Mentoring Program Forges Ahead Despite COVID-19

Disruption limited Program success, but bright spots confirm value

AFP mentoring program graduates posing for photo holding their certificatesWorldwide health pandemics have an uncanny habit of interrupting the best laid plans. The AFP Mentoring Program and the fall 2019 cohort of philanthropy professionals were not immune.

Most of the dyads formed in October were only limping along by mid-March, according to Michael Frohna, chapter mentoring program coordinator. “The mayhem caused by COVID-19 caused most fundraising professionals to turn their resources and energies to their highest organizational priorities…a shift that makes complete sense,” said Frohna. “The best laid plans may have been disrupted, but learning rises above pandemics. Thankfully, the latter does not occur with any regularity. “

Frohna heard positive feedback from mentoring program participants. McKenna Olson, Philanthropy Office, Corporate Relations from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, was paired with Karen Ropel from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Ms. Olson said, “It was great to meet with Karen… I learned that [although] our organizations are different…we are both facing similar challenges. She had some great event sponsorship information to share with me.”

According to Frohna, “The greatest benefits of the mentoring program do not always come from enormous shifts in thinking, because those are rare. The more frequent and oftentimes more valuable outcome is realizing that even though missions differ, shared challenges exist, as McKenna identified.” Another key benefit: the new professional relationships that are formed that can help the participants through future issues.

A hearty thank you is extended to all participants in 2019-20 cohort. Given the challenges nonprofit organizations continue to face, the chapter is opting to form its next mentoring cohort in January. If you have questions about the program, please email Michael Frohna at If you are interested in participating as a mentor or mentee in 2021 please contact our administrator, Erin Richardson at to be added to the list.

Learn more about the Mentoring Program for Members