When someone joins an organization, it’s not about them. After all, they aren’t being paid anything, or deriving any other tangible benefits, so it’s primarily about the organization itself. And since everyone values time, new members want to feel that they’ve made a good decision, because it will certainly take up some of their valuable time.
Experience tells us that there are three things new members look for, and a good mentorship program will assist with all three:
- They want to feel that they can make a meaningful contribution. – While there are always those who end up just showing up, most new members join an organization because they feel it’s a good fit for them, that they can contribute in some way or other. And when that ends up not being the case, it’s often not their fault.
- They need to know that their contribution is appreciated. – You don’t have to heap praise on them continually, but an occasional reminder of how much they mean to the organization—coming from one of the leaders—goes a long way towards making them feel of value, and inspires them to continue making their contribution.
- They would like to think that it’s time well spent. – No one wants to waste their time, unless they’re having a lot of fun (which of course means it’s not time wasted). So their experience with your organization needs to be a mix of fun, and doing something that’s meaningful all at the same time. Then they will really consider it time well spent.
A good mentorship program is the best way to make sure that your new members feel they are making a meaningful contribution, that their contribution is appreciated, and that they are not wasting their time.
Every organization is different, so it’s difficult to be real specific. But pairing up new members with a good mentor makes it easier to find ways to get them involved early on in areas of interest (the mentor gets to know them and what their interest is), and it provides a mild form of accountability. The mentor goes to all the meetings, so the new member will tend to do the same, particularly when they get a weekly call reminding them and keeping them up to date on all the latest.
Hopefully you can see the value of having a good mentorship program, as it will enhance the effectiveness of everything else we’ve covered; all having to do with recruiting new members and membership retention. You cannot expect to build a solid organization otherwise.
This post is part of our series: The Ultimate Online Guide to Recruiting Volunteers.
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