Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Connecting those you know to tutor/mentor programs

We're nearing the end of National Mentoring Month. Now, what do we do for the next 11 months to assure that more kids who need mentors and would benefit from being part of comprehensive, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, are given that opportunity?

I don't know what the budget was for the National Mentoring Month advertising, but to get high profile celebrities, and to have PSAs in media all over the country, represents an expense beyond what any single tutor/mentor program, or any citywide network has.

Furthermore, I don't know what impact the Mentoring Month campaign has because I'm not sure how often the person speaking about his/her mentoring experience is pointing to the place where he/she volunteers, with a goal of drawing new volunteers and new donors to that place.

I do know that in tutor/mentor programs around Chicago and in every city there are great stories taking place every day. Here's a page on the Cabrini Connections site that introduces you to teens in our art club and shows art that they will display on February 8th in an art festival.

In January I pointed to a blog discussion where people were discussing the relative merits of story telling vs metrics as a fund raising strategy.

I believe in story telling and believe that if the thousands of men and women around the country who have been mentors, or have been helped by mentors, would tell their story consistently, they would attract more attention to tutoring/mentoring in general. If they go a step further and provide contact information for the place or places where they have been involved, the story telling can serve as advertising, to draw volunteers and donors to those places.

If they go a step further and say "where I was involved is not the only place in my city where kids need help, or the only program where people are offering tutoring/mentoring" then they can point to resources like the Tutor/Mentor Connection's Chicago Program Locator, which enable volunteers and donors and parents to search by zip code to locate programs, and to differentiate those programs between the age group served, as well as the type of tutoring and/or mentoring they offer.

I've created a Make the Connection PDF to illustrate this role of our volunteers and alumni. If more of the people who have been enriched by the tutor/mentor experience, talk about the program where they were involved, and the need that program has for volunteers and donors, the weight of these stories can become 12-months a year advertising that increases support for existing programs and helps new programs grow.

If you can incorporate the ideas of this PDF into a YouTube video, or other forms of training, please do, then send me a copy that I can post on our web site.

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