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Octavio Peralta

303 posts
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: obp@adfiap.org

ROI and COI: A tale of two metrics

MOST of us are familiar with the term “return on investment,” or ROI, a metric that helps us understand the profitability of an investment. ROI is the ratio of net income (over a period) to investment (costs of investing a resource at a certain point in time). A high ROI means the investment has made significant gains compared to its cost.

Making association leaders matter

JANUARY, named after the Roman god Janus, is the time for beginnings and transitions. It is the first month of the year when you start planning and set new goals. The pandemic, however, has added a new dimension in the way organizations now plan and operate.

Kick-Start 2023: Be a Future-Ready Leader

IF you have a motorcycle, then you know that to make its engine run, you need to kick-start it by pushing a ratcheting lever with your foot. Figuratively, “to kick-start” is to kick off a project or initiative, i.e., start a process and get things in motion. To kick-start also means to make something happen more quickly or improve on it.

Staying ahead with LEAD

IN my experience in over 30 years—and counting—as an association executive, I have come to the conclusion that leadership is about people, planning and passionate execution or what I call the “3 Ps of Leadership.” This is sub-divided into four elements with the acronym “LEAD.”

The ‘5G Association’: Old and new

NEVER has digital technology development and innovation for associations accelerated than during the Covid-19 global pandemic. New and enhanced video-conferencing platforms, learning-management systems, association-management software, online communities and the like proliferated in the association world in such a short time.

Associations and Banking

THERE is no arguing that associations and business organizations learn from each other on management practices and models. For example, some businesses have adopted the associations’ membership-like activities while some associations have undertaken business-like revenue generating ventures.

Your Association as a Change Agent

YOU must have heard these terms before: change agent, change champion, change ambassador, or change catalyst. It means someone within or outside the organization who promotes and enables a new way of improving things, e.g., business model transformation, management restructuring, process reengineering, or digital adoption.

On Business Pivots and Associations

YOU must have heard of the oft-cited business term “pivot,” which means a company altering an aspect(s) of its core products or services to better meet demand, changing their target market, boosting sales or any combination of these. It could also mean adopting a significant change to its operations or business model. The end goal of a pivot is to help the company survive and thrive.

PICC: What it takes to be a National Cultural Treasure

THE Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Asia’s first convention center, has reached another milestone in its 46 years of existence. The National Museum of the Philippines has officially declared it as a National Cultural Treasure (NCT). The PICC complex is itself a work of art by National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin.

Out of sight, out of mind: A no-no for associations

AS I was thinking about what to write for this week’s column, I chanced upon a short article entitled “People Forget” from “Our Daily Bread,” a 365-day devotional booklet I read first thing in the morning. It tells the story of a churchgoer who curiously asked the priest why he repeats his sermon from time to time, to which the pastor replied, “People forget.”

Associations in the Community Business

ASSOCIATIONS are not in the events business but in the community-building and communications business. This means that associations have to take a step back and reimagine the way they are building their communities and what the long-term member engagement strategy could look like. Digital is not a threat, but a massive opportunity for associations to engage and grow their communities and have bigger, more continuous, impact.

The phoenix and associations: communication and public relations

LIKE the legendary phoenix, associations have begun to gradually rise from the ashes of the pandemic—from holding purely remote and virtual communication that kept the members at bay, to cautiously holding blended and in-person events. The question to ask in the context of communication is, “What communication approaches do associations need at this time?”

Developing an association credentialing program

A year after the founding of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) in November 2013, it has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop its own credentialing program to advance association governance and management for associations and other member-serving organizations in the country.

Press release Do’s & Don’ts for associations

ASSOCIATIONS do public good but not many of these good deeds are known to the public. In my talks to associations in my capacity as founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE), I always tell my audience, “Doing good is one thing but communicating this good to the public is another matter.”

Association membership engagement plan

MEMBERSHIP engagement sits right in the middle of the US-based Marketing General, Inc.’s five-stage membership lifecycle framework which consists of awareness, recruitment, engagement, retention and reinstatement. Being in the middle of the lifecycle is auspicious as membership engagement determines success for the association if done well and failure if neglected.

Traits of a future director

AS a kid growing up, I have always been fascinated with anything futuristic: aliens, spaceships, galaxies, universe and the like. While these things still attract me to this day, the “futurist” in me has ventured into other topics such as trends, scenarios and foresights, to enrich my professional life.

