Varchasvi Shankar is President and CEO of iConnectX, as well as an IT entrepreneur who has built V2Soft into a multi-million-dollar, global operation serving Fortune 500 companies. He grew up in Mysore in the state of Karnataka, India.

“My hope is that we will soon swap out the lens in which we use to view names of applicants, candidates, and students so that we are just as comfortable in meeting Iyano, Bahati, and Fabien as we are meeting Anna, Bethany, and Frank.” – Huda Essa, TEDx Speaker, Author, and Cultural Consultant.

As someone with an unfamiliar name for the vast majority of Americans, I am inspired by this vision that Huda Essa holds. It reminds me of the challenges I faced in starting my business as an Indian entrepreneur in the U.S., but also the challenge we all face in making a first impression. It starts with our name.

For example, your name is the place where your professional networking begins. After all, how do we start a professional networking conversation? Usually with some form of: “Hi. My name is….”

I bring up the challenge of the first impression, because I recently participated in a panel hosted by Corp! magazine as part of its Diversity Awards Salute event. Each year, Corp! honors Michigan-based businesses who have demonstrated leadership in creating a more diverse workforce and cultivating a culture of inclusion.

I was among a group of executives and entrepreneurs who were asked to speak about the issue of diversity and inclusion from two perspectives. First, how do executives and entrepreneurs incorporate inclusion into the DNA of their businesses? Second, how do professionals of any background—especially women, minorities, and disabled people—find the support and advice from experts who can help them move their careers forward?

Here are some insights I took away from the discussion.

Diversity should be treated like water. As an IT professional, I see the world through data. Around the issue of diversity, the data is simple.

Writ Large, diversity is akin to the water that wraps around our planet. Three-quarters of Earth is made up of water. So to, three-quarters of the world is made up of people who don’t have names like Anna, Bethany, or Frank. If I ignore the talent market that comprises the vast majority of professionals, I’m ignoring data that is critical to the success of my business. The McKinsey Company—which has done extensive research on diversity in the workplace—puts a finer point on this fact:

“Drawing from a narrow talent pool leaves money, innovative ideas, and star employees on the table.”

At the Corp! Magazine event, I joined my fellow entrepreneurs and executives in encouraging this view of diversity—it’s just good for business. I also urge executives to make themselves available as mentors and experts to women, minorities, and people with disabilities, because their businesses will greatly benefit.

One way to do that is through iConnectX. We offer a way to create a culture of diversity through generosity. When you give your time as a mentor on iConnectX, you are not just helping professionals from many different backgrounds. You are helping the charities and causes that you care about—which in turn serve people from many different backgrounds.

Seek out formal support structures. Even so, it’s not easy for professionals who are “different” to find support, whether from a supervisor, a peer, or a mentor—even if their employer offers networking and mentoring opportunities. As important as these programs are, it can be hard to make the connection with a mentor who comes from an entirely different background. What’s more, these programs aren’t much help if you are thinking about switching careers outside your current industry.

Yet there are organizations and formal networks aimed at supporting professionals who find it hard to benefit from traditional networking and mentoring.

For me, the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) provided many opportunities to meet with much bigger companies than my own and establish relationships. That’s why I would advise women, minorities, and disabled people to find similar organizations with a mission of helping to open doors.

Look beyond difference to find common challenges. While our unique experiences make us who we are, it’s an easy default to focus on them in any conversation. I’ve found that in business, looking for common challenges creates connection and opportunity.

Entrepreneurs as a whole, for example, face a host of hurdles that don’t change based on our names, our gender, our skin color, or what we wear. We start off strapped for resources, struggling to build trust around our products, and seeking to expand professional networks that help our businesses grow.

So I believe starting a conversation around challenges when networking is easy and effective. It can be as simple as asking: “Have you faced this challenge?” or “What challenges have you overcome?”

Find common ground beyond the workplace. We all get trapped in a box when trying to build professional connections—whether online or in person. We focus on what we do and what our work experience is. When we don’t share more about ourselves, we’re not bridging the divide of difference. We can inadvertently fall into stereotypes.

That’s why it’s important to remember that we are more than our resume or our LinkedIn profile. I encourage any professional to look for ways to network beyond the workplace. Of course, the challenge is finding the time with a busy family life or if you simply hate networking events.

I suggest to you that the connection that can be the most impactful is the one made around what you are most passionate about. Many professionals—across industries and at every level—are passionate about giving back to their communities.

I’m one of those professionals. Giving back by helping to organize and attend fundraising events is fulfilling and fun. Philanthropy creates meaningful social interaction that enables me to present a different side of myself to other professionals.

Indeed, a fundraising event can be an expert marketplace like no other, especially since it’s made up of a community of people who are naturally generous.

One of the great advances in our technical age is that you can be philanthropic in a multitude of ways, even at your desktop. For many professionals, a digital peer-to-peer fundraiser is a terrific opportunity to show a different side of yourself to your colleagues, especially if you face physical challenges or if you feel challenged as a woman or person of color.

