Evidence has proven that almost anyone, could benefit from the power of mentoring.
Even those who design, implement and run mentoring programs would also benefit from the additional support. Mentor training in nonprofits has become a critical component in nonprofit success.
After all, running an effective mentoring program is no small feat, and it is certainly something that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. When setting up a mentoring organization, executive directors/program directors often nail the bigger concepts of organizational development.
- Your mission, and vision statements
- Social media pages
While all of those things could likely bring much-needed attention and funding to youth organizations, the true bread and butter hinges on the success of the participants in the program. Organizations should tout their successful matches and longevity of the mentoring relationships as their calling card instead of social media likes and shares.
Some would argue that personalities are the driving force behind successful mentoring relationships, other say it’s just the natural connection between a mentee and their mentor.
Although both of those statement s are true, the true success in mentoring is the same for almost every other area of our lives. Preparation, or in this case training. Training is the difference maker that is often overlooked in many youth-serving organizations. Like anyone stepping into a new role or position, mentors and mentees are more likely to succeed if they have been properly trained.
Leaders Need to Ask Themselves:
- What skills do my mentors need to have?
- What information do the participants need to know?
- What information can I share about the journey they are about to embark on?
We can never underestimate the amount of training an organization needs to grow or the amount of training those who would benefit from your services would need. Every program should conduct a minimum of 5 types of training before any mentoring relationship starts.
Mentor Training in Nonprofits Requires Leadership Training
I’ve always said and I will continue to say that mentoring has been going on since the beginning of time. You don’t need to be a part of an organization to mentor or facilitate any type of mentoring relationship. All you need is a desire to see someone succeed and the ability to point them in the right direction. However, when you decide to create a whole organization, whose sole purpose is to establish a mentoring relationship in bulk if you will, it requires a different level of expertise, technical know-how, and ability. So, the first training I recommend is strictly for the leadership of the organization. Is leadership familiar with the best practices surrounding mentoring? Is leadership equipped to handle some of the challenges that might arise when mentoring? These are some of the question’s leaders must ask themselves before establishing any program and certainly before bringing in any youth.
Studies have proven the more preservice training a mentor receives the more consistent they are with their mentee. Mentor training helps the mentor develop the skills and attitudes necessary to mentor. This is the opportunity to introduce them to various concepts of positive youth development and build their confidence before they start working with their mentee. This also gives leadership the chance to answer any questions they may have about mentoring before they are matched.
If Mentor Training in Nonprofits is Important, Don’t Forget about Mentee Training
The first two pieces of training seem like a no-brainer, but this one I can guarantee never happens. Is this your youths first time participating in a mentoring organization? If it is, they are likely to not know what to expect. By providing training for your mentee this gives them a chance to ask questions about the process, it gives them a chance to give their opinion on who they would like to be matched up with. More importantly, this training lets them know that they are in charge of the relationship and they have rights and responsibilities. They have a right to end the relationship for any reason if they are no longer comfortable. They have the responsibility to make their voice known in the relationship. They should be the center and focus of all major decisions as far as the mentoring relationship goes but, often times they are thought of only as the receivers of the goodwill from others. This is particularly important when dealing with marginalized youth who, in every other area of their lives, feel like they are to be seen and not heard.
Because Mentor Training in Nonprofits is a Multi-Layered Approach, Parent Training is Essential to the Effectiveness Matrix
Mentoring relationships thrive best when it is rooted in a supportive environment. Parents, especially of younger children, must be a major part of the process. After all, without their buy-in and participation, your program will not be sustainable. Parents need to know what to expect from the mentoring relationship and what their specific role in it is. Today’s parents are busier than they have ever been before and your program is often competing with their time and energy, as well as other school and community obligations, such as church and work. This also increases the stability of the relationship when the parent knows what to expect and how they can get involved in the goals and support of the mentoring relationship. Parents need to know why your program exists and what it hopes to achieve, the role of the mentor and how it will differ from the role of a parent as well as policies and guidelines they must adhere to.
Mentor training in Nonprofits Requires Orientation
Last but certainly not least, all mentor training in nonprofit programs should have an orientation for mentees, parents, and mentors. This gives everyone an overview of what to expect in the program, and an overview of the mentoring cycle. This also gives all parties a chance to go over the preferred methods of communication and provides a final opportunity to answer any questions or concerns about the program before mentee matches begin. At the end of all successful orientations, parents and mentee should walk away with the contact information of leadership, a written overview of the program, along with any roles, responsibilities, and expectations for program participation. This allows the participants to review any information at home and gives them an opportunity to think of any remaining questions or concerns that must be addressed prior to any mentor/mentee introduction.
Training is so vital to the success of any mentoring organization. During training, we, as practitioners can get a clear sense of our mentors, mentees and parents needs and challenges before they become problems. Whether you are a site-based program or community-based program training will always be the foundation on which your house should be built.