Is association volunteering still viable?

IS association volunteering still viable? This is the question Peggy Hoffman, president of Mariner Management, posed in a recent webinar organized by the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) entitled, “Re-engaging Members as Volunteers in Across the Spectrum.” Mariner Management is a US-based association management company and consultancy.

Governance Demystified

THE word, “governance” is derived from the Greek verb, kubernaein, which means “to steer.” However, the use of the term in its current broader sense gained prominence only in the 1990s due to fraud and malfeasance in public and private institutions, as well as subsequent reports and norms disseminated by multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank and laws enacted by governments (e.g., the US Sarbanes and Oxley Act).

Setting a strategic board meeting agenda

“THE way a board agenda is structured will dynamically affect the quality of board focus and its ability to handle the big decisions that are required to create the future. This is further supported by the quality of board reports that provide succinct, focused information that facilitates the Board to understand the choices they have.”

Members on your side

THE pandemic has changed the way customers engage with businesses. The new customer has different wants and needs, and businesses that succeed understand the new customer journey and solve customer problems that really matter.

Understanding DEI in Associations

I first came to know about the term “diversity and inclusion,” or “D&I,” as a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). In August 2011, its board of directors approved a 3-year D&I strategic plan anchored on the principle that a diverse and inclusive organization is one that can attribute high performance to composition, culture and infrastructure for collaboration.

Not your grandma’s non-dues revenue

IN my post about five years ago on October 5, 2017, “Beyond Traditional Revenue Sources,” I wrote about non-dues revenues (NDRs) which associations are now opting for as an alternative or supplemental business model. Aggravated by the pandemic, the days of associations relying mainly on membership dues to survive is over.

New member onboarding plan a must

I only became familiar with association member onboarding midway in my career as an association executive. I knew much earlier the concept of onboarding is commonly used in human resource management, which refers to the process of fully integrating new employees into the workplace and to bring them “on board” to the company culture. Onboarding thus goes beyond what we knew as orientation as it takes longer and involves not only HR officers, but also co-workers, managers and mentors.

A Daily Dose of Devotion

I usually start my day reading a page in “Our Daily Bread,” a 365-day devotional booklet where I find inspiring human stories and biblical passages to deepen my faith. Since it’s Holy Week, the most sacred week in the Christian church year, I’m sharing a few short captions from the publication. I labeled these anecdotes in relation to associations, their work, and advocacies.

Lonely at the top

I FIRST heard the phrase “it’s lonely at the top” decades back when I took up a university leadership course. I learned then that many executives shared the sentiment that more than half of CEOs experience feelings of loneliness in their careers.

Of building a team, a community and a house

SEPTUAGENARIANS like myself are supposed to be enjoying retirement time, taking it slow and easy, playing with grandkids, traveling and visiting friends and relatives, catching up on readings, or writing memoirs. But here I am and still at it, helping a non-profit organization build a secretariat team, volunteering for an association to build an online community, and working with the family to build a house in our hometown.

Strategies outside the plan

I was first introduced to strategic planning ten years into the start of my professional career when I joined the management team of a big financial institution. Then I got more familiar with it when I became a member of the C-suite of an international association. So, 30 years later, I am now confident to facilitate a strategic planning session.

The ‘Stone Soup’ story, collaboration and associations

THE “stone soup story” is an old tale that has many versions and variations. It tells of a poor and hungry man who came to a village asking for food; but no one wanted to spare. So he puts water and a stone in a pot and boiled it over a fire. Curious and intrigued, the villagers watch him as he starts to stir his “soup.” Eventually, one villager brings a couple of potatoes to add to the mix then others followed suit with a few carrots, onions and a handful of herbs. A farmer donates salt, pork and milk. All of a sudden, the “stone soup” becomes tasty chowder!

Must-have for membership marketing

THE perennial question of a prospective member an association’s membership recruitment officer must answer is: “What’s in it for me?” or “WIIFM.” Your prospect’s needs should be top of mind as you make your marketing pitch, as it will be considered from the point of view of WIIFM. That’s why it’s critical to talk about the benefits of membership rather than the features of your products services—literally telling your prospects what’s in it for them.