The iConnectX team—along with myself and V2Soft—are on a personal mission to build a community of giving-minded professionals. What does that mean for diversity and inclusion? It means that there is only one lens in which we look at one another—our shared dedication to supporting charities and causes.

Within such a community, the conversation doesn’t start with your name or your job title. It starts with the cause that you care about.

Coaching and mentoring are often used and interpreted interchangeably, especially in business contexts. However, there exists a difference between the two. It is important to note and be aware of this difference in order to enable organizations and individuals to rightly choose between the two. Depending on a case to case basis, effective decision making can be highly beneficial in employing a more effective strategy for personal or professional development.

Mentor:

A mentor is someone who uses his/her skills, expertise, knowledge and offers advice to those under their wing. By drawing from their own skills and experience, mentors are able to guide mentees in the right direction.

Coach:

A coach focuses on developing specific skills and achieving and meeting set goals. Larger goals are broken into smaller ones with specific deadlines. There is clarity in terms of specific tasks, and this enables people to effectively guide business visions.

It is important to note the reasons that coaching, and mentoring are used interchangeably. This is because of several similarities between the two. The main professional skills employed by a coach or mentor are largely similar; listening, questioning, feedback, explicit goal setting, building trust and action planning. In either case, the coach or mentor must be focused on issues that are important to the individual. The content emphasized must be based on the needs of the client/mentee.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

However, it is important to notice the more nuanced points of coaching and mentoring.

Differences between coaching and mentoring:

    1. Task versus relationship orientation

Coaching focuses on specific tasks. The focus is on concrete skills and issues such as managing more effectively or learning to speak articulately. Mentoring, however, is more relationship oriented. It provides an environment wherein the mentee shares whatever is hindering their own development. Specific tasks may be employed in developing the relationship. But, a mentor focuses on more holistic goals such as an overall work/life balance or personal barriers to success.

    1. Duration

Coaching tends to be short term. Since coaching is goal driven, the relationship is not long term. After the achievement of the particular goal or task, the relationship ceases. Mentoring on the other hand, is more long term. It requires time as the relationship is more personal and time is needed to develop trust. The mentee must feel comfortable sharing issues impacting their success.

  1. Performance versus development

A coach’s focus lies on performance. The main goal of a coach is to improve the individual’s performance on the job and ensure its successful completion. It depends on enhancing skills or developing new ones. Once this task is completed, the coach is no longer required. A mentor, however, focuses on developing an individual for the future. There is a distinction between the individual’s manager and their mentor.

“A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions.” – Unknown

Simply put, in order to coach it is necessary that the coach have the skills that need development and the expertise to ensure the development. Mentoring skills must exceed well beyond this and must include the ability to cultivate a personal relationship and earn the other person’s trust.

Coaching is, therefore, of different types for different reasons. The type of coach is also important depending on the purpose of the coaching. Life coaches and business coaches are distinct. A life coach is more focused on developing the more personal aspects of one’s life. A business coach is often the coaches in organizations who are assigned to train younger individuals to harness their skills to meet development goals.

There are several reasons that coaching, or mentoring are beneficial to organizations and individuals. The specified focus helps develop skills or the individual’s personality better than most other methods.

The main benefits of coaching or mentoring include:

  • Clearly define and work towards achieving goals
  • Allows clients/mentees to become more self-reliant
  • Leads to higher professional and personal satisfaction
  • Allows one to more greatly contribute to the organization as a whole
  • It makes those involved more responsible and accountable for actions and commitments
  • Creates an environment to more easily and productively work and engage with others (boss, direct reports, peers)
  • Improves communication

Mentoring and coaching in the workplace have been extremely beneficial to organizations as well. It focuses on an all-round development of the individual, improving performance. It also creates an environment in which individuals are more focused and engaged with organizational goals.

The main benefits of coaching or mentoring in the workplace include:

  • Empowering individuals and encouraging them to take responsibility
  • Increasing engagement at an employee and staff level
  • Improving performance of specific individuals which boosts overall company performance
  • Helps recognize and improve employees with high potential
  • Helps ascertain the organization’s as well as individual strengths and cultivates development opportunities
  • Serves to encourage and boost individuals to excel

“The [best] coaches… know that the job is to win… know that they must be decisive, that they must phase people through their organizations, and at the same time they are sensitive to the feelings, loyalties, and emotions that people have toward one another. If you don’t have these feelings, I do not know how you can lead anyone. I wasn’t hired to do anything but win.” – Bill Walsh, Coach of American Football

The main purpose of coaching or mentoring is to improve the individual’s life in a professional or personal environment. It allows individuals to excel and achieve greater heights. It allows individuals to build a positive and concrete change in themselves. It allows for the transfer of knowledge from the coach/mentor to the individual. In terms of the workplace, coaching or mentoring allows career growth.

