NREA TOOLKIT A Guide for National Renewable Energy Associations

Getting Started:Setting Up – a National Renewable Energy Association

Step 1 – Business plan Setting up a new industry association is relatively easy – sustaining it is much harder. It helps to think through the fundamental aspects early on. This will help you to keep focus on achieving your primary goal and remaining flexible throughout the process if things didn’t work out as you had hoped. It will help you better communicate your aims and objectives to stakeholders and mobilise them effectively to contribute to these aims.

Step 2 – Incorporate your association Working with your attorney and accounting expert, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. The first thing you will need to decide on is a name for your association. Association names
    are typically very straightforward so as to be easily identifiable. They commonly include the industry and location they serve. 2.Appoint a Board of Directors and create your association statutes and by-laws.

Membership Development While it may be exciting to immediately begin contributing towards advocating an issue of general importance, it is advisable to first ensure that you focus on knowing your membership,
understanding the most important services they want from their membership, and developing
a strategy that best responds to and supports their membership needs over the long term. The following sections provide a step by step approach on how to best understand, build up, serve and retain your membership.

Guidance to conducting membership development
Step 1 – Developing membership criteria Once your membership strategy and policy
are established, the next step is to build your membership. You will need specific criteria to
attract and retain members that match your strategy and policy. Make sure that the criteria
are discussed and endorsed by your authorizing team—the board of directors, your current
members or a staff meeting. Step 2 – Gather knowledge Once you have clear membership criteria in place, the next step is to recruit your membership. Step 3 – Membership Acquisition Get going! You can use the following strategies to attract new members. Remember that your choice of method will be influenced by the amount of resources you have, the strength of the team you have, and the level of maturity of the industry in your area. Step 4 – Onboarding Process If you are successful in attracting members, it is an absolute necessity to have a smooth onboarding procedure and a team ready to deliver highquality service. Step 5 – Membership Retention It is far more important to retain members than attract new ones.

Communication Membership engagement Engaged members are more satisfied, value their
membership, and participate in more association activities. By consistently keeping members
engaged, you will attract and retain more members, and promote your advocacy agenda and increase member participation and revenue.

Step 1: Define Member Engagement As an association seeking to increase member engagement, you should begin by defining what member engagement looks like to you in
measurable numbers (e.g., blog comments, event participation, inquiries, revenue etc.) and compare that to your current status. Step 2: Assess Member Engagement Different members will participate or engage in different ways. This means some will read your content and enjoy it, but that’s all they will contribute. Others will like your content, some may share it on social media and others will provide comments or feedback. Step 3: Identify Channels and Tools By tracking members’ previous involvement, you will discover which channels and tools work
best for your messaging. Step 4: Set Your Timeframe Knowing who is engaged, who is not, and what engagement changes have occurred recently allows you to know your engagement metrics. You can now begin your engagement strategy by setting a timeframe in which you will conduct your engagement efforts. Step 5: Execute Your Strategy You’ve measured your starting engagement metrics, assessed your membership and what types of engagement you value the most. You’ve set a timeframe and created a reporting structure to track changes over time. Step 6: Assess your Effectiveness Are your member engagement strategies working?
The best way to assess your engagement strategy is to begin before the strategy is implemented by documenting current engagement levels (Step2). This is the baseline against which you will compare your results to in order to see if there was a change. Use your original scoring system that you used to assess initial engagement, noting what your engagement efforts did for your entire membership, specific member sectors and individual members. Analyse your efforts through a variety of parameters to optimize your findings and apply them to make improvements or repeat your member engagement tactics.

