Mentorship: An Investment in Your Association

By Allison Scudder • November 30, 2022

Mentorship programs encourage engagement among an association’s membership base while also working to bridge the gap between junior and senior professionals. They’re a win-win for associations and their members. There’s also very little cost when setting up and running a mentorship program. Members gain professional and personal enrichment, creating a sense of connection as a result of these programs. What does that mean for your association? You’re likely to retain those members for a longer period of time.

Today’s mentorship programs take the traditional one-on-one relationship to new levels. By introducing different mentorship models and leveraging technology, your association can make mentoring more accessible and convenient for everyone involved.

Whether you are looking to revitalize your current mentorship program or are thinking of starting one, here are several factors to consider.


Mentorship Programs Engage and Retain Association Members

A mentorship program provides an active way for your members to participate in your organization. Early career professionals join associations to help build their network and gain deeper insight and knowledge into their profession so they can grow their careers. A mentorship program helps more senior members share their wealth of wisdom with this member cohort and gain satisfaction from giving back to their professional community.

This also gives your association the opportunity to develop the rising leaders in your industry. The next generation of members can receive support for their goals and learn the inner workings of what goes into being a leader in the association. We all know how difficult it can be to retain volunteers. Offering this option of one-on-one connection can be more appealing to members who may be uncomfortable stepping directly into a group setting or are not sure where their skills would be most effective. There could be hidden talent within your organization that is waiting for the moment to emerge.

The more members engage with each other and build valuable relationships, the more likely they are to renew their membership and recommend your association to their peers.


Mentorship is a Two-Way Street

It is not just the mentee who has something to gain from the relationship. A more experienced association member might find that acting as a mentor is a way of contributing to the future of their profession. Still, it can be a learning experience for them, as well. No matter what stage a member is at in their career, teaching others can help them develop new ways of communicating ideas and facilitate their growth as a leader while helping decrease bias within an industry as a mentor learns new views. Mentees who may be more versed in the digital world can also share their technology skills with mentors who may have stopped acquiring new tools, given the nature of their work responsibilities. The mentee-mentor relationship’s unique perspective is just as rewarding to both the mentor and mentee.


Get Creative with Mentorships

A typical mentor relationship is thought of as a one-on-one interaction explicitly tailored to the questions and advice a mentee is seeking regarding their job or career. Typically, a less experienced professional is paired with an established executive willing to share their knowledge in hopes of guiding the mentee’s professional development. Mentors can provide direction during a young professional’s career through a challenging work situation or act as a sounding board over a long period of time. In today’s fast-paced world, however, your association members may benefit from alternative mentorship program models that can help accelerate the benefits mentees receive.

Consider a round-table approach where one mentee meets with not one but several mentors simultaneously. This panel approach can lead to solutions for the mentee that might be more efficiently achieved had they met in a one-on-one situation.

Likewise, a mentor can work with more than one mentee at a time. Provide a structured meeting time and agenda led by one mentor where a specific topic is discussed. Mentees can learn from each other’s questions with the added benefit of gaining new networking partners and a deeper connection with their fellow association members.

Remember that your mentorship programs can have any time limit you want! The most common ones run for about six months, but you can have shorter, more specific initiatives that run six to eight weeks or even an indefinite amount of time. No matter what type of program you set, make sure the expectations are clear on time frames for the mentor and mentee. If they choose to connect beyond the set amount of time is up to them.


Help Your Association’s Mentorship Program Can Succeed with Technology

Mentoring is more important than ever to keep members engaged with the association and their profession with the growth of hybrid and remote work environments. Some of your members may have fewer opportunities to cultivate professional relationships at their workplace. The natural mentoring relationship that develops between a supervisor and their employee during lunch breaks or chatting in between meetings may no longer exist.

A virtual mentorship platform also allows your members to conveniently meet without the obstacles of finding a time and place that works for both parties. Mentees can also have access to professionals not just in their immediate area but across the country — or world — depending on your organization’s reach.

Offering a structured online solution for the mentee and mentor to meet also decreases the intimidation factor that young career professionals may feel when trying to build rapport and seek guidance from a seasoned executive in an office setting.

At the same time, web-based platforms can minimize the staff time spent on the mentorship program. Some solutions are plug-and-play or can be more customized depending on your association’s needs.

As technology changes the landscape of how associations interact and engage, mentorship programs allow a one-to-one, personal connection to keep members engaged and thriving. After all, isn’t that what associations are all about?


Naylor has been helping associations become their best for more than 50 years. Want to find out how?

Request a meeting

About The Author

Allison Scudder is a corporate marketing specialist at Naylor Association Solutions. Reach her at [email protected].