Association leaders as VIPs

AS we usher in the New Year, it’s but fitting to salute all associations, their leaders, members, and volunteers, for being resolute, resilient and re-imaginative during this pandemic. Having attended hundreds of virtual association meetings, forums, and conferences these past two years, I have come to a conclusion that associations everywhere have adapted and survived this global crisis.

The ACT of Membership Engagement

MEMBER engagement has always been a challenging task for associations as it straddles right between recruitment and retention in the membership journey. It actually starts during prospecting and accelerates when a member joins. It must be sustained during membership; otherwise, retaining the member will be difficult.

The 20-Minute Association Rock Star

I have never thought in my wildest dreams I will be a rock star! Recently, I had my “20-minutes of fame” as I was interviewed by Associations Rockstars, a US-based peer group created during the onset of the pandemic and now has over 600 members. It is one of the brands of Vista Cova, a boutique firm of expert facilitators headed by Lowell Aplebaum, which supports strategic planning, member engagement and governance design.

Association membership model review

THE pandemic has made associations review their membership models to ensure they will stay relevant and sustainable into the future. A membership model (i.e., how your membership, communications, content, and dues rates are organized and structured) is key to attracting, recruiting, and retaining members.

Race to relevance: The challenges for associations

I RECENTLY attended a webinar presented by American association management expert and consultant, author, and professional speaker Mary Byers, entitled “The Race for Relevance in Post-Pandemic Times.” The webinar was organized by “Answers for Associations,” an Australian online community of associations headed by Angela Shelton.

Managing a lean association staff: The essential aspects

I recently participated in a virtual meeting of the European Society of Association Executives, with the theme “How to Run a Lean Secretariat?” As part of ESAE’s “Association Leadership Circle” series, the session aimed to exchange experiences and case studies among its members on how to achieve an outstanding performance despite limited resources. The pandemic has made this challenge even more daunting.

Short, sweet, and sharp planning sessions

ONE lesson I learned early during this pandemic is the need to plan short term as everything is tentative and fleeting. So I invited Dot Miller, founder and CEO of The Solutions, a management company based in Colorado, United States of America., to speak to our association community on “Sprint Strategies: How to Engage your Members to Move your Organization Forward.”

Data mining and the ‘Trampoline Effect ’

AS a kid growing up in the countryside, I remember being excited every time the circus came to town. But unlike the grand circus we have today, those in the villages had a limited show offering; its highlight was when clown-clad acrobats did their stunts on one big trampoline.

Big value in small doses

WHEN relating to existing and prospective members, many associations still fall into the trap of communicating value by enumerating their knowledge content, products, and features instead of highlighting what members value more: solving problems, advancing careers or the industry, or linking them up with their peers and their markets. The pandemic has amplified these needs from members.

Tiered membership: The power to choose

I have read that there are two sacred cows in association management dynamics: governance structure and membership model. Based on my experience, there is some truth to this observation. Most associations are either reluctant or unable to advance the idea of touching, let alone changing, these two critical issues for fear of prolonged and heated discussions within the board and among members.

Advancing good governance in associations

ON the invitation of the Brussels-based AssociationWorld Foundation, I recently attended its webinar on “Moving from Governance to Good Governance” together with 37 participants from international and European associations and non-profit organizations. The virtual event was also an occasion to launch its “Good Governance for Associations Initiative” campaign in collaboration with international and European key partners.

What associations can learn from museums

YOU may wonder what associations and museums have in common. For one, both have been adversely affected by the ongoing pandemic in terms of declining budgets and revenues, having postponed or cancelled events, going digital out of necessity, and re-imagining what they will be like in the future. Both, too, have shown remarkable resilience.

PCAAE & BusinessMirror: 5 years on

FIVE years, 236 column articles, and countless promotional exchanges marked the continuing partnership of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) and BusinessMirror since signing a memorandum of agreement on June 29, 2016.

Walking in your members’ shoes

YOU may have encountered the phrase or expression “take a walk in your customer’s shoes.” Figuratively speaking, it means stepping into your customers’ world to understand and appreciate their needs and/or their pain points to serve them better. In the context of associations, we will change the word “customers” to “members” as members of an association are its main customers.

Changing of the guard

AS a kid and even now, I always find it fascinating to watch the “changing of the guard” ceremony in monuments of heroes and historical edifices. I am fortunate to have watched a few of these at the Arlington National Cemetery in the US, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Kremlin in Russia, the Buckingham Palace in England and our own Jose Rizal Monument in the Luneta Park in the Philippines.

