Engage & Empower: the Impact of Mentoring Programs

A woman shaking hands with her new mentee

Most associations acknowledge that mentoring programs can be a great help, but starting and maintaining a program can seem daunting. And while time and cost are factors when running a mentor program, the benefits can be enormous!

When implemented right, mentoring programs can lead to more engaged, loyal, and productive members. 

To give you an idea of what’s possible, we’ve highlighted some suggestions for running a successful mentor program–and what you stand to gain!

1. Attract Young Members

Attracting young members is a major concern for associations. Rather than leaning on associations to network and get ahead in their careers as they used to, young professionals are now more likely to use social media and their own means to accomplish this. 

On the other hand, with a mentorship program, associations can leverage the experience of their older members to offer more thorough, quality support to young members, boosting membership value and making it more enticing to join. 

The results are hard to ignore. 

According to a Sun Microsystems survey, professionals with a mentor earned promotions five times more than those without!

Try matching new members with mentors in a similar profession to maximize professional enrichment. Mentors can provide help and offer advice for specific career benchmarks to make the program even more effective for new participants.

2. Empower and Engage

Though both the mentor and mentee benefit professionally from these types of programs, there’s also an especially empowering quality to mentorships. These relationships foster a sense of support and security that can pay major dividends down the road–both personally and professionally. 

With the experienced guidance of their mentors, mentees can feel assured that they’re on the right path and that it’s possible to achieve their career goals. The mentors, meanwhile, gain a sense of fulfillment from the mentorship, giving back and sharing their hard-earned knowledge and expertise. 

The reality is, mentorship programs provide engagement opportunities for members at every level of their membership, leading to more loyal and committed members. Everyone benefits when you work together!

3. Strengthen the Onboarding Process

When combined with the onboarding process, mentorships get started on the right foot. The mentee will feel supported and connected to the association right away, while the mentor gets to guide their charge through every step of the process–building both bonds and lasting relationships! 

Offer participants walkthroughs of the program so that they can learn how the program works and get a feel for the kind of support they might receive. At the same time, provide mentors with training resources to ensure that they feel confident to support their partners.

To improve the chances of success for your association’s mentoring program, give it a formal structure and a specific timeframe. Not only does this help keep mentors and mentees motivated and on schedule, but it can also improve the participation in programs, as an open-ended commitment can be off-putting. With a solid, actionable mentorship plan in place, members will be excited to sign up and give it a try!

4. Plenty of Settings

In the past, mentoring programs were held in face-to-face formal settings, but things have changed over time. People are no longer limited to geographical locales–they can now meet online or connect via forums

Members aren’t limited to discussing the program either. Mentors and mentees can take part in professional development programs or attend events together; learning is always more fun when you do it with a friend! By upskilling together, mentors and mentees can keep the relationship feeling fresh while collecting new experience to pass on to future members.

5. Evaluate the Program

While mentorship programs can be easy to manage once they get rolling, they aren’t entirely set-it-and-forget-it. 

To make sure things are moving smoothly, consider checking in with both parties from time to time. Ask them about the amount of communication they’ve had and about the quality. Get a feel for how effective each side believes the mentorship is and give suggestions about how they might enhance the experience. 

Wondering how to get feedback? Something as simple as a Google Form or a social media post (including Twitter polls!) can help you out. You can even start a thread on your association’s forum or create an email campaign soliciting replies.

Checking in can go a long way to keeping the mentorship a priority for members while ensuring everyone what they’re hoping for from the experience.

6. Change Things Up

You don’t want your program to get stale, so try spicing your program up every so often to attract more members. By offering mentoring opportunities at events and training programs, you’ll double their value and likely improve attendance. 

Additionally, your association could consider running a peer-to-peer event during which mentors and mentees run the discussions (instead of a traditional keynote speaker). This is a great way for new members to learn from more experienced professionals, as well as for veterans to be inspired by the younger generation. It’s a win-win!

You may also like: How to Bring Your Association Closer to Your Members


When it comes to it, mentoring programs can be a great way for associations to engage their audience, boost morale, and attract new members. After all, you’d be providing a unique, valuable experience to both the mentor and the mentee.

By putting the right strategies in place, mentor programs can be cost-effective and rewarding. Ultimately, the key to success lies in creating a program that fits the needs and goals of your association’s members. There’s no better time to start than now–so get plannin’!