Why do you invest your time & efforts in association work?
I have been involved in associations since my early years in school clubs, continued throughout my university time and do so today working at European level.
I am investing my time in this field because of its social mission and utility. It helps to connect dots, building bridges and breaking silos between people and systems. It allows you to make a difference in society and people’s life by voicing their concerns and creating safe spaces to grow personally and professionally while helping society prosper.
For these reasons, I have pretty much dedicated my life to the world of associations: I am currently the Director of Lifelong Learning Platform (EU-wide network of networks in the education and training field), as well as a Steering Committee member of Civil Society Europe and since January 2020 the co-chair of the European Economic Social Committee Liaison Group of Civil Society Organisations. But that’s not all 🙂 I volunteer for a local culture association Konitza and I am an active member of two global professional associations: Project Management Institute and the International Association of Facilitators. These are only a few of the most recent engagement.
What are the top three success factors of impactful association work?
- The collective effort: membership-based networks of people that work together.
- A shared social mission: driven by social challenges and shared values.
- People’s centred approach: every individual’s unique potential matter.
Like many other sectors, associations can end up having rigid and obsolete structures – especially if we are not able to innovate our organisational structures.
What should we #ChooseToChallenge when it comes to association work?
We must challenge our organisational culture to reflect the diversity in the society, be more inclusive and become true co-creation spaces for all.
We must get rid of many rigid procedures, slow decision-making process, top-down approaches and elitist recruitment policy. Everyone in society deserves to have a safe place to learn, share and create a better future through associations in the area of their interest.
How is the association sector dealing with diversity and inclusion? Has it changed?
There is slow progress towards more diverse and inclusive associations. Some of us have put diversity and inclusion strategies in place to address it but we are far from achieving an optimal level and a lot more needs to be done.
I would recommend to focus first on empowering those people that are the key amplifiers. Secondly, it is important to open a dialogue with members on how to become more inclusive and accessible to those that can’t afford to engage in associations or for whom we are difficult to reach. Afterwards, it may be time to put in place robust diversity and inclusion strategies. Communicating and connecting with the wider society is a key to success.