Category Archive: Advocacy

Nov 22 2010

European View of Member ROI – Trade Associations

In Europe, having a strong proactive public affairs outreach program is now more critical than ever as private and public communities face huge resource and financial pressures along with the focus on the impact of sustainability on  businesses and society, according to a senior panel during an American Chamber of Commerce Belgium workshop hosted at MCI Brussels.

The session featured contributions from:

  • Charles Laroche, Senior Advisor, Tällberg Foundation, former VP European External Affairs at Unilever, Board Member of such associations as CEFIC, COLIPA, as well as former President of A.I.S.E.
  • Dave Deruytter, Senior Manager Expatriates & Non-Residents ING, Board Member at Association of Belgian Relocation Companies
  • Roberto Zangrandi, Head of European Institutional Relations at Enel S.p.A.
  • Jef de Clercq, Managing Director at Engineering Services & Consultancy, Volunteer Leader at International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering)
  • Nikki Walker, VP Global Association Management and Consulting, MCI Group

Just like in the US, Europe faces a sharp decrease in public trust in the political and financial systems in member countries following the recent debt crises and the fast pace of technological change which is leading companies to operate increasingly globally and regionally while trying to ensure public and employee behavior and opinion can keep pace.

Too many European associations are ill-equipped to tackle these challenges.  Today, many are still struggling to address the  current European political reality.

Presenters offered the following tips for constructing more proactive PA programs:

  1. Influence – build strong partnerships through an interactive and well coordinated network; invest in strategic intelligence; and gain a position as a recognized authority representing your industry.
  2. Effectiveness – agree on key priorities, focus on strategic, long-term ‘must win’ (not nice to have) issues; simplify  structures through alignment and teamwork; put the right qualified people in the right places; and implement effective financial management organized by projects.
  3. Leadership – agree on a strategy inspired by the Board of Directors’ vision; ensure the engagement of company top executives (not necessarily members of the Board); empower the association staff; and have excellent internal communication processes.
  4. Trust – establish one’s reputation overtime based on competence, credibility and indisputable transparency.

Associations have to take a proactive approach to the issues facing their sector if they are to maintain their relevance to members and get their continued buy-in.


Anticipate emerging expectations through strong partnerships and mutual understanding with all stakeholders in order to best position the association as a trusted source for solutions to difficult issues through smarter regulatory policy.

Continuously develop and promote voluntary industry initiatives and bring added value to the membership and Society at large.  By being ahead of the regulatory curve, you can openly acknowledge and deliver solutions to difficult environmental or other issues affecting your industry.

Promote a strong leadership network through an interactive communication process that engages and involves all members.

Will the membership model of today still be here in 2015?

The panel seemed to think we’ll see a more customized approach with a move away from a flat membership fee to one tailored based on usage of services.   We’ll need to start reconsidering the membership structure and the value of the previously untouchable traditional ways of things.

The concluding question raised by Susanne Zänker, Director-General of AISE served as an excellent reminder to the assembled executives.  She said she was currently trying to integrate a network of nine multinational companies, 35 national associations (approximately 900 companies) and asked how a company feels its view/specific issue is being listened to through a trade association which has to represent the whole sector?

Associations must move from reacting to anticipating emerging stakeholder problems. The future of our associations will depend on our capacity to deliver appropriate content and the strategic industry overview to help policy-makers. Some associations may not be able to demonstrate such value and slowly disappear.

Focus on what is strategically important.  Be clear about what you can offer but recognizing the need for synergy with other associations to create alliances on cross-cutting issues.

Jan 30 2009

Social Media and Viral Marketing for Global Fundraising Advocacy

Experimenting in tough economic times can pay off with exciting new ways to reach stakeholders not only in far flung geographic locations but also in virtual ones.  In the world of global advocacy, finding new ways to raise awareness for your cause, educating the less informed, and raising financial support among global audiences where they spend their time requires fresh ideas to tap their interest.

The 2009 World Kidney Day Campaign is conducted in partnership between the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations represents a strong alliance between kidney health professionals and patient groups to bring global attention to the prevention and treatment of kidney disease.  MCI Brussels has provided worldwide staff support for the campaign since its inception.

World Kidney Day (WKD) aims to raise awareness about the heavy burden of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Annually celebrated worldwide on the second Thursday of March, WKD offers a crucial, visible opportunity to inform and educate health policy-makers, people who are at highest risk of CKD, and the general public that kidney disease is common, harmful and treatable.

Reaching over 60 countries through regional and local media and public promotional and training programs to promote kidney health through screenings and prevention programs, WKD and its global strategic partner network is helping to promote public health while building its own brand awareness. 

Recently, WKD’s Global Project Team has been using YouTube as a advocacy channel to spread its videos and local campaign material throughout the world.  Using the free tools to distribute and track consumption.

WKD also has a global campaign Facebook page (with volunteers creating local WKD pages too) to further promote word of mouth marketing to supplement the global and local marketing and PR programs that have been its great strengths.  This provides more easily sharing among friends and family.

New for 2009 is the use of Second Life (SL) to reach out to SL-residents as a test market where we can learn to take advantage of this new world.   Initially, the goal is to keep things simple and volunteer-focused.  So far, WKD organizers are finding that many SL-residents are very supportive of charities and willing to support worthy causes.

So far, WKD staff have created a Second Life Promotion Box, containing “virtual” notecards, poster, t-shirts and bags that have been currently placed in about 5-6 SIMS with more to come as SIM owners permit the team to put up “point of purchase” WKD stands on their “land/place” in Second Life.   In addition, staff created a WKD group that people can join.

Soon plans include to organize some WKD virtual events in SL such as a WKD-quiz, an informative discussion, and some “live” musicians to perform in order to draw people and spread the word.

Check back to find out if Second Life can provide “new life” to global fundraising.

Aug 26 2008

Sunday’s ASAE Session on Global Growth

Thanks to all for attending our session and for our panel Tom Reiser,  Helen van Oers, and Matteo Pederzoli for coming to the ASAE and Center AGM in San Diego this year.

Here are our slides from the session titled, “Local Business Strategy and Infrastructure Can Grow Business Globally.”

Note: Session was recorded by ASAE & Center so you can play them together from here.

Peter’s introduction (download and view in slide mode)

Tom’s International Society of Nephrology presentation on World Kidney Day 2008 (download and view in slide mode)

Helen’s World at Work Asia Conference presentation (download and view in slide mode)

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