At SAYes Mentoring we want to end social poverty by helping individuals, business teams, educational institutions and community groups to “do good better”. If you think like we do, then meaningful and effective social change is something that you want to do, both for your community and for yourself. Our promise is to support that interest by offering you an authentic, personalised and professionally supported mentorship experience with a young person.


We design, deliver and support mentoring programmes for youth in transition. All SAYes Mentorship programmes provide mentor-mentee matches with scientifically credible interventions to improve mentee independence (via the quality of decision making) and well-being (via the consistency of healthy practices). Interventions are person-centred, delivered one-to-one, and span ten transition domains focused on the intervention targets highlighted by key social development indicators (e.g., literacy, freedom of expression), sustainable development goals (e.g., decent work and economic growth), and population specific challenges (e.g., institutionalisation among care leavers). In the workplace context, interventions are ultimately aligned with core government priorities such as developing priority skills, ensuring sustainable access to the economy, and/or accelerating enterprise development in a value chain.

We thoroughly prepare you for mentorship beginning with a fit evaluation to discover if mentoring is the right social change activity for you. Mentors are taught to apply a formal mentoring approach, called transition mentoring, in working one-to-one with a mentee. Training develops key organising schema and core relationship skills relevant to person-centred work. Modules focus on individual transition (e.g., levers for behavioural and perspective change), mentorship (e.g., social motivation, guidance, advocacy, support) and features of the target population (e.g., the cognitive neuroscience of adolescence). Mentors learn to leverage deliberately structured and supported relationships to improve the impact of interventions provided by SAYes.


All SAYes programmes are run on the Transition to Independent Living (TIL) platform managed by SAYes. TIL relies on mentorship along with cross-sector collaboration, digital infrastructure, and nested support to optimise meaningful  transitions. TIL includes;

  • Recruitment and screening of volunteer mentors, including local and international police clearance and background checks.
  • Volunteer fit evaluation based on a comprehensive online application and interview.
  • Transition mentorship training (for both mentors and mentees) focused on mentoring and strategic planning for personal transition.
  • Youth population training focused on working with different groups of young people in context.
  • Placement on a SAYes programme designed to support a specific youth population by providing evidence-based curricula and/or services.
  • Facilitated mentor-mentee matching using credible psychometric tools.
  • Transition mentoring face-to-face with a young person for 1 hour per week for 9 months.
  • Online transition tools, software and resources to support transition planning.
  • Business partners providing mentored youth with career opportunities and resources (products or services).
  • Non-profit partners providing mentored youth with access to additional programmes and services.
  • Drop-in sessions in a particular field or area.
  • Programme support specialists providing monitoring, transition and social work services to each mentor-mentee match.

The SAYes TIL platform is suitable for programmes serving young people between 14 and 25 years old. 


Our purpose at SAYes is to inspire and inform leaders of social change through mentoring. We are passionate about improving social impact, about reducing social inequality and about creating and supporting youth programmes to do good better.


SAYes programme support specialists are the hub of the TIL platform services, coordinating information, resources and opportunities among our partners, volunteers and programmes. They are trained counsellors, educators, coaches and social workers whose purpose is to ignite opportunities for social change by providing a professional and personalised service to each mentor-mentee match.


SAYes currently runs four Group Care Programmes on the TIL platform in Cape Town, South Africa. These programmes are designed to prepare young people currently living in, or recently exited from, Child and Youth Care Centres (Children’s Homes) for independent living.

  • TIL Care is for young people (14 – 17 years old) currently living in residential care.
  • TIL Community is for care-experienced young people (15 – 17 years old) who are living in the community as minors.
  • TIL Independents is for care-experienced young people (18 – 25 years old) who are living in the community as adults.
  • TIL Special Needs is for care-experienced young people who are neurologically atypical (14 – 25 years old).

There are many groups of vulnerable young people that could benefit from transition mentoring. SAYes-affiliated programmes work with these groups using its transition platform. SAYes manages all TIL platform services for affiliated programmes, including the training and support of volunteer mentors, while the programme curricula and/or services are provided by the non-profit partner.