Good Governance Organizational governance refers to the system of policies, mechanisms and practices by which an organization is directed and controlled. It relates to the structure and processes for decision making, accountability, control and behaviour within an organization. The way an organization is governed will strongly influence how an association’s
objectives are set and achieved, how risk is monitored and addressed and how performance is optimized. A robust and transparent governance will also often be a requirement for potential

Financial management & reporting

This section provides an introduction for the non-financial manager or leader on managing
and controlling the finances of the association in such a way that it is financially viable and
accountable. It concerns the basics of good financial management, namely: developing a
financial strategy, financial documentation and reporting, budgeting, income generation,
internal controls, and financial policies. This is geared towards enabling NREAs manage their
finances in an informed and competent way.

You will need to forecast your upcoming cash receipts and expenses and can base this on the
past, while including information about income and activities that you know are coming up. You can then create a graph that illustrates your cash flow position. It will help you to foresee and prepare for any cash flow fluctuations, especially cash flow slowdowns. An example of a cash flow graph may look something like this:

Budgeting This is the process of planning finances over a specific period of time and forecasting what you expect your actual outcomes to be against budgeted activities and anticipating changes. This will provide the financial information needed to enable the association to decide if its strategic plans are financially viable.

Resource mobilization What is resource mobilization Every organization needs enough resources to survive: it has to engage its members, meet its planned project costs and develop future programmes, remain relevant and up to date, pay staff salaries and administrative overheads and keep equipment in a good state of repair. The list is endless.

Advocacy & policy dialogue Defining advocacy What is advocacy? In simple terms, advocacy means actively supporting or expressing clear recommendations for a particular cause idea, action, or person, and attempting to persuade others to support the same cause. In the context of this handbook, advocacy refers to a deliberate effort from an industry association to influence or change particular public policies, in line with the direct interest of the association’s members.

Building a network of policy makers and influencers A successful advocacy program must create and maintain strong links with policy makers. The key to building such a network is to establish regular interactions, including at times when the industry association is not dealing with a policy issue, between the industry association and relevant policy makers. Establishing such strong relations may be useful in the medium term when another policy issue arises. The relationship with policymakers can rely on both meetings in person (preferable) and via email or other communication channels.

Data Activities Purpose and use Both qualitative and quantitative data is rapidly becoming the lifeblood of many organizations both in the public and private sector. NREAs are no
exception, as data serves as a basis for advocacy, it demonstrates the impact of its members
and it helps understanding the organization’s performance against its targets. Moreover, data
activities can become a key service to attract members if they are tailored to their needs.

Implementing data activities Step 1 – Identify the data need A data activity begins with the articulation of a need – particularly, for a NREA, the needs of its members. These needs may be satisfied directly by offering a data service to the members, or indirectly by increasing the efficiency of the NREA since this in turn benefits members. Step 2 – Assess available sources
A second important step is to research whether there is already data available to fill such need
through a review of secondary sources. This helps ensuring cost efficiency and avoiding duplication of efforts, as well as minimizing the amount of surveys the NREA members may receive. Step 3 – Decide activity type and plan In case it is necessary to collect new, primary data, make sure to plan for it properly. Good planning can help you capture richer and more
accurate data while saving time and resources. Step 4 – Build partnerships and develop data
sharing agreements Even if the data need is well articulated, it may not be feasible or preferable to engage in the activity alone. Usually partnerships are an effective way to get around the hurdle of having all the resources needed – there are many stakeholders who may
be willing to support and engage in the data activity with you. Please note that the perception
stakeholders have of your partners’ reputations and technical capacities may influence the credibility of your message. Step 5 – Create a communication plan Once the data collection is completed it is helpful to create a communication plan on how to disseminate the results. There are several considerations to bear in mind as you make decisions about how to communicate your data and to whom. You will have different audiences, each with unique data and formatting needs. Make sure you keep those needs into account as you decide how to make your data available, in which format and when. For more information – see Section 3 on communication. Step 6 – Data management After investing time and resources in collecting
data, it is important to have a good management strategy to ensure it supports your objectives
throughout time. Data management is the practice of organizing, storing, and maintaining data processes. It must always be done in a coordinated way throughout the whole organization.

Source: Solar Power Europe

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