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Association work programming cycle

OPTIMISM currently runs high for associations to recover lost ground in 2020 and move on better to 2021 as light can now be seen at the end of the tunnel of this global pandemic with the rollout of vaccines in some parts of the world.

Associations, however, need to do their part as inaction could either spell stagnation or demise. Below is a suggested cycle of quarterly programming actions which may help hasten your association’s recovery process:

First Quarter: This period is the most critical time that will carry your association throughout the year.

At the outset, conduct a series of  sprint strategy planning meetings (could be virtual) for your Board and staff to map out the work program for the year. Make these sessions short and sweet; highlighting only the “do-ables” that will resonate well and be relevant to your members.

Prepare a corresponding budget that covers the work program set. Put in place an adaptable organizational structure to carry out the plans, including a performance monitoring system to measure accomplishments vis-à-vis the work program.

With the work program and budget done, prepare a calendar of activities, preferably on a monthly basis, and disseminate this soonest to your members alongside doing the required logistics. For example, if you are conducting webinars, provide detailed descriptions, speakers, timing, and delivery platform to be used and registration fees.

Do this for other member benefits as well such as e-publications and knowledge resources.

Second Quarter: Continue reviewing the work program and tweak, if needed.

Organize stakeholders meetings with your members and partners to get feedback and/or fresh programming ideas. There may be scope as well to conduct short (three to five questions) surveys on your members’ need for solutions they are seeking. Should there be offers for collaboration from other organizations, study them and, if they provide added value and are beneficial to your members, include these in the monthly schedule.

This is the time, too, to reach out to other associations and like-minded organizations and explore areas of collaboration. As we know now, collaboration is the new currency for organizational success.

Third Quarter: By this time, you already have a feel for what has worked well and what hasn’t in your work program so use this data to further improve on the remaining scheduled activities.

Use this time also to take stock on the feedback you have received from your members (through surveys) and from testimonials of other key stakeholders, i.e., partners, sponsors, volunteers.

Fourth Quarter: You should have a pretty good handle on your year’s work programming by this time and so it’s apt now to reflect on the experiences you’ve had and start planning for the following year but more for the longer term. This is where a full-blown strategic planning meeting may have to be undertaken by the Board and management.

You may note that the whole year is a cycle—plan, act, react, and reflect—that will repeat itself as you go through it. With continuous improvement based on data and experience, your association has a good chance of a rebound this year.

The column contributor, Octavio ‘Bobby’ Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific, Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives and President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations. The purpose of PCAAE—the “association of associations”—is to advance the association management profession and to make associations well-governed and sustainable. PCAAE enjoys the support of ADFIAP, the Tourism Promotions Board, and the Philippine International Convention Center. E-mail: [email protected]

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