Written By: Jessica Brookstein, MBA, CAP®, Divisional Director of Gift Planning at The Salvation Army
The Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia offers a Mentoring Program to further the Council’s mission to provide meaningful professional resources to our membership. Read how two of our members have benefitted from this mutually beneficial experience.
Mentor Background: John Schlesinger has more than 35 years of advancement experience, primarily in higher education, as well as healthcare, horticultural and human services organizations. His career has allowed him to develop a unique perspective into every aspect a fundraising program. In his tenure, he has directly served in every area of a traditional fundraising program including strategic planning, prospect research, annual giving programs, stewardship, major gifts, planned giving events and executive management. His focus in every program served has been building and enhancing relationships, promoting engagement and affinity to each organization’s mission and vision, and developing strategic approaches to encouraging growth and leadership support. His current credentials include the CFRE and CAP®. John is currently directing the planned giving program at Einstein Healthcare Network and has been a member of PGGCP since 1997.
Mentee Background: Steve Ardinger, CAP®, CLTC, has more 20 years’ experience as an Independent Financial Advisor specializing in retirement income planning, long-term care and philanthropic giving. As an independent advisor he built strong relationships with his clients based upon mutual respect and trust. In 2018, he witnessed the power of philanthropic giving in the months following the tragic loss of two close friends and decided to refocus his career. Steve is currently the divisional gift planner for The Salvation Army Eastern Pennsylvania & Delaware Division and has been a member of GPPGC since 2020.
What led you to sign up to be a Mentor/Mentee?
John: Participation in PGCGP committees has always been difficult for me to juggle with work, but I have always enjoyed helping another professional seeking to expand their understanding of our work and felt it would be the best way for me to give back to the organization as well as the profession. Throughout my career I have benefitted greatly from the advice and guidance of more seasoned professionals and know it is the best way to help someone else grow in their profession.
Steve: I have, in my past career as a financial planner, enjoyed helping other professionals expand their understanding of the work and responsibilities of the position. As I embarked on my path into gift planning/development, I felt that it would be the perfect opportunity to reach out and try to find a seasoned professional for the same type of help I had provided in the past. There is no better resource than someone that has already been there. I wanted to listen and learn as much as possible to help me in my transition.
What do you hope to get out of being a Mentor/Mentee?
John: Mostly the satisfaction of helping another professional expand their knowledge and understanding, as well as being a source of support at times when dealing with specific issues. It is also a great way to get to network and get to know others in nonprofit fund raising. Often, it will provide me with understanding new approaches to my work.
Steve: Knowledge and the support of a trusted professional to lean on if times get hard or I find myself in a situation with answers that are difficult to find. I also am looking at the role as a networking tool helpful to expand my contacts in the field.
What is one piece of advice you would give to new professionals entering this field?
John: I would say, be open, listen and learn about the mentee. Sometimes he or she knows more than they realize, (and) just needs encouragement in what they are doing already. Along with this, be mindful of where you have come from and how the well-placed advice of a colleague in the field has helped.
SA: FIND A MENTOR. Someone you can lean on, bend their ear when needed. No one wants to go it alone! Though I will openly admit I have underutilized my mentor over the past few months, I plan to take my own advice and build the relationship moving forward.
Mentors in PGCGP’s program are gift planning professionals who want to “give back” to the profession. To discover the options that are available to you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: to participate in this program, you must be a current member of our local council.