Building a Mentoring Program That Paves the Way for the Future of Your Association

Building a Mentoring Program That Paves the Way for the Future of Your Association

If your association hasn’t adopted a mentoring program, you’re missing out on some golden opportunities. Mentoring has been a way to perpetuate industry standards and ensure the future since trade apprenticeships hundreds of years ago. It’s still a strong way to cement your association’s best practices and grow your membership. Let’s take a look at three different kinds of mentorship programs do that.

Mentoring for the Board of Directors
Since operating with a board of directors is a common practice for most associations, you want to enjoy continuity when the board changes over. Even a change in one role can have serious fallout, and if multiple officers leave at once, the results can be chaotic.

There is a simple solution, however: create a mentoring program for your board. Rather than waiting until your board positions turn over to have the new person step up, get them involved as soon as possible. Create a buffer period between board elections and your actual turnover date, so the new officer can follow in the footsteps of the officer who is leaving. Have the new officer shadow their predecessor, preferably through a major event, so they get some experience in the position with a helping hand.

To support new board members, create a manual of helpful documents with items like:

  • Board member job descriptions
  • Meeting minutes
  • Robert’s Rules of Order or other protocols
  • Past fundraising and membership letter campaigns
  • Event how-to information
  • Contact lists


Mentoring for Staff Positions
Just as changes in the board can make for chaos, so too can turnover in your office staff. An ideal method to smooth the way is to promote from within, whenever possible, so the person filling the open position is familiar with the board, office procedures, and other components of the organization that, while mundane, help the office run like a proverbial well-oiled machine.

Even before any staff vacancies are anticipated, you can set up an office mentoring program where upper level staff show others the ropes. This can come in handy in case someone winds up out sick with a long illness or has to travel to association meetings and trade shows.

Mentoring as an Association Mission
Many associations have some sort of internal mentoring system but fail to make mentoring an integral part of their organizational mission–a missed opportunity if ever there was one. Not only does mentoring make current members feel appreciated, it can help you attract new members and add income to your association’s bottom line.

For students and new members who are just starting on the career ladder, mentoring can help them create a roadmap to where they want to be years from now. With members who are in the middle of their careers, mentoring can be a way for them to get “unstuck” and find paths to transitioning to the next step. You might just find your next board members via your mentoring program too.

For associations that are forward thinking, as most should be, mentoring assures that current industry quality standards are being upheld, and it contributes to tomorrow’s leaders. Mentoring can also assist populations that traditionally struggle with advancement, such as women, minorities, veterans, and the differently abled.

Your association can make money through mentoring as well, via various schemes:

  • Using included mentorship as a way to attract new members, especially Millennials
  • Offering mentorship as part of a higher priced tier in your membership levels
  • Selling mentorships to non-members in your industry
  • Publishing how-to and career advice manuals that mimic mentoring advice
  • Raffling off prestigious mentorships as part of a fundraising effort

Although it’s easier to begin offering mentorship as an informal process, many associations have found success in making their programs more structured, with a definite timeline for steps, options for remote mentoring, accreditation, and even specialized mentoring software. If this feels beyond your association’s wheelhouse, there are mentoring consulting firms to help with determining your readiness for a mentoring program and getting it set up.

Need other help with your association, like meeting and event planning, volunteer development, or membership administration? Jaffe Management is here for you. Reach out today to learn more about all the services we offer that make running your association easier and more effective, so you can focus on your group’s mission.