The Value of Mentoring for Professional Associations

The IRS broadly defines associations as “a group of persons banded together for a specific purpose”. For professional associations, that purpose is to promote the business and professional interests of the members. 

Association members represent the professionals that establish the standards in a particular industry. These members are the heart of any professional association. As the number of members grow, so does the association’s revenue. This is evident over the past 3 years as professional associations in the United States have seen an average annual growth of 5.2% and reached $24.1 billion in revenue.

Continued growth and retention of memberships is a necessity for any successful professional association. Though there was average growth over the past 3 years, associations saw a 26% decrease in memberships over the last year. This decline in membership is showing association’s that they must do something different to attract and retain industry professionals. 


Add Value to Your Memberships

Professionals aren’t joining associations for the membership card. They are looking for an organization that will add value to their membership experience. In fact, 26% of members that don’t renew their membership say that the association did not provide enough value. 

Associations with compelling value propositions are reporting increases of more than 50% in their one-year and five-year membership numbers. They also saw increases in their new members and overall membership renewal rates. When discussing the importance of value, an association professional commented “Value, Value, Value! If you have it, people will want it. Value has to be real and tangible in a way that people can’t compete without it.”

The value you provide to your members should directly reflect their needs. This is especially true when considering your younger members. Kimberly Gray, the Events & Communications Coordinator with the Associated General Contractors of Alaska once said “You have to keep in mind that an association membership is always changing. You have 50-year members leaving and new members joining. Younger members have different priorities and you have to address their priorities.” 

In a recent survey, it was discovered that 49% of association members belong to the Generation X or Millennial generations. It’s no wonder the associations that embraced the needs of these generations saw growth in recent years. These younger members' needs include:

  • Expanding their Network with other professionals in their industry
  • Acquiring New Skills through professional development
  • Obtaining Professional Resources
  • Discovering new Job Opportunities

As you can see their needs are not very different from those of other generations. Where the real change is happening is in how the needs are being met. One popular way is through implementing a mentoring program.


The Value in a Mentoring Program

Professional associations are the ambassadors between the leaders and new professionals in an industry. It is the association’s responsibility to provide programs that will aid their members in being successful. 

There are many associations that have embraced this responsibility and implemented a successful mentoring program for their members. These associations include The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the British Society for Rheumatology, and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications. Each of these association’s created their mentoring program with the desire to add value to their memberships. 

A great example of how an association is using a mentoring program to bring value to their members is the L. Patrick Mellon Mentoring Program, implemented by NAMIC. This mentoring program was created to help member’s achieve career success by enhancing on-the-job effectiveness and career strategies. This program aids their members in attaining future professional and personal goals.

Create Value Through Mentoring Relationships

The value your members achieve from your mentoring program is dependent on their mentoring relationships. The first step to creating a successful relationship is ensuring that your mentors and mentees are effectively matched. Many professional associations are utilizing mentoring software as an effective way of ensuring the right mentors and mentees are entering a relationship. 

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants entered the new year with 96% of their 2,620 mentees being matched with a mentor. These matches will bring success to the program and the participants, leading to value for everyone involved. 


Benefits of Mentoring for Professional Associations

Implementing a mentoring program will bring innovation to your association and provide your members with value that they actually want. They will have the opportunity to receive professional resources, acquire new skillsets and expand their network. But your members aren’t the only ones that will benefit from a mentoring program. Your professional association will also see benefits. 

Recruit New Members
Providing a mentoring program is necessary if you want to attract new members to your association. Mentoring gives your members the opportunity for continued professional development that they are looking for. With 60% of generations looking to professional associations to fill this need, the expectation is already set that your association will have a mentoring program. 

Improve Member Retention
With the decrease in memberships over the last year, professional associations have adopted innovative programs, like mentoring, to improve member retention. By providing a mentoring program, you will effectively increase the number of members that renew with your association each year.

Build a Knowledge Sharing Culture
Like many companies, professional associations must consider the type of culture they build for their members. Your association must create a community where members can come to network and share knowledge. 

Successful mentoring relationships facilitate knowledge sharing across your association, allowing members to learn from each other. It helps to bridge the gap between different generations of members, giving younger professionals an opportunity to gain knowledge from senior executives. 

At Insala, our more than 20 years of experience has enabled us to design and develop mentoring software that meets the direct needs of our professional association clients. Your association’s unique objectives can be achieved. Insala’s mentoring software, coupled with 20 years of experience in delivering mentoring advice to professional associations, helps you to design and implement successful mentoring programs for your members. 

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