Inclusion in associations: Having a seat at the table

I first learned about “D+I,” or “Diversity plus Inclusion,” from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) where I am a long-standing member. This was three years ago when the ASAE Board of Directors approved its D+I statement and strategic plan that encapsulates its commitment to D+I, pledging to: (a) practice inclusion; (b) pull in diverse backgrounds and perspectives to enrich group capabilities; and, (c) point out opportunities to support equitable work environments and behaviors.

Associations as legacy makers

MANY things have happened since I first wrote here about legacy in the context of associations (“Legacy of Associations,” March 14, 2018). For one, the pandemic has put a stop on travel and business events, e.g., conferences and congresses, which are important activities that associations offer to their members. On the other hand, it gave momentum for associations to plan long term and think deeply on the impact these events provide, not only to members, but also to the destination.

MV+MX=ME

NO, “MV plus MX equals ME” is not a mathematical nor a physics formula. But yes, it is nonetheless a formula for an effective association membership engagement strategy. Let me explain.

‘Navel-gazing’ strategy for revenue generation

I recently attended a webinar on “How to Diversify and Increase your Revenue Stream?” organized by the Answers for Associations, an Australian online community of associations. It was presented by Deanna Varga, managing director of Mayvin Global, a consultancy specializing in the delivery of commercial and revenue generation solutions for associations, tourism, business events and the arts.

Save the associations

THE first time I “e-met” Sarah Sladek, American best-selling author, association membership growth strategist and futurist, was when I attended the webinar of the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) in June last year. I also wrote about it in my June 19, 2020 column entitled, “All-Star Cast on Association Membership.”

The ‘science’ of membership marketing

A couple of feedback from participants in our recent PCAAE webinar on “Top Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Members” has prompted me to write today’s column article. When we asked the attendees to name their key takeaways from the webinar, they mentioned that they now realize that membership marketing is a “science” and it involves a multi-channel and multi-touch approach.

American Associations Day

I first wrote about public policy advocacy for associations in my March 19, 2021, column where I described “grassroots and grasstops” campaign tools. These are used by the American Society of Association Executives (Asae) to voice out issues its members care about and to reach out to elected officials and policymakers in Capitol Hill, i.e., the United States Congress in Washington, D.C.

Save the associations

THE first time I “e-met” Sarah Sladek, American best-selling author, association membership growth strategist and futurist, was when I attended the webinar of the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) in June last year. I also wrote about it in my June 19, 2020 column entitled, “All-Star Cast on Association Membership.”

The ‘science’ of membership marketing

A couple of feedback from participants in our recent PCAAE webinar on “Top Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Members” has prompted me to write today’s column article. When we asked the attendees to name their key takeaways from the webinar, they mentioned that they now realize that membership marketing is a “science” and it involves a multi-channel and multi-touch approach.

American Associations Day

I first wrote about public policy advocacy for associations in my March 19, 2021, column where I described “grassroots and grasstops” campaign tools. These are used by the American Society of Association Executives (Asae) to voice out issues its members care about and to reach out to elected officials and policymakers in Capitol Hill, i.e., the United States Congress in Washington, D.C.

The State of Associations: Australia

BEING affiliated with the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations (APFAO), I was invited by the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) to the recent launch of its “Association Insiders” webinar series. AuSAE is the premier not-for-profit professional society representing over 10,000 individual leaders working in associations in Australia and New Zealand.

Grassroots and grasstops

IT was the first time that my organization, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE), the “association of associations,” has delved into the subject of public policy advocacy. It is not that we’re not interested in the topic; it is just that we do not have a body of knowledge on it yet.

Stand out with a VIP

I recently attended a webinar on “2021 Plans and Possibilities” by Kirryn Zerna and, although it was not necessarily focused on associations, I was pleasantly surprised to have something to share with associations.

STEPS to Next-Level Associations

AS purpose-driven, mission-focused organizations, associations provide their key stakeholders with at least four main benefits: (1) learning (training programs, certification and credentials), (2) knowledge (specialized publications, studies and standards), (3) community (platform to network, co-create and collaborate on services), and (4) advocacy (preparing position papers, public policy work, and testimonials). So what else can associations do to boost their stock even more and bring them to a higher level?