Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit

This Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit provides the tools, resources and support to create, implement, deliver and evaluate a quality group mentoring program for girls, ages 9-13, in your community. The Toolkit is intended to be used in a range of communities, and can be adapted to the unique values, needs, strengths and challenges that each community encompasses.

Support & Retention

Retention and Recognition

You may consider some of the following recognition tactics:

  • Celebrations such as a celebratory dinner for mentors.
  • Team-building opportunities such as circus training or movie nights.
  • Guiding mentors to develop a support network through separate mentor debriefing sessions.
  • Certificates or other professional development opportunities.

Volunteer mentors are more likely to stay involved in the program if they feel that their time and energy is valued. According to Volunteer Canada (2012), “Research reveals that volunteer recognition is tied to volunteer retention rates. Volunteers who feel their contributions are appreciated are more likely to uphold their volunteer commitments.”

Mentor retention is often related to how supported and well-prepared mentors feel in the program. Therefore, retention involves more than just thanking mentors (though that is an important piece). The U.S. Department of Education Mentoring Resource Centre (2009) explains further:

“People who volunteer need an experience that is personally satisfying, with an organization that shows its appreciation by providing the tools, training, and support needed to do the job well. They need to feel:

  • Appreciated
  • Useful
  • Successful
  • Involved/empowered
  • Committed/connected to your organization
  • Fulfilled by the experience
  • Important – the work they do is recognized by the larger community

It’s important to remember that volunteer retention is an outcome, not a task. Unlike recruitment, you can’t set out to “do” volunteer retention. Your success in achieving this outcome will be the result of a comprehensive set of approaches, strategies, and activities that help keep your volunteers engaged.” 

The U.S. Department of Education Mentoring Resource Centre (2009)

“Poor volunteer management practices result in more lost volunteers than people losing interest because of changing personal or family needs. The best way for volunteer organizations to receive more hours of volunteer service is to be careful managers of the time already being volunteered by people of all ages and from all strata of our volunteer society.”

- McCurley (2005)

One of the best strategies to retain your volunteers is to run a quality program. In addition, it is very worthwhile to give additional thought to how your organization can thank mentors for their contribution and investment. This could include: A celebration or banquet event; personalized cards to celebrate holidays and birthdays or to just say thank you; engaging the mentees to participate in a thank-you activity such as writing a poem or creating a piece of art for the mentor; sharing the positive outcomes that you see from the program; and regularly sharing positive feedback about what the mentors are doing well.

Key Take-Aways

Supporting mentors and mentees well is a critical step in retaining program participants and ensuring program safety. When developing this program component, be sure to reflect on the following:

  • The methods of supervision and support provision and how these components will strengthen your program and manage risk.
  • The importance of volunteer recognition and the role it plays in retention.
  • Approaches and strategies to aid in volunteer recognition and retention.

Contact: mentoringgirls(at)canadianwomen.org