Wrapping Up

Coaching or mentoring is beneficial to both or all individuals engaged in it. It allows for a great degree of personal or professional growth. Coaching may be better suited to cases wherein a particular skill is to be developed or a specified goal must be achieved. Mentoring allows individuals the opportunity to grow and excel in all facets of their life and improves overall performance. When meeting short term goals, coaching is better suited. However, for more lasting change, mentor relationships prove to be more beneficial.

Find your mentor or become a mentor on iConnectX.com! Find available industry experts or executives in your industry, buy their time for mentorship or coaching through a donation to their favorite cause. Register now at www.iconnectx.com.

Randy Lewis, the author of ‘No Greatness Without Goodness,’ states that all people, including companies, have the duty to make the world a better place. He began a movement that pushed Walgreens to hire differently abled people.

It is important to do charity and to give back to people from different places and backgrounds. In 2011, Foresters conducted a survey that revealed that 90% of people donate in money. However, this is the time when people started making a shift. Not everyone can afford to donate money. People are finding other ways to give back to the community. Charities accept much more than money. One of the best things people can do is to choose to donate time to charities. Doing actual volunteer work can help a lot of charities and the people they work with. It is important to remember that donating can extend beyond cash and giving time helps with the actual logistics of a charity.

There are several charities, to begin with if one wishes to donate time. The websites of different charities often highlight their volunteering options and can make it easier for one to donate. Besides those websites, people sometimes go through research organizations such as do-it and Volunteering England. Organizations such as these often help people from various places donate to charities of their choice and make donations beyond money.

How do I begin?

Often people are confused about how exactly they can donate to charity. Often, charities themselves explain how to donate to charity. The research organizations also help volunteers realize this. Sometimes, it helps when organizations offer paid time off for volunteering. This allows employees under their systems to engage in charitable acts without fearing a lack of income or facing undue pressure at work. High school students and college graduates can easily find help in learning how to donate to charity through several websites and portals that make the process easier. The process of donating to charity has become easier and more accessible to more numbers of people.

There are several ways to give. Sometimes people choose to donate to charity individually and directly. Other times, they go through organizations or pool resources with family members to make sure a sizable contribution is donated. This also inspires others to start giving back to causes they are concerned about.

What can I give to charity?

Apart from money, there are many things one can do to give back to the community. The survey by Foresters found that 57% of people choose to donate their old items, while 43% like to volunteer their time.

Donate your time

This is an extremely undervalued but highly useful donation. Charities often need extra help and volunteers to make sure they can get help and aid to those who most need it. Whether it is logistical work or on-the-ground tasks, charities can use a volunteer’s time to ensure smooth functioning.

There are several ways to volunteer your time to charity. It can be organizational and logistical help or hands-on ground level work. Often, one must make the charitable organization aware of their skills and the organization can find a role best suited to one’s skill set and interest.

It is also important to understand how to donate your time to charity. One must identify charities that they would be willing to work for. These are usually charities that work in line with one’s interests and causes that the volunteer is sensitive to. Quantifying and qualifying what one can offer allows the organization to assign a volunteer role that you can fulfill. Be clear in stating how long the commitment you are making would be and what skills you have to offer. If there are tasks you are unwilling to do, it is better to state this at the onset. After this, if you commit, you must honor it.

Donate old items

It is important when making donations to ensure that you understand what items are really needed by people in need. Often, people donate old clothes and books. But it is very important to understand that people require a lot more than this. Donations such as basic hygiene products, toilet paper, pads and tampons, first aid kits, diapers, socks, blankets, school supplies, old phones and old cycles, sturdy bags and other items of daily use can really make a difference when given to the right charity.

Give blood

Blood can save lives. Most people in good health can donate blood. Blood banks are often short on blood. In cases of accidents or chronic illnesses such as leukemia having the right blood at the right time can make all the difference. Donating blood is easy, and most places have blood banks that function and accept donations throughout the year. Blood drives are conducted in many places and are frequent. This also allows people to easily donate their blood.

Become an organ donor

Only 29% of people in the USA have registered to become organ donors. Like blood, organs can often help people live better and fuller lives. Registering is a simple process and upon your death, several people can benefit from donated organs. It can allow a blind person to see or other people to gain vital organs such as kidneys.

Vote

Organizations that work with charities often make donations to charities if a member takes part in their annual general meeting.

Record books for the blind and visually impaired

Often, people, those with an inability to see are extremely appreciative when people do this. An audio recording allows more people to enjoy a story. The audiobook charity Caliber uses over 80 volunteers to make available books that are not commercially available in audiobook formats.

Donate old electronics

Donating old computers and cell phones can make a huge difference. Computers for Charities has recycled over 25000 used computers and donated them in over 105 countries. These resources are extremely useful as donations to schools. They can also help immensely when donations are made to those who need these devices for personal use.

Donating at times of crisis

During natural disasters, help often comes pouring in. However, this is usually not enough. People do not always donate what is most needed and donated items go to waste. It is important at such times to donate non-perishable foods, blankets, clothes, shoes, bathroom supplies, first aid, among other things. Organizing relief drives that properly identify what is specifically needed by those in crisis can help people donate better.

