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mentoring program

7 min read

11 Tips to Start a Successful Mentoring Program

Tags: Member Engagement,Member Retention

Did You Know?

Mentoring programs improve some of associations’ biggest internal challenges to growing membership, including: difficulty in communicating value or benefits, proving ROI, attracting and/or retaining younger members, and meeting the needs of different segments.

Explore our 11 tips to starting a mentoring program of your own!


Choose an internal program owner

This employee should have the bandwidth to manage:

  • Obtaining buy-in from and communicating with other departments
  • Providing resources to mentors + mentees
  • Sending out communications
  • Troubleshooting any problematic relationships
  • Acting as a general point of contact for participants


Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Track things like:

  • Program-specific metrics (# of mentor/mentee pairs, satisfaction of members)
  • Business metrics (program’s effect on member retention, member acquisition)


Define program structure and outline time commitments

Helping participants manage expectations can increase sign-ups and participation throughout. Think through:

  • How long will each round of mentoring pairings run?
  • How many hours are they expected to participate?
  • Will you set eligibility requirements for participation (e.g. must be active member in online community, must be a member for
    X years)?

TIP: You could establish different mentoring “tiers.” For example, participants could choose monthly coaching, a one-time resume review, or a regular weekly meeting.


Develop program material

Create guides for mentors and mentees with helpful tips about mentoring and how to best prepare for their first meeting.

TIP: Ask potential mentors to review your program materials and offer personal feedback on whether the expectations seem doable and reasonable. Modify as needed.


Use community data to recruit mentors

Build out your mentor database prior to rolling out the program to mentees. If you have an online community, you have a natural pool of members to choose from.

TIP: Use your community or marketing automation platforms’ segmenting tools to find potential mentors. For example, a quality candidate might be someone who has been a community member for 5+ years, posts 2-3x/month, etc.


Guide mentors

Not everyone who volunteers to be a mentor will know how to be a mentor.

  • Map the mentor journey by scheduling milestones into an automated email series
    • Week 1: Suggest new mentors reach out to
      their mentee with some “get to know you” questions
    • Week 2: Encourage them to set up their first meeting
    • Week 3: Suggest potential topics to cover
  • Set up similar automated email prompts to run for the duration of the program


Launch your program to mentees

If you’re comfortable, you can start with a full launch, or do a soft launch to discover any potential issues.

TIP: Create a parallel automated series of milestones for mentees, just like you did for mentors.


Monitor activity to tweak the program as you go

Ensure your internal program owner is keeping tabs on activity post-launch.

  • Create an automated workflow to survey members midway through the program
  • Use feedback to make improvements


Promote your mentoring program

You may notice a few mentors/mentees who seem especially engaged or offer more feedback than others. These participants are great candidates to help you promote the program.

  • Invite engaged community members with an automated email campaign
  • Create awards and present at annual meetings
  • Include call-out or call-to-action about joining the program in member communications


Send an exit survey to participants

You’ll gather valuable feedback to strengthen your future strategy. Automate this outreach to make it easier on yourself or the program manager.


Track KPIs

Keep leadership updated on program progress and improvements. In addition to numbers, share any positive feedback you get from members to strengthen your buy-in.

Find a good core group of mentors first (more than you think you’re going to need). If you’re estimating 50 people who want to be mentees, make sure you have at least 50 mentors available, and make sure those mentors are in place before your program launches. We did that by asking our mentors to register first before launching with our mentees. Don’t be surprised if there’s pushback from your members in the beginning. They’re going to be so excited, and they’re going to have a lot of questions. But they may not necessarily like the answers. You can encourage the members to be broader in their search about what type of mentor they’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to change things up after you launch. You’re going to see elements that need to be adjusted.”
Barb Boggs, Events & Volunteer Relations Manager, Grant Professionals Association

Save Time and Drive Engagement

Learn how Higher Logic Thrive can help you streamline your mentoring program and improve member engagement with our Mentor Match add-on. We have almost two decades of experience working with associations like you.