Members are the lifeblood of an association. Fully engaged, they make our associations thrive, have impact and offer a meaningful experience. But having active involvement can be hard – and when it dips, so does membership, morale, finances & results. So, how to boost engagement?
We’re investigating engagement strategies – what’s your association doing to ensure members grasp your purpose and are able to participate in your causes? Do you have a platform in place that makes collaboration easy? Are your members making progress together? How do you promote their contribution?
Bruce Douglas speaks with Jeffer London about members teaming up to make progress. As Business Development & Communications Director at Eurelectric, Bruce leads business expansion and multi-channel communications, always being on a look out for exciting collaboration opportunities within the power sector, but also with adjacent markets.
PURPOSE How do members make sense of your raison d’être?
Eurelectric is a member-led and members-based association representing the power sector. We are the voice for the industry in over 32 European countries, speaking on behalf of more than 3,500 companies, known as our full members. In order to engage with our members and integrate their expertise on key topics we operate 21 working groups with over 900 people. On top of that, we represent our business members – more than 40 corporations offering a range of products and services for the electricity industry. We also connect power utilities with the software, hardware, and knowledge providers harnessing the business and sustainability potential of electrification.
We are all committed to driving the energy transition: as we accelerate the decarbonisation of the electricity mix, we are seeking to provide Europe with a cost- efficient solution to reach carbon neutrality in other sectors of the economy. One of them is the transport sector. By working together with companies across the ecosystem, we aim to accelerate the transition to electrified, clean and sustainable mobility for Europeans.
PARTICIPATION How do your members get involved?
Our members are at the very heart of our working culture and governance. Our full members sit on our Board of Directors as well as policy working groups. Their input is key to the decisions we make as an organisation. In fact, given their wide- ranging knowledge and valuable insights, we are proud to describe our members as our “Structure of Expertise”. For that reason, all our publications, projects and events are led, supported, or developed with our members. Online meetings and collaboration have now become essential to our collaboration with members, which is now facilitated by a sophisticated internal MemberNet system. This allows real time exchange of knowledge, shared documents, meeting notes, contact details and much more.
Innovation is key. Eurelectric has always understood the need to break down silos and encourage exchanges between game changers to foster the development of those cutting-edge, forward-looking business models that are indispensable for the transition to a net-zero emissions society. This led to the creation of several collaborative hubs which include the EVision Business Hub, the Beyond Digital Platform, and the Renewables 24/7 Task Force.
PLATFORM How do your members connect and collaborate?
BD: The main collaboration with members during the pandemic has been through regular online meetings and the use of our MemberNet system, allowing engagement and exchange across multiple diverse groups. The aim is to rapidly move back to (a more limited number of) physical meetings, whilst maintaining the advantages of online collaboration.
Consensus building is central to our work, as we seek to lead the charge on Europe’s decarbonisation agenda. Our regular meetings with the members enable discussions both on technical and strategic levels, aiming to address current sectoral issues and the long-term evolution of our sector.
Their country-specific viewpoints and discussions inform our policy recommendations, position papers and studies. These exchanges are extremely valuable as they lead to the development of solid and factual evidence, which is essential when engaging with policymakers on the latest proposals on the EU agenda or setting the trend for future transformations. Our business members, meanwhile, complement our advocacy work by exchanging market experiences, challenges and solutions, and sharing business intelligence.
PROGRESS How do your members move things forward?
Thanks to a comprehensive advocacy strategy and engagement with members, all our projects have had significant impact on multiple levels. On one side, we proactively engage with policymakers to promote the joint positions and studies. On the other, we have a fully-fledged communications team which employs the press and social media to deliver our messages to a wider audience. Members also support our advocacy efforts by actively spreading the messages through their national communication channels.
PROMOTE How do you recognise a member’s talents?
We are proud to celebrate the achievements of our members by showcasing them on our website, supporting them on social media and publishing their many success stories and case studies in our newsletters. To date, we have highlighted successes from every corner of Europe – from developments in e-mobility and innovative district heating solutions, to the construction of solar and wind plants to power millions of homes. However, as much as we are happy to share our members’ stories online, we are even happier to invite them to talk about their achievements in person at our events and meetings.
POSTSCRIPT Any other advice for creating engagement?
In 2021, we were delighted to double our business-member base by welcoming market leaders such as Amazon, Daimler Truck, Google, Microsoft, Huawei, Mitsubishi, and Siemens, among others. This engagement was the direct result of providing accessible business opportunities, connections and synergies with new sectors. It shows that the power sector is fast expanding beyond the traditional scope of electricity generators, distributors, and suppliers. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that power utilities need to collaborate with the likes of Microsoft, BMW and PwC – not only to meet the net-zero policy targets, but the expectation of the consumer today.
In times of accelerated transformation, proactive communication, carefully crafted narratives, and cross- sectorial exchanges are key to finding the innovative solutions that will help us win the race against climate change. Our members value the numerous opportunities we offer to engage with each other and new sectors in an easy, open and transparent way.
Jeffer London is on the board to the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) and hosts the Facilitation Impact Awards. More info at jefferlondon.com or @jefferlondon. The IAF promotes facilitators and all who use facilitation to help people work together effectively. Looking for better facilitation? Check out IAF-world.org or talk to Jeffer directly about facilitating leadership teams and association-wide engagement initiatives.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE
Bruce Douglas is Eurelectric’s director for business development and communications. He is an astute business professional, with over 20 years’ experience in the energy sector, mostly dealing with strategic, operational and financial matters across a range of international markets. Check out Eurelectric.org or get directly in touch with Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his social media accounts.
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