In Conclusion

It can be seen that it is easier to donate today than it has ever been in the past. If one wishes to give back, there are so many ways to do it. One does not always have to donate in terms of money. It can help to make donations of any nature. You can also choose where to donate and how much to donate; even in terms of time! It is important that we all start giving back and building a better and stronger community.

In recent times charity has become easier due to the availability of online platforms such as iConnectX!

“”A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.””-Bob Proctor

Mentoring is when an individual shares his experience, skills, and knowledge to guide another to shape his future.

The purpose of mentoring is to advise, guide, or counsel a mentee to equip him to achieve his goals. A mentor provides support and feedback to a mentee in his charge.

We normally tend to associate the term “”mentor”” with a grey-haired individual who has years of experience in life. But contrary to this belief, a mentor can be of any age!

It is true that in most cases the mentor is older to the mentee especially in cases such as education mentoring or youth mentoring. But, many organizations are adopting reverse mentoring where the younger employees mentor the senior executives to train them in technology, social media, and the latest workplace trends.

It is not the age of the mentor that matters but the skills he has. When a mentee chooses a mentor, he should select one who has the skills and the relevant experience in the field of interest of the mentee. Besides, the mentor should have good communication skills and the mentee should be at ease with the mentor.

Why are coaching and mentoring important?

Coaching and mentoring have become important in recent times because they benefit both the mentor and mentee and the organization.

Coaching/mentoring in organizations helps in the career growth of employees. Mentoring strengthens the skills of the employees and helps identify the problems an employee might be facing. Mentoring enables the employees to overcome these hurdles and build a positive and concrete change in the individual.

Importance of having a mentor

The following quote beautifully captures the importance of mentoring-

“”Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had a real positive influence in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living if you do it well I’m sure there was some cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor-“” Daniel Washington.

You will find that for professional, personal or spiritual growth of an individual the empowering force has been mentoring!

Mentors offer mentees steady support, hope, guidance, and critical encouragement.

Mentoring has become important in different areas because there is felt a growing need to provide a focus and direction to individuals to grow in life and career.

Mentoring is done in business, education, for youth and even leaders, are mentored today.

Why are mentors important in business?

Business mentoring is when a successful businessman helps small business by providing him one-on-one advice and boosting his morale.

A survey by Kabbage reveals that nearly 92% of the respondents attribute their success to mentors. Mentorship plays an important role in businesses such as real estate, property management, and construction. This is mainly because these fields are network-driven and require technical training.

Starting a business is a difficult task and the new business owner may face several challenges at this stage. A business mentor has coped with similar challenges and succeeded. Therefore, he is the best person to guide and advice the mentee. The mentor can share his failures also with the mentee to guide him about the pitfalls that he should be wary about.

Mentors are important in business because they can offer advice and answer any query the mentee may have. Business mentors offer the mentees an alternative perspective to look at problems.

Business mentors, based on their experience, are aware of the key skills required for running a business successfully and can help the mentees develop them.

A business mentor can help a mentee expand his network through the contacts of the mentor for the growth of his business.

It is recommended that the mentee has a long-term relationship with his mentor as this will provide his consistency to maintain his business.

Business mentoring has been found to be beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee.

The mentee develops new skills and a larger network while for the mentor it serves as a method to give back which also proves to be a learning experience.

Importance of Mentoring in Youth

Mentoring in Youth helps them achieve their personal and academic goals. It boosts their confidence levels and enhances performance.

Data reveals that:

  • Girls with mentors are two and a half times more likely to be successful in their academic performance.
  • Boys who have mentors are three times less likely to suffer peer pressure and anxiety.
  • Mentoring increases the likelihood of students attending college by 50%.
  • Youth who are mentored are 46% less likely to use drugs.
  • Youth with a mentor are 27% less likely to indulge in alcohol abuse.

Importance of Mentoring in Education

A mentor who encourages a student in his goals and dreams has been found to be responsible for the success of the student in his personal and professional life.

Faculty of the college mentoring students in college has been found to have a long-lasting impact on the students. Students who are mentored in college by their professors build long-term relationships with them. They remain in contact with their professors even after graduating. This is affirmed by the fact that nearly 71% of the students reported that they were in touch with their mentors one year after graduation.

Mentoring in education is more than making the students feel cared for and supported, it motivates students to work hard and achieve their goals.

Graduates who were strongly challenged during their student lives are 2.4 times more likely to feel that their education justifies its expense. Moreover, these students are 3.6 times better prepared for life.

Mentoring is not just relevant for students or youth, mentoring is even practiced for leaders in an organization. You may wonder when an individual is already functioning in the capacity of a leader, then why does he need mentoring?

Why is mentoring important in leadership?

All famous business leaders, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates have had mentors who have empowered them to succeed.

When you become a business leader there is a steep learning curve to be assumed for this role.

With a mentor, a leader has the opportunity to ask any kind of question whether simple or complicated to perform his new role.

A mentor for a leader works as a sounding board for ideas and provides unbiased feedback for any challenge the leader may face.

