Membership Pro Tip: An Updated, Low-Cost Mentorship Program

A revised mentorship program reduces expenses and engages members in new, unexpected—and fun—ways. Find out how one association pulled off its successful program and keeps it running smoothly.

Looking to cut costs, the Solid Waste Association of North America switched from a fully automated mentorship program, which was hosted by a vendor, to a hybrid version that is partially automated but also manually driven. It’s been very popular with members—and SWANA’s membership team. Here is a closer look at the nuts and bolts that make it work.

How Does It Work?

Looking at the program from a long-term perspective and scheduling the whole year ahead of time is a big part of the program’s success, says Shelby Truxon, SWANA’s membership program manager. Mapping it out a year in advance helps Truxon keep track of notifications and mentor matches and prepares her for times when it’s a heavier lift, so she isn’t caught off guard.

Promoting it is also essential. Initially the team thought people would just sign up for the mentorship program—and they did—but over time they realized some targeted messaging was in order. They started plugging it in to other programming, like SWANA’s young professionals’ program, student groups, and conferences.

Why Is It Effective?

Tracking how many mentors and mentees are participating provides measurable results to show how effective the program is and helps the team gauge how it is doing from year to year, Truxon says. This allows them to tweak the program and make improvements along the way to achieve better results.

What’s the Benefit?

It’s another way to get members involved with SWANA and engaged. And for staff, it’s an opportunity to come up with new ideas and different ways to promote it.

Plus, it’s a chance to branch out and create new ways for mentors and mentees to interact. For example, a mentorship forum on an online community, a speed mentoring event at a conference, or small group webinars where participants can interact online.

“Just have fun with it, play around with it, and listen to the members,” Truxon says.

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

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Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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