SAYes helps volunteers and partners find the right programme to join.

  • We offer VOLUNTEERS the opportunity to do social change effectively with personalised and professional support.
  • We offer BUSINESSES the opportunity to improve their social impact by engaging with mentored youth.
  • We offer NON-PROFITS the opportunity to deliver more impactful programmes and services by engaging with mentored youth.
  • We offer DONORS the opportunity to support effective altruism by funding structured mentor-mentee matches.

My name is Gillian Anderson and with my friend Michelle Potter I founded SAYes in 2008 for young people living in Children’s Homes in South Africa. South Africa is one of the most unequal societies on earth, and some of the most vulnerable are those who have been legally placed in residential care for long periods of time due to abuse and neglect.

In 2005 Michelle took a break from work and studies in the UK and volunteered to coach football in Cape Town. The young people she met were living on and off the streets, but football was their religion. Not knowing anything about effective altruism, we thought an overseas football tour would be a great way to help. So we raised funds and arranged a trip to the UK. We arranged tickets to a premiership game at Stamford Bridge Stadium, a theatre visit to the West End, and a reception at the Harrodian School to meet the students and parents Michelle worked with in the UK. The young men were treated like rock stars and loved every minute of it! Before they left they had the honour of personally meeting with Nelson Mandela – who shook hands, smiled and spoke plainly to each of them in turn. “You can be no leader without education” he said. How true and how prescient. Sadly, after the tour, many of these young men returned to begging at the traffic lights and living on the streets. Some had turned 18 which meant that even had they wanted to, they could no longer return to the home.

Doing good well takes work. A little while after the UK tour Michelle returned to SA to look for a better way to help. She befriended social workers and many young people living in care, asking them what support they needed. One young man said the most difficult part for him was getting ready to leave the home. He didn’t have anyone to talk to about what was coming next and he knew he would have no state support once he turned 18. Life on the street is hard and despite being a tough young man he was scared and alone. Our hearts sank thinking of what was next.

Michelle came back to the UK and wrote a dissertation comparing transition support in South Africa with best practice in UK. She researched many different kinds of intervention and we talked and talked about what would really make a difference. We found ourselves returning to the compelling people in our own lives. People who really listen, who guide dispassionately and are unafraid to challenge. People who stay by your side no matter what. People who look for ways to propel you forward and take chances to back you up time and time again. She completed her degree, packed up and left Notting Hill for Cape Town to start SAYes Youth Mentoring.

There are so many of us who want to create social change. We want to make doing good part of our own commitment to working and living well. However there aren’t always opportunities to do so effectively. From the start we built SAYes to provide a professional service not only for young people in transition, but also for the many people who want to manageably experience doing good better.

We are very proud to have grown SAYes to serve over 100 mentor-mentee matches a year. The impact has been astonishing and this is just the beginning. We hope you will join us in creating lasting social change for yourself and for others.

SAYes is inspired by the principles of effective altruism.

SAYes honours a code of values and virtues that guide our work. This code is essentially aspirational and ethical, and is informed by best practice in person-centred work. The code is focused on the ethical quality of action or – virtue ethics – and is concerned with the personal project of being good over one’s lifetime. At SAYes, we balance this code with the principles of structured philanthropy, ensuring that in addition to being good, standards of excellence are applied to doing good.

OUR VALUES (Being Good Better)


The virtue of Integrity

Each of us commit to a specific role for a specific period of time, both for ourselves and for others. The security provided by this commitment is an essential foundation for personal growth and interpersonal collaboration. Relatedly, consistency between thoughts, words and actions build a predictable world in which we are all empowered to act decisively. We believe in, and action, integrity. 


The virtue of Independence

 Each of us has the right to think, to make choices and to take actions free from undue influence and coercion. Such freedom is constrained only by the laws of nature and the rights of others, in so far as we currently understand and define them. Rational autonomy/agency is key to independent thought, choice and action; as well as to respectful dialogue and interdependence. We believe in, and action, independence. 