The mentor-mentee relationship between the leader and his mentor evolves with new challenges the leader faces. Mentoring helps at various stages of the leader’s journey.

Mentoring also enables leaders in decision making when faced with complicated problems.

In Conclusion

A good mentor can shape a mentee to be successful in his professional and personal life. Mentors guide mentees to be good leaders rather than followers. Mentoring has a long-term impact on the mentees offering life and career-changing benefits.

If you have what it takes to be a mentor, join iConnectx! It is a platform that offers you an opportunity to mentor young executives. It offers a private bridge to connect the executives with the mentors.

Philanthropy is any act that is performed for the betterment of humanity. Philanthropy is derived from “Philos” which means loving and “Anthropos” meaning humankind.

Acts of philanthropy are not done with the motive of generating a profit. Philanthropic giving is on a steady rise as donors across various demographics show an increased interest in various issues such as environmental, medical research, etc.

Philanthropy is often confused with charity. However, they are different. While acts of philanthropy are directed towards eliminating social issues, charitable acts focus on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems.

How can Philanthropy change the world?

Philanthropy is an unselfish act of “giving” to the world to help make it a better place for all types of people. Philanthropists have the opportunity to impact society by donating resources. Philanthropy catalyzes long-term changes by addressing the root cause of various social issues affecting society.

Philanthropists can make a difference to the world by:

  • Improving and strengthening communities
  • Support the Arts
  • Supporting Medical Research
  • Enhancing the quality and reach of Education by building schools
  • Provide relief for victims of wars and natural disasters. etc.

The current digital environment has helped philanthropy thrive. It has not only increased the awareness level for various causes but also enabled philanthropists to contribute beyond geographical limits.

Some examples of major success stories of philanthropy are:

In the 1940s poverty reduction overseas was not considered a priority by many. It was supported by philanthropic donations rather than by a government initiative. It was the Rockefeller Foundation that funded agricultural scientists to breed better crops for the developing world. This helped increase their food production.

Similarly, in the 1950s, the first effective birth control pill was created thanks to philanthropic donations. The pill was the idea of activist Margret Sanger. The Gregory Pincus research team needed funds to the tune of $40,000 to proceed. This was furnished by a check from biologist and women’s rights activist, Katherine Cormick.

How do you become a philanthropist?

Giving to the community creates a good feeling in the donor! Most people want to contribute to society but don’t know how and sometimes they may lack the resources to contribute.

When we think of philanthropy names of celebrities such as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, etc. cross our mind and we feel that we lack the resources that they have and so we cannot contribute. However, the good news is that you don’t need to be rich to become a philanthropist. Besides, contributing to certain nonprofits also brings tax-benefits.

Anyone can be a philanthropist!

    1. Contribute to a Nonprofit

      • In order to become a philanthropist, you should search the internet for nonprofits and choose one that this aligned to your objectives.
      • It is essential to check the credibility of the nonprofit since there are a number of fraudulent organizations in the field of philanthropy.
      • Once you have researched and found a nonprofit that you like, you can register with them and contribute small monthly donations to them.
      • If you are short of resources and are finding it difficult to donate, you can still associate yourself with the nonprofit by offering volunteering services during fundraising and other events organized by the nonprofit.
      • Volunteering can also be done in addition to contributing funds.
    2. Venture Philanthropy

Philanthropy can also be done in the form of venture philanthropy. Venture philanthropy implies setting up an organization which works for social initiatives without a profit motive.

Many high-profile celebrities have led the way for venture philanthropy by establishing foundations that have worked for social causes. It is encouraging to note that these celebrities are leading the way by realizing that contributing to society at large brings more meaning to life.

Some famous philanthropists are:

Tony Robins

Led the 100 Million Meals Challenge with Feeding America, providing a quarter of a billion meals to those in need. He also worked for Operation Underground Railroad for prevention of child trafficking.

The Tony Robins Foundation has awarded over 2,000 grants and other resources to various health and human services organizations. It has implemented curriculum in more than 1,600 correctional facilities besides many other philanthropic activities.

Bill Gates

When speaking of famous philanthropists, one of the most famous names is Bill Gates. He believes that people who are incredibly wealthy owe it to the world to give back. His net worth is estimated at nearly $94 Billion and he has contributed $50 Billion to various nonprofits. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed to a number of activities such as healthcare in Nigeria and providing educational resources in Chicago.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have decided to contribute 99% of their wealth to charity. Currently, this amount stands at $46 Billion. The Chan-Zuckerberg foundation has been contributing funds towards various science, justice, and educational initiatives.

    1. Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate Philanthropy entails a corporation promoting a social cause by contributing funds, efforts or time. Corporate philanthropy is on a rise as more and more companies are realizing their responsibility towards society. Just last year corporations donated about $17.77 Billion to nonprofits!

Corporate philanthropy can be through various avenues:

      • Matching Gifts:

Corporations will match the donated amount to nonprofits by their employees.

