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Giving back to PT – Grace Taylor

News Story: Giving back to PT – Grace Taylor

“This year marks 12 years since I returned from Chile on my gap year spent with Project Trust. Last year, early in 2021, I decided that I would like to give back to the organization which had taught me a great deal. Project Trust reached out to the alumni network in late 2020 with a call to action for the mentorship initiative. I have previously been a mentor for other youth organizations in which mentoring has taught me many things and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge to practice my people management skills and coaching abilities. We went through a series of workshops facilitated by the wonderful team at Project Trust before embarking on our own journey and I would encourage all my peers to accept the opportunity that mentoring can provide.

The choice seemed like a natural one given my then role at my company, where I was working at that time as a Knowledge & Learning Lead. I was mentoring 6 graduates on their learning pathways and providing an arena for knowledge sharing across the organization.

Over the course of my mentoring tenure at Project Trust, I have been paired with four young women in their fundraising journeys prior to departing overseas this coming August. As with any coaching relationship, it is down to the dynamics of the individuals to determine the best way of working together. For example, I have learnt to employ emotional intelligence when communicating and to understand the context of each conversation. Given the busy nature of the volunteers’ lives (it is not easy to juggle studying for A-levels whilst fundraising) it is sometimes more important that I play an active listening role as opposed to proactively offering an opinion.

One thing that I have been surprised to find myself enjoying is the creative process we have been through together. How I usually like to start any mentoring relationship is getting to know the individual, understanding what they are passionate about and beginning to brainstorm unique fundraising ideas. The important reason being that every volunteer will bring something different to their efforts and there is no one size fits all solution. It is important that the volunteers appreciate the value they can bring by being their authentic selves.

Having spoken to Abbie, one of my mentees, she provided the following testimonial “Mentoring has been a great help for my fundraising. Its amazing to know that I have the support of someone who has previously volunteered with project trust and knows the process of everything. My mentor Grace has helped me think of ideas to fundraise that are most suited for me which makes it even more fun! For anyone that volunteers with Project Trust, I would highly recommend agreeing to have a project mentor; although they may not have gone to your chosen country, the fundraising process is the same and they will be there to support you in any way they can. This may not be just for the fundraising aspect, they will happily talk about different aspects such as the training and travel side of things, this also gives them the chance to share their experiences as well. You can also keep in touch during your project placement so they can see how their support has helped!”

In retrospect, the one part of my Project Trust experience that I enjoyed the most was the fundraising effort, purely because it was a chance to build something from scratch. This entrepreneurial mindset has since played out in my professional career where I have worked on several start-ups and accelerators. I am excited to pay forward my learnings and would be happy to help others in their mentorship journey.”

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