Benefits of Peer Mentoring: Informational Interviews

Sarah A. Danahy, CFRE

Last month, we covered how to leverage your mentor’s network to make new connections. But once you have secured a sit down with another non-profit professional, it’s up to you to plan for the ideal informational interview.
Here are some tips on how to utilize everyone’s time to the fullest and make a fantastic impression:

1. Prepare

  • When asking for the interview, assure your new contact that you will limit your interview to 30 minutes – and keep this in mind when planning your questions.
  • Research the person you are interviewing in terms of their career and their current job.
  • Plan 3-5 questions that are specific to your contact, their organization, and their expertise.
  • Check in with your mentor! They can help you brainstorm other questions, or even practice in advance.
  • If it seems appropriate, provide the questions you intend to ask ahead of the visit so the person you are interviewing can also prepare.

2. Meet

  • Like with any interview, ensure you arrive to your meeting spot with time to spare.
  • Succinctly explain your background and goals. The focus should not be on you, but the person you are meeting needs to understand your objectives. 
  • Work through your questions and be mindful of your allotted time.
  • Wrap up with these two requests:
    •  Do you have any recommendations for other people I should talk to or other resources I should explore?
    • Would it be alright for us to stay in touch?

3. Follow-Up

  • Always, always, always write a hand written thank you note following the visit.
  • Make sure to stay in touch if you asked if you could! Be proactive and set a calendar reminder on your phone for one or three months.
  • Post-game with your mentor. Together you can review what you learned, discuss any recommendations you may have received, and formulate your next move.


Interested in partnering with a mentor or protégé? AFP Chicago’s Peer Mentoring program pairs seasoned fundraisers with protégés (fundraising professionals with less than 5 years of experience) for a year-long mentorship. The application deadline for the Fall 2018 Class is September 28. To learn more about the benefits of the Peer Mentoring Program or to complete an application, click here.

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