I was asked who I considered my mentor. I had the look of someone who has gone into a room for some reason but couldn’t remember why. I glanced around the office hoping to come up with a name. But I had too many. Mentoring and coaching are not the same as many articles will tell you. I’ve never had a formal relationship as these titles are defined, but I have had many who were major influencers in my business (and no doubt personal) life. And, I am better for all of their guidance by example; nearly all positive, a couple, not so much. It will all be in ‘the book’ at some point. But back to associations.

The board of directors in trade associations, charitable, or entertainment nonprofits have big responsibilities to handle above and beyond their “day jobs.” Many are asked to also chair a committee all year or head up a major event or initiative. This can be a daunting load of work. From what I have seen in over thirty years of working with boards, the majority willingly and gracefully handle all of this in what becomes the Work, Life, Volunteer Balance.

So, now I’m going to pile on and strongly suggest that each board member become a formal mentor or coach to someone in their membership or support population. The selection of the member is as vital as the structure of the relationship; the frequency and nature of contact. This should be stated, not haphazard.  It goes without saying (but I won’t) that the member, supporter, or business be younger than the board member.

The benefits are huge. You are building stronger membership and supporters. You are layering on lifetime value to the other benefits and services your nonprofit offers. You are nurturing potential committee chairs and ultimately future board members. We can help you with an outline of how to make this a key part of your mission.

You are probably already an influencer, but just don’t know it, as all of mine were.

Time to formalize that impact on others by instigating a mentoring program.

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