In addition to providing opportunities for associations based in Luxembourg to network with their Brussels counterparts, the event focused on two main topics: ‘Strength in Numbers’ was designed to discuss the benefits of coalition building, while ‘Membership Engagement’ took the form of an insightful panel discussion presenting case studies.
“In the advocacy space, alliances are paramount.” This was well put by Wouter Lox, Secretary General at AIJN, who urged the audience to develop meaningful partnerships. “When it comes to advocacy, alliances are important to be heard and seen on European level, especially in these times when online advocacy has become a thing. Sometimes, alliances come from a change in regulations, which can basically force associations to forge relationships that can have a greater impact towards policy-makers. Sometimes alliances grow organically: after all, we’re stronger together.”
“Partnerships have everything to do with a shift of mindset.” Those were the words of Zhanna Kovalchuk · Executive Director at ESSKA. By definition, associations and association boards can be a bit conservative. “And the only time they are open to change is whenever there is a crisis, like the one we have all experienced over the past two and a half years now. For meaningful partnerships to happen, you have to able to have an open mind, and sometimes look outside of your ‘traditional’ circle. It’s a matter of being agile. Only agile associations can be future-proof.”
‘Engage all segments of your membership base.” Joyce Dogniez, Vice President, Community Engagement, the Internet Society, was keen on advocating for the younger generation. With a growing community of individual members, organization members, chapters, and special interest groups, associations tend to prioritize only certain segments, and it’s easy to forget that it’s the younger generation that will make any organization sustainable on the long-term. “That’s why you have to cater to them in a meaningful way. Ask them what they need, ask them what they wish for, be sure you meet their expectations. Only by doing that will make sure you stay relevant.”