      • Volunteer Grants:

Corporations match their employees’ nonprofit volunteer hours with donations to the nonprofit.

      • Employee Grants:

Corporations award grants to employees to contribute to nonprofits of their choice.

      • Community Grants:

It is less common than the above methods. In this case, nonprofits need to approach companies that contribute through community grants and appraise the company on how their nonprofit will benefit the local community to avail a grant from them.

      • Volunteer Support Initiatives:

Organizations provide support to nonprofits by partnering through their employees with them. This support could be in the form of materials such as food, technology or specialized services of their employees such as mentoring, consulting, etc.

The Bottomline

Philanthropy is becoming popular among various demographics. One of the emerging technologies supporting philanthropy is iConnectX!

iConnectX is a networking platform that harnesses the power of your network to support nonprofits. We help connect professionals, executives, experts, and companies with each other and with nonprofit organizations to help increase participation in events, auctions, and donations.

If you are curious for more on philanthropy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy updates you on the latest happenings in the world of nonprofits. It is a Washington DC-based magazine that serves nonprofit leaders, fundraisers, grants, etc. It provides news, advice, and resources on nonprofits.

Most executives have a desire to mentor. It helps encourage growth within their own organizations, and it gives them a sense of fulfillment – putting their hard-won skills and talents to good use.

But mentoring is also time-consuming, and often, if the mentee isn’t fully engaged – or just the right fit for the mentor in the first place – it can mean even more lost time. And that’s just not something most executives are willing to risk.

So how do you continue to offer your expertise as mentor, while also ensuring your limited and valuable time is used to its fullest? Here’s a few tips:

Know the mentee’s objectives.

Before engaging in any mentoring arrangement, set up a quick discovery call with the potential mentee.

What are their career goals and objectives? What are they looking to get out of a mentoring relationship? What do they expect and what from their mentor? Evaluate their answers from two angles.

First, do they know what they want? If they’re wishy-washy or unclear on their objectives, it’s likely not a great use of your time. You want a mentee who’s goal-oriented and ready to get to work.

Second, make sure you’re the right fit for the unique objectives they have. Do you have the experience and skills to guide them toward their goals? If not, they may be best served by a different mentor.

Set time and resource expectations up front.

Make sure to establish a set schedule on which you’ll offer your mentoring services.

Will you meet once a week? Once a month?

Will it be by phone or by Skype? Will you follow-up after every meeting? Will you review the mentee’s work or presentations?

Set clear-cut rules regarding your arrangement, particularly regarding time usage and availability. You don’t want a mentee to go overboard and take more of your time than you want to offer.

Make sure the mentee is invested.

You want your mentee to have skin in the game. After all, you’re giving your time, skills and expertise to them (essentially money out of your pocket), so shouldn’t they have something at risk, too?

Consider a platform like iConnectX, which requires payment for mentoring services and ensure mentees have a real, vested interest in leveraging your skills and knowledge to the fullest.

An added bonus? Their payment goes straight to a charity of your choice, allowing you to better your community just for donating your time and expertise.

Interested in learning more? Sign up for iConnectX now and connect with like-minded professionals looking for your knowledge and expertise. Choose your favorite charities and causes, and start donating today.

When it comes to mentoring, the benefits to the mentee are pretty obvious. They get expert guidance from a proven pro, personalized advice about their specific career and goals, and most importantly, connections with higher-ups in their organization and across their industry.

It’s a slam dunk in every sense of the phrase.

But what about the mentor? What benefits do mentors get out of the arrangement, other than lost hours in the day? Why is it worth their time and effort?

Surprisingly, there’s a lot more benefits of mentoring than you might think. Experts who regularly share their knowledge and mentor others can enjoy:

Improved Listening Skills

Mentoring sharpens your listening skills and enables you to better understand and empathize with those around you. You learn to better put yourself in others shoes, ask questions, and really get to the bottom of both professional and personal challenges on the whole.

Improve Mentor’s Communication Skills

Not all the mentee coming from the same background or environment the mentor belongs. Mentor and Mentee may not comfortable to speak the same language. This may force mentor to find a new way to communicate more effectively with mentee as you navigate further in mentoring relationships.

A Better Understanding of Younger Generations

Mentors typically work with professionals who are younger and less experienced than them. The mentee gets access to the mentor’s years of hard-won experience and knowledge, and the mentor learns about up-and-coming tech, tools and approaches from the workers of tomorrow.

It’s a great way to stay on top of current trends and ensure you’re in tune with what today’s younger professionals need, want and expect in their careers – and in a leader.

Efficiently Use Time for mentoring

A mentor engages with many mentees through out their mentoring career. This improves the mentoring skills in terms of better understanding of audience from diverse education and professional background, in terms of generation gap, cultural differences. This helps the mentor to learn new culture, understand the thoughts of different generations.

Stronger Leadership and Management Capabilities

Being a mentor, you’re able to see the true impact of your leadership and mentoring skills in action. You can hone in on what works, what doesn’t work and what approaches best resonate with different personality types and workers. It’s a great way to strengthen your existing leadership, coaching and mentoring skills and better prepare yourself for new responsibilities and challenges.

