FORUM: What is your most effective mentor recruitment message?

wantyouMentoring programs are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they recruit mentors and the messages they use to get volunteers to take the plunge and formally apply to be a mentor. Large national organizations might hire leading advertising firms to carefully craft their recruitment messages, but even the smallest local programs can come up with a meaningful “hook” that gets those prospective mentors to say yes.

The nature of these messages has been on my mind since a webinar back in July, where one of the participants shared this core message they use to recruit male mentors:  “We get overwhelming responses from women to mentor—and they do a great job.  However, a woman cannot teach a boy to be a man.  We need your help to do that!”

I was struck by the boldness of that statement, especially considering that many men feel intimidated by the scope of what may be asked of them in a mentoring relationship. But the program decided to honestly articulate their need and really put a challenge in front of these men. Of course, they also wrapped this message in other talking points and information. But their formal “ask” was also phrased boldly:  “We really need men like you, John. When can you join our program?”

So what recruitment messages does your program rely on? What messages seem to be the most effective in reaching your targeted groups? Please share your best recruitment messages and phrases in the comments below. I’m curious to see the diversity among all of your programs’ messages and see if there are any commonalities around the “pitch” that you find to be most effective.

6 Comments on "FORUM: What is your most effective mentor recruitment message?"

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  1. Bill Godwin says:

    TSMP awards a 3 year tiered scholarship to UCBerkeley sophomores who commit to and perform 3 years of mentoring a 4-8th at-risk youth at pre-approved after school mentoring programs in Oakland/Berkeley.

  2. For several years we have been posting volunteer opportunities for YES!Atlanta in the VolunteerMatch website. Because we typically get about 6 female volunteers for each male I have been experimenting with different messages. Beginning in midsummer with a new batch of listings I have been collecting statistics. Below I list each message with the number of hits and number of referrals, in order of hits:

    Make a Difference – Mentor a Teen 2,748, 81, 2.94%
    Mentor a Teen – Change Two Lives 1,903, 30, 1.57%
    Tutoring a Teen will Make a Difference 1,836, 27, 1.47%
    Are you Man Enough to Mentor A Teen? 1,262, 22, 1.74%
    Couples- Consider Mentoring a Teen 252, 6, 2.38%

    Overall 8,001, 166, 2.07%

    Of course it’s a big step from a referral to enrollment, but it’s a start.

    My idea for the Couples listing came from the positive experience my wife and I had mentoring a 14-year old girl for over a year way back at the beginning of our program in 1990.

  3. Debbie Vought says:

    I have seen many appeals over the years I thought were impactful like the “Who Mentored You, Pass it On” and “Mentor One Child, Change Two Lives” (both of which we still use). One we only recently put through our focus groups and which was widely embraced is “Our Basin, Our Kids, Our Future: Be a Mentor.” We live in a geographically isolated, rural area of Oregon (we call it the Klamath Basin) and are still stuck deeply in the recession. Folks here have a strong commitment to the land and a strong sense of place. I think this is why the phrase has won high marks in focus groups. We will soon launch the campaign so I’ll let you know how it goes!

  4. DSNI is launching a caring adults campaign to mobilize 100 caring adults to be tutors, mentors, and reading buddies for students of all ages in our neighborhood; because we know that the presence of caring and consistent adults in the lives of young people is critical to youth development and success.

    Additionally I am using material from MMP’s 20 Ways ( to market my program. My other favorite tid bit to offer potential mentors is that Mentoring Fuels our state economy: It costs on average $1,706 for a program to sponsor one youth to be mentored for one year while it costs the state on average $43,000 to incarcerate one youth for a year. That is a $41,294 difference.

  5. Melinda Pedersen says:

    I have always liked the WHO MENTORED YOU? Pass it on. Mentor a child. campaign that was developed several years ago. People have told me that it has offered them a moment to reflect on their own spark champions and how their life changed for the better because of that relationship either natural or formalized.

    Although we have not tried it yet, I know that the 100 Mentors in a 100 Days is a program that has been successful as a package not just a slogan.

  6. We are in the second year of a Mayor’s Mentoring Challenge in our region. The Mayors of the three largest cities are heading the challenge and are mentors themselves. Our latest poster campaign features the three Mayors proudly wearing their Take the Challenge button with this headline:


    Another slogan I like: What are you waiting for? Be a mentor.

    There are so many others. I look forward to reading those of program directors.

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