47% of association CEOs/Executives report their organization currently offers a formal mentoring program.

Mentoring programs are all about opportunity. They help participants connect and enhance their professional development, and they benefit organizations by engaging members, which adds value.

Mentoring also helps attract younger professionals who are eager to expand their knowledge base. For example, 29% of Gen Zs and millennials cited learning opportunities as a top reason they work for their current organizations, according to a Deloitte study.

Even so, research shows that while 76% of people think mentors are important, only 37% of people currently have one. That’s probably because programs are not always easy to set up and maintain.

In a recent quick poll conducted by Avenue M in early November with 17 association CEOs/Executives, 47% of association CEOs/Executives say they currently offer a formal mentoring program, 18% said they will offer one, and 24% say they don’t offer one but may add one. 6% say they don’t have one and have no plans to add one, and 6% are unsure.

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While it’s pretty clear mentoring programs can be a win-win, they do present some challenges. One CEO panelist shared that while their group does have a mentoring program, it’s not very successful because it’s difficult to get people to sign up.

Another panelist, whose organization does not have a mentoring program but plans to add one, said, “They are harder to do than people realize.” The good news is, technology can help. One participant said their organization recently switched to a new mentoring software platform called Qooper, which has been well received.

One CEO panelist confirmed the value of mentoring programs as a member benefit but recommended keeping the “focus on the benefit that members see, rather than activity metrics.” Specifically, the panelist said, focus on meaningful outcomes for those who participate, without trying to mandate or increase activity.

“Instead, ask whether the mentor and mentee found value, and whether they would recommend the program to others.” It’s all about “quality over quantity.”

Another panelist recalled working for an organization that offered an excellent formal mentoring program. Some key points that made it effective were it was professionally managed, with a formal kick-off and conclusion, and it had touch points.

In addition, the candidates were screened and the mentors were assessed to make sure they had enough time to dedicate since the protégés were paying for the program. It was a nondues revenue source, but “it offered a tremendous service.”

While starting a mentoring program might be daunting initially, there are lots of great resources out there about why they’re effective and how to build one and sustain it.

Read our quick summary of the following articles and click the links below.

Strategies for Starting a New Mentoring Program
Mentoring programs are an excellent way to increase an organization’s value and nurture members’ professional development. As beneficial as they are, it’s not always easy to know how to start one–and stay within budget. It’s also essential to remember that mentoring programs come in many formats, shapes, and sizes.

Before getting started, it’s important to have a plan and honestly assess what you hope to achieve before implementing one. Thoughtfully examining these five key areas is a good place to start.

  • Find Your Purpose
  • Who’s Your Audience?
  • Staff Time
  • Costs Involved
  • Time Management
  • Next Steps

Covering all bases and being clear on goals and objectives will help you effectively integrate a mentoring program that will align with member goals and your association’s needs without breaking the bank.

The ROI of Association Mentoring Programs
Members of ASAE’s Marketing Professionals Advisory Council’s mentoring subcommittee took a broad look at mentoring programs by talking to seven association leaders about their mentoring programs. The groups had a wide range of mentoring offerings–from large to small and new to established.

Despite the wide spectrum, the groups shared several common goals:

  • Giving senior executives a compelling reason to stay connected
  • Attracting and engaging young professionals
  • Improving DEI by bringing in a more diverse membership
  • Building a robust community of members with closer ties to the association

And, even though the leaders pointed to challenges in establishing and sustaining mentoring programs, they all agreed that they enhance member engagement.

Four Tips for Starting Your Mentoring Relationship on the Right Foot
Mentoring is a great way for people to advance themselves professionally at any stage of their careers and it’s often a mutually beneficial relationship. But it’s important to set expectations and have clear parameters in place to achieve the most productive and successful mentoring relationship.

Here at four tips for getting it right from the start:

  • Assess Yourself First
  • Establish Ground Rules Upfront
  • Get to Know Each Other
  • Build Trust Early On

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Contributor: Lisa Boylan

(Image: Adobe Stock)