn’t all down to Emma but she was a huge help. I miss our sessions.
If you are a fundraising leader who wants to develop their leadership skills then check out our programme here – the deadline for our 2024/25 mentoring programme is 23rd January 2024!