The Next Level: Sponsor, Ally, Champion

Framework curated by Erin Wynn, Manager of Education and Evaluation at MindFrame Connect

Mentorship is an excellent practice to increase an entrepreneur’s confidence, success, and understanding of their company and ecosystem.

Mentors provide knowledge, guidance, and offer their lived experience in the industry to their mentees. Beyond mentorship, there are other support roles you can offer to your mentee or an entrepreneur you believe in.

What is a sponsor?

“A sponsor will put their name next to your performance”3

“Sponsorship means putting your ass on the line”1

A sponsor leverages their personal brand and reputation to advance their mentee (often, in sponsorship, referred to as a protégé) by putting them forward for opportunities, directly connecting them with network contacts, championing their work, and, in the world of entrepreneurship, occasionally by providing access to funding. “Mentors advise you, and sponsors advocate for you."2

The decision to become a sponsor is not one to be taken lightly and often follows a long-term, successful mentorship. It entails lending your credibility to your mentee/ protégé and supporting their advancement, while still letting them be in ultimate control of their trajectory. Sponsors use the same skills as mentors when it comes to offering guidance and insight but go further by advocating for their mentees.

Sponsorship is an area that has long been unequal across lines of gender, race, and ethnicity. As white males are more likely to have access to positions of power in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship, and to select other white men as their mentees or protégés, this means People of Colour (PoC), Black entrepreneurs, women, and other underrepresented groups may be passed over for these important supports. “[…] the best mentoring, like many of the best relationships, occurs when there is some similarity and some difference.” A study from Yale found that the most important factor for positive sponsorship outcomes were shared beliefs, values, and industry – beyond any factors of sex or race.3

1 Jodi Kovitz, 2021. Mentoring Innovation.

2 The Key Role of Sponsorship. Stanford Center for Talent Innovation.

3 King, 2021. How finding a mentor – or even better, a sponsor – can accelerate your career. Yale University.em>

Further Reading

Understanding the Impact of Mentorship vs. Sponsorship - Forbes

Why Transitioning From Being a Mentor to a Sponsor Matters as Leaders - Inc.

How finding a mentor – or even better, a sponsor – can accelerate your career - Yale Insights

What’s the Difference Between a Mentor and a Sponsor? - HBR Ascend

Mentorship vs. Coaching vs. Sponsorship Explained - Mentorship Moment

Share this Resource

Want incredible results from your mentorship program?
Then download our comprehensive list of best practices.

We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Want to improve your mentorship skills?
Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date on the latest frameworks, tools, and more.
Thank you for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please Try again