A joint effort to mentor NFL players as they leave the playing field for new careers highlights the importance of member value.
The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and SCORE, an association that educates and mentors small-business entrepreneurs, announced a partnership last week to help current and former NFL players prepare for life after football. SCORE’s network of volunteers and local chapters will provide the former players with free mentoring, tailored workshops, and expert resources about business careers.
This partnership enables us to give our players and our members the absolute best that we can offer them, and I think that’s our responsibility as an organization.
The partnership, while young, has already provided some lessons that all associations can learn from:
Clear chapter communications are essential. Both the NFLPA and SCORE are national organizations that have state- and local-level chapters. Open communication between the organizations and their chapters has been crucial in the early stages of the partnership.
“We’ve had our chapter leadership [at introductory meetings] to talk more specifically of the types of services they offer locally as well as create that connection and that contact point,” said Mark Dobosz, vice president of development and president of the SCORE Foundation. “Also, we may not necessarily have the specific expertise in a chapter where an NFLPA former player is; however, we’re able to reach across to many of our other chapters to find the types of resources that are necessary to assist them through the process.”
Do for members what they struggle to do effectively for themselves. The NFLPA recognized an opportunity to provide their members with options to help them succeed when their playing days were over.
“It’s really best practices in my opinion,” said Nolan Harrison, senior director of former-player services for the NFLPA, once an NFL player himself. “You seek out the absolute best-in-class and offer that to your membership. This partnership enables us to give our players and our members the absolute best that we can offer them, and I think that’s our responsibility as an organization.”
Mentors are invaluable. Mentors will play a major role in the partnership. “Being able to get with a SCORE mentor to figure out what type of business, what type of career they want to have after football is key,” said Harrison. “Whether a guy wants to be an entrepreneur or a franchisee, there are mentors for all of that.”
Dobosz said providing that kind of practical guidance is right in SCORE’s wheelhouse. “Being able to have an objective set of eyes to look at a situation and say, ‘Have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?’ is important,” said Dobosz. “Absent that, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge.”