Increase Mentor Confidence and Motivation

Mentoring programs are not only a one-on-one activity. Mentoring programs like Youth Mentoring Program, Business Mentoring Program or Online Mentoring Program are the activities where the mentor must communicate with many mentees from different background that gives a confidence to speak in front of big audience.

A Sense of Achievement and Fulfilment

There’s a lot of personal satisfaction that can come from mentoring. Mentors create lasting impacts on those they take under their wing. They can change the course of someone’s career – or even their life in general – for the better, and they can greatly improve a person’s financial and professional standing for the long haul.

Most importantly, mentors are also able to pass down their knowledge to future generations of workers, ensuring they’ve had a permanent influence on the industry and organization they worked so hard for.

The value of mentor is invaluable. Mentors shares their hard-earned success and failures they have gained throughout their professional career. They break-down what goes wrong and right in their personal and professional career. Mentor pass on their experience during coaching and mentoring programs to the mentees, without all the heartbreak and challenges that comes with them. It gives a sense of satisfaction.

If these benefits aren’t enough to encourage your own mentoring efforts, consider joining iConnectX. On our platform, you can use mentoring services to raise valuable funds for the charities and causes you care about. Select from a variety of pre-vetted organizations, fill out your profile, and professionals will donate to your charities in exchange for a mentoring session. Best of all, it’s all done digitally – no physical meetings or long commutes necessary. Sign up today to see what iConnectX all is about.

Executives Want to Donate to Charity: These 3 Hurdles Are Stopping Them

Most busy executives want to donate to the charities and causes they care about – but actually making it happen? Well, that’s another story.

Facing jam-packed schedules, a tenuous work-life balance and all kinds of demands and obligations outside the office, executives often let their charitable goals fall by the wayside.

Have you found yourself in the same boat, looking to make a difference in the world, but unable to execute? Here are the three biggest challenges executives like you face in charitable giving – and what you can do to power through.

They don’t have time to vet charities or seek them out.

You might know what causes you care about, but what charities donate to those causes? Which ones do active, meaningful work in those areas and which just take your money and pour it into marketing? Vetting charities – as well as what they do with your money  – is important before making a donation. But sadly, most executives lack the time to do this. A great solution? Use a giving platform that has already vetted and verified participating charities. It cuts down on time and it streamlines the whole process.

They forget to donate regularly.

You barely have time to sit down for dinner, let alone attend volunteer events or remember to write a check to your favorite charity. Sure you could add it to your calendar or set up an alert every quarter, but don’t you already have enough filling your days? Busy executives need an easier, more efficient way of donating that automates the process.

They’re balancing too much. No matter how good a cause it is, most executives just don’t want to add anything else to their plate. You’re already struggling to keep all your plates in the air, and the thought of putting anything else in the mix can be overwhelming. Busy execs need a solution that combines tasks they’re already doing (like mentoring sessions, for example) and charitable giving all in one. This eliminates extra work and allows them to achieve their goals of giving simultaneously.

The iConnectX platform addresses all these challenges and more. A unique solution that lets executives offer mentoring services (something they’re likely already doing), iConnect digitizes the experience and monetizes it for charitable use. Professionals can use the platform to connect with well-suited executive mentors, pay for a digital mentoring session, and see those funds donated to a charity of the executive’s choice. All charities are fully vetted and verified before joining the platform.

Are you interested in donating to charity but just don’t have the time or energy? Turn your mentoring sessions into a one-stop shop for giving. Just pick your favorite organizations and causes, and your mentees will do the rest.

Register on iConnectX today to see for yourself.

A mentor can be invaluable. They can guide you toward the right career path, share their hard-won experiences with you, and give you sage advice to help you on your journey.

They may even open doors to new opportunities or jobs.

But in order to offer all these amazing benefits? They first need to be the right fit. An ill-fitting mentor won’t know what to say or where to guide you, nor will they have the experience or skills you need to learn from.

In short, the entire arrangement will waste both your time and the mentor’s. And in today’s busy world, is that really something you’re willing to risk?

Being a mentor is not an easy job. A good mentor will help you learn how to do things, but not do them for you. Being a mentor not only helps to guide mentee personal growth or professional career, but it also helps to improve the mentor performance as an executive

If you’re going to go out on a limb and work with a mentor, you need to be sure it’s the best fit possible. To do this, you should:

Know exactly what you’re looking for.

What are you looking to get out of the mentoring arrangement? Advice to get you to the top of your department? Guidance on how to better manage your work-life balance? Help bettering certain skills or bridging knowledge gaps you might have?

Sit down and make a list of exactly what your ideal mentor would have to offer you. Not every mentor will have the same skills and knowledge to pass on, so honing-in on exactly what you’re hoping to learn can help you find the perfect fit.

Understand what you can commit and what you need.

