There’s no doubt about it, volunteers make a huge difference to our communities — small and large. It’s a sentiment shared by more than six million Australians who volunteer in some capacity, including many of our Salesforce employees through our Volunteer Time Off program.
Each and every day, thousands of Aussie volunteers go out into the world with a goal of helping others, dedicating more than 600 million hours of their time. For many, the benefits of volunteering are actually two-fold. Not only are they helping others, but many volunteers actually receive much more than they give. Which is why it’s so important to recognise National Volunteer Week, Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteers.
At Salesforce, volunteering is part of our ethos. We are proud to shout about giving back and one thing we’re very proud of is our commitment to mentoring future generations. It’s something we’ve been focusing on through our recent partnership with Raise Foundation, an Australian not-for-profit who has mentored over 6,300 young people and trained over 4,800 volunteer mentors. Through Raise, volunteers are matched with high school students, working with them to become more resilient and connected, and giving them hope for the future.
This year was my first year being a mentor through the Raise program, and what really struck me was the bravery of these kids. For some, they have come from disadvantaged backgrounds, for others they don’t have a consistent role model in their lives. But no matter their circumstance each one of them has chosen to be part of the program. They have chosen to walk into a room full of adults — who admittedly are just as nervous as the mentees — and share their stories and dreams.
The benefits of mentoring
So, what makes a good mentor? Raise Foundation, describes a good mentor as “a positive role model, someone who can uplift their mentee’s strengths and help them outline and achieve any goals they wish to achieve”.
The mentoring relationship is built on trust, respect and communication. But it’s more than just advice and knowledge. It’s about getting to really know the other person, guiding them and advising them on their journey. You are there to listen and to provide a safe space.
For those being mentored, the advice and assistance from a mentor can be profound. It can help increase their confidence, build their resilience and provide hope for the future — whether that’s professionally, emotionally or mentally. And for the mentors, there’s not only the fulfilment and satisfaction that comes with helping another person, but there is also plenty to learn from the relationship. You never know what skills, attributes or passions your mentee is bringing to the table. To date, I’ve only spent an hour with my mentee but I’ve already learnt so much — such as how hyper-aware young people are of the world around them and what impact it has on their future — and that understanding is only going to grow as the relationship develops.
It’s something we’re learning through our partnership with Raise Foundation. Salesforce Sales Executive, Charles Noovao, who was instrumental in bringing the relationship with Raise to Salesforce, says just being involved is the most rewarding experience. “Meeting young people who put everything in perspective,” Charles says. “Being able to make a direct impact on someone who needs a non-judgemental shoulder to lean on, and someone to talk to, is powerful and humbling at the same time.”
Kylie Jones, ANZ Manager — Business Development — Education and Non-Profit at Salesforce.org wholeheartedly agrees with Charles. “Knowing you are empowering them to be themselves, to ask for help and know they are not alone. All you need to do is go in with an open, kind mind and heart and listen.”
Types of mentoring
There are three main different types of mentoring that you can get involved with — distance mentoring, group mentoring and one-on-one mentoring.
While all types have a place in the community, it’s one-on-one mentoring that can make the most impact on a person’s life. What’s special here is that mentors and mentees are matched and spend quality time together, which is especially important for young people. The mentee is given sole focus and individual support, encouraging a more active relationship. When you decide to become a mentor you are ultimately taking on a valuable commitment and opportunity to provide support and guidance.
Salesforce Senior Solution Engineer, Leisa Greasby says she wanted to get involved as soon as she heard about the program. “Seeing the kids’ confidence grow over the program as well as watching them setting goals and feeling comfortable to reach out to others to help them meet these goals [has been the most rewarding thing],” she said. “Our time and commitment means so much more than we realise, often there is not a lot of consistency and support in their lives, and just having someone who cares who is not in their immediate life, can make a big impact.”
Bianca Ridge, Manager, Business Development at Salesforce, has similar sentiments. “The most exciting and memorable moments were around seeing my mentee’s eyes light up when making a connection or new realisation, opening up more and being more confident within himself,” she said. “The experience itself really solidified for me the importance and power of active listening and being present with someone. That if you are consciously making an effort to do so, it comes across. And, that it does make an impact — more than you may realise, whether you see it immediately, or down the track.”
How to get involved with mentoring
When it comes to getting involved, many mentors are motivated by an intrinsic need to assist the younger generation to navigate the many obstacles they’re bound to face. According to Raise though, the impact of the mentoring program reaches far beyond this. “Mentors learn valuable skills that deepen their conversations with their own families, friends and colleagues, as well as experiencing increased confidence and sense of purpose. Mentors also develop an understanding and empathy for youth issues and increase their confidence to mentor the other young people around them. This understanding creates more connected generations and better support for all of our young people.”
For everyone involved in the Raise Foundation mentoring program, they simply say ‘do it’. “You don’t need to be a trained psychologist, or have experience in mentoring,” Charles explained. “As long as you are open minded and genuinely wanting to help our young disengaged youth, and are willing to listen and learn, you will be a great mentor.”
Some good advice: consider how you felt as a highschool student. Did you have a neutral, trusted adult who you could go to without feeling judged? Why not be that person for someone else?
How do you spend your time volunteering? Tag us on Instagram @SalesforceAPAC and let us know.