The virtue of Honesty

Each of us commit to authentic communication that is thoroughly transparent (congruent). Relatedly, all discussion takes place with and by the persons involved. Unless there is an objective cause for concern, personal conversations are trustworthy and confidential. We believe in, and action, honesty. 


The virtue of Inclusivity

Each of us aspire to create and sustain fully inclusive communities. Wherever adjacent experiences are brought together with genuine humility, there is the promise of deepening and enriching ourselves and each other. This is the promise of diversity that can be realised through inclusive leadership. Leadership through histories, identities and incentives that are each acknowledged and respected. We believe in, and action, inclusivity.


The virtue of Benevolence

Each of us are motivated by kindness and the generosity of openness and connection. Through sympathetic imagination into the reality of others we find that responsibility makes sense, blame/judgement does not. This moves us morally forward, expanding our circle of concern. We believe in, and action, benevolence.


The virtue of Fairness

Each of us is sensitive to ways in which adversity and inequality affects outlook and opportunity. We bring care and attention not only to structural differences, but also to each person’s subjective experience of suffering and/or flourishing. We acknowledge both the uniqueness and the commonality of this subjective experience, and the value of rational compassion in our response. We sensitively and accurately enter the world of others, and we act in ways that are objectively supportive. We believe in, and action, fairness. 

OUR PRINCIPLES (Doing Good Better)


Does the work address a neglected, undervalued or overlooked challenge?

Many attempts to do good are not focused on the most pressing and widespread challenges. Such efforts, based on attention to a personal story or concern, often do not address the known causes of suffering for hundreds of thousands to millions. SAYes is built to target significant challenges that are objectively not receiving commensurate support – “attention is not the best way to gauge the salience of a challenge”. We believe attempts to do good should be data-driven and that they should actively seek out challenges that are widespread and regularly overlooked. 


Does the work reduce the challenge to key components?

Many attempts to do good do not adequately systemise the challenge they are trying to solve. Such efforts, fail to identify, target and sequence the support required to address key causal pathways, and thus fail to make headway or to gather useful feedback. SAYes is built on a model that logically reduces the challenges as we understand them to key components which are manageable and testable – “every organisation is a more or less well-formed hypothesis”.  We believe attempts to do good should be driven by a theory of change that predicts and directs impact, while also generating iterative cycles of testing and feedback for course correction. 


Does the work consider incentives and opportunity costs? 

Many attempts to do good do not consider the cost of short-run sentiment-based support. Such efforts, are not only often inefficient and ineffectual, they may introduce incentives which actually disempower and reinforce inequalities. SAYes is built to capture opportunities to do good better, and to be deeply responsible to those we serve – “beyond the distraction of success stories”. We believe attempts to do good should be thoughtful and deeply accountable, at every stage, and to every stakeholder.


Does the work produce predicted and measurable impact?

Many attempts to do good are not driven by evidence or reasoning. Such efforts may feel good momentarily, and express well-meaning intentions, but they are not effective in ways that can be objectively and reliably measured. SAYes is built to bring scientific expertise from the behavioural, brain and social sciences to mentoring  – “good intentions are necessary, but they are not sufficient”. We believe attempts to do good should be evidence-based and that we should test impact in ways that allow us to improve our explanations.


Does the work improve a large number of lives?

Many attempts to do good are not driven by evidence or reasoning. Such efforts may feel good momentarily, and express well-meaning intentions, but they are not effective in ways that can be objectively and reliably measured. SAYes is built to bring scientific expertise from the behavioural, brain and social sciences to mentoring  – “good intentions are necessary, but they are not sufficient”. We believe attempts to do good should be evidence-based and that we should test impact in ways that allow us to improve our explanations.


Does the work offer lasting value to partners?

Many attempts to do good rely solely on donations to address market failures. Such efforts, presume ‘beneficiaries’ and ‘programmes’ offer value only one-way and thus fail to realise opportunities for sustainability. SAYes is built to create high impact personal and professional growth for both mentors and mentees – “the life you change for good might be your own”. We offer value to independent volunteers, to business teams, and to organisations around the world, which allows us to sustain very high levels of professional support. We believe attempts to do good should offer value for value, and that partnerships should be mutually beneficial.