Your mentor doesn’t just need to match up on values, skills and knowledge, but they also need to have the bandwidth available to support you. So, take a beat and think: how much do you want your mentor involved?

Do you want a weekly, monthly or quarterly session? Do you want them to assign you tasks and homework you can learn from? Do you want them to follow up and circle back on items you’ve discussed?

Also, figure out how much time you can actually commit. Talk to your family, your boss and anyone else that demands your time, and see how often you could carve out time for mentoring. Knowing what you can commit, as well as what you expect your mentor to commit, can help you find the best fit possible when you’re on your search.

Evaluate the mentor.

The first sign of a “right fit” mentor is if they start the conversation by encouraging the you to make the conversations more interesting and engage you by asking questions and involve you throughout the process. The next sign, are they listening to your answer or simply sharing their knowledge? Thirdly, after the session, do you want to spend more time with your mentor?

Was a connection made with mentor? Did the meeting with mentor leave you with feeling better and more confident? These are some signs on which to measure the mentor effectiveness. If your mentor does not fulfill your requirements evaluation, then you most likely will not follow up with them. If you find all the qualities that fit your needs in your mentor, then immediately follow-up with a request for the next meeting.

Mentees can not only benefit from the mentoring, they can use the mentor’s network to grow their personal or professional goals. Mentees will have the chance to get in touch with other experts using their mentor’s network. Don’t force the relationship, Mentee/Mentor relationships grow organically over time and based on mutual respect.

Use the right tools.

You’re not going to find a great mentor on Facebook or Twitter, and unless your company has a built-in mentoring program, you probably won’t find one in the office either. Your best bets for finding a great mentor are platforms like iConnectX or LinkedIn.

On iConnectX, you can find mentors who have the skills, experience and availability you’re looking for, and for a nominal fee, set up a mentoring session instantly. It’s seamless, easy and ensures you get a mentor who’s the right fit for your needs.

Choose someone you respect and want to be like.

Finally, once you’ve got a short list of potential mentors, you’ll want to consider: who do you want to be like? Who has the same values and ideals as you? Who has followed the career path you want to mimic? Who has gone about their career in the same way you’d like to?

Ultimately, you want a mentor you respect – one you admire for how they’ve gone about their career and life and who has set a great example for those around them.

Finding an a Great online Mentor Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

If you’re on the hunt are looking for a business mentor or a mentor who can help you achieve your life and career goals, give iConnectX a try. You can find a mentor online who can help you in your business, life or career. All it takes is a few minutes, and you can find a perfectly suited mentor and start your mentoring session program.

Best of all, all mentoring fees go straight to a charity of the mentor’s choice, so you’re not only bettering your career – you’re improving the world around you.

Sign up for iConnectX today and see how it works for yourself.

There’s nothing worse than a bad mentoring arrangement. Already strapped for time and zapped of energy, you shouldn’t be devoting yourself to anything that’s not of value — both to you and your mentee — especially given your hard-earned talent, skills, and experience.

But how do you spot those bad mentoring relationships? How do you know when one’s just plain not working?

Here are some signs your mentoring arrangement’s gone sideways — and that it may be time to invest yourself in something new:

  • There’s an overall lack of structure. Do you find yourself struggling for things to talk about when meeting with your mentee? Do you jump from topic to topic aimlessly, without any sense of direction? Are you both just winging it? Each mentoring session should build off the last and serve as one portion of an overall larger conversation — a larger journey toward a very specific goal the mentee has in mind. If your meetings aren’t on a consistent pathway and seem aimless, structureless or freeform, both you and your mentee will waste time and energy. Go into your mentoring relationship — and each individual meeting within it — with a very specific goal in mind, as well as a plan on how to reach it.
  • The mentee has lost interest or passion. Your mentee may have been gung-ho and excited at the start, but has the honeymoon period started to wear off? Are they showing up late? Are they not as engaged, with fewer questions or issues to discuss? Are they relying on you fully to set the agenda and schedule the meetings? If so, it’s time to talk with your mentee. Chances are, the fit’s not right — and you may want to move on to a mentee more eager to utilize your skill set.
  • The mentee’s not getting what they need. It’s very important to have regular check-ins with your mentee — not just to have those weekly or monthly sessions, but also to ensure they’re getting what they want out of the relationship. Ask them directly if they’re getting value out of your arrangement and if it’s helping them meet their goals. If they can’t describe concretely what value they’re getting — or if they say they’re getting none at all — then the arrangement isn’t helping anyone. Reevaluate whether it’s a good use of your time and consider finding a new professional to mentor in their stead.

Truly great mentoring arrangements are hard to come by — and that’s because many mentee-mentor relationships are established through forced, required in-house programs that match ill-fitted parties together.

Want to better use your skills, experience and limited time?

Consider a platform like iConnectX, where mentees seek out experienced executives and subject matter experts just like you — and they’re willing to pay for it. The best part? Those fees go straight to the charity of your choice, so you’re not only training better pros for tomorrow — you’re also helping the community around you.

Sign up for iConnectX today and see for yourself.