05: Planning the mentoring program

This module is closely linked to Module 2 – Choosing a mentoring approach and Module 3 – Finding resources. This module is intended to introduce you to the process of planning the phases and activities of your program. Each of these phases – from planning the initial meeting (see Module 10 – Building the mentoring relationship) to follow-ups (Module 6 – Monitoring and evaluating the mentoring program) and finalising the program (Module 12 – Ending the mentoring program) – is addressed in further detail in subsequent modules.

After reading this section you should:

● understand the benefits and challenges associated with one-on-one vs group mentoring, and group intakes vs ongoing matching

● be able to plan the key phases and associated activities of your program.

Key questions to ask yourself

  1. What mentoring approach did you choose, and what are the core components of this approach?

  2. What resources (including your team) have you identified?

  3. Will mentees and mentors contribute to the program design, and if so, how?

5.1 Planning your program - phases and activities

Table 1 in Module 2 – Choosing a mentoring approach summarised the core components of each of the four mentoring approaches presented in this toolkit. For example, a face-to-face program will almost always involve an initial orientation workshop, and any ongoing/long-term mentoring program would likely involve some form of check-in and/or follow-up meetings.

Despite these common components, there are many different ways that these approaches can be implemented. How you plan and design your program will depend on the objectives, Theory of Change, resources, and team you identified in the previous modules. Deciding on the scale of program you want to run – how many participants, from where, and over what time frame – is also an important step before starting to plan the details of your program.

The next step is to map out the key phases and activities that you will include in your program. Table 4 below takes you through some of the key decisions you will have to make in designing your program.

Table 4: Mentoring program elements

Program element




Appropriate contexts

1. Initial introduction (see Module 10 – Building the mentoring relationship)

Face-to-face meeting

  • Chance to get to know each other and establish the relationship in a supportive, facilitated setting

  • Establishes group connections (when cohort-based)

  • Resource intensive

  • Requires all participants to be available at the same time and location

  • Face-to-face mentoring programs

  • Group intakes

  • Event-based mentoring (introduction held immediately prior to or during the event)

Virtual introduction (e.g. via email or Skype)

  • Less resource intensive

  • Allows for international/remote matching

  • Less opportunity to build a strong connection

  • Email does not allow for in-depth, facilitated meeting

  • Online/remote mentoring programs

  • Event-based programs (note: event-based programs may be designed to include a facilitated face-to-face meeting)

  • Face-to-face programs with ongoing matching

2. Ongoing support and facilitation (note: these options are not mutually exclusive; see Module 11 – Maintaining the mentoring relationship)

Scheduled check-ins

Provides ongoing guidance, motivation, and potential conflict management

Time intensive

Core component of any ongoing/long-term program

Follow-up face-to-face meeting(s)

Allows participants to reconnect as a group

  • Resource intensive

  • Event-based and online participants may live too far apart

  • Face-to-face programs

  • Event-based and online programs, depending on location of mentees and mentors

No follow-up following initial introduction

Does not require additional resources following initial meeting

Less likely to result in long-term benefits

Generally for event-based programs only (where no ongoing mentoring is planned)

5.2 Taking a flexible approach

However you design the mentoring program, it should be flexible enough to enable mentees and mentors to develop their own personalised approach. Asking mentees and mentors what they want out of a mentoring program and providing them with the opportunity to tailor their approach to their particular needs and situation will increase the program’s chances of success.

Take action!

  • Plan the key phases and activities of your program. For each phase (introduction, follow-up, finalising), include:

    • activity (what will occur – be as specific as you can, e.g. initial orientation workshop, face to face, one day, all mentees and mentors)

    • how often it will occur (e.g. phone check-in with each mentee every 3 months, for 12 months)

    • specific resources you will need.

  • Together with members of the team, start a project planner to map out the tasks that need to be done, who will take responsibility for each task, and the due date for each task.



Dinesh, YPARD Nepal Country Representative, talking about his decision to choose an online group (mentees and mentors) mentoring approach, and the benefits and challenges associated with planning a program of this sort.

Maggie, YPARD Philippines Mentoring Coordinator, sharing the process involved in planning the YPARD Philippines face-to-face mentoring program.