The Societal Impact
of Associations

9 - 10 December,
Venue: Sheikh Maktoum Hall – Dubai World Trade Centre



The program will be organised under 4 pillars:

Pillar 1: Impact and Legacy – Key Concepts
Pillar 2: Designing an Impact Management and Measurement Programme
Pillar 3: Organizational Resilience and Foresighting
Pillar 4: The Art of Collaboration

Furthermore, the following 4 themes will be explored and each session will relate to at least one of these 4 themes:

Well - Being

Knowledge &

Business &

Creativity &

Monday, 9th December, 2019

09:00  -  09:25


A Conversation with the Dubai Association Centre Founders

In this lively discussion, we will hear directly from the two DAC founders on their perception of the bigger role that associations play in global society and how to position the association sector as a key driver of positive change. They will set the scene for a day and a half of intense exploration of core association strategies around societal impact, as well as how to position the association sector as a key driver of positive change. Key areas to be addressed also cover the following:

  • Where is Dubai Association Centre today?
  • What are the legacies of the Dubai Association Conference 2017?
  • How the association scene in Dubai has evolved since then?

09:25  -  09:50


Pillar 1: Impact and Legacy – Key Concepts

Associations are facing growing pressure to attract and retain members and attendees, which has prompted
them to question themselves on how they can improve their value proposition to fulfill evolving stakeholder
expectations, how they can set themselves apart from competitive offers, and how they can better understand
and measure the positive impact that their activities are generating. This session will explore the following

  • What is the case for understanding and evaluating the social impact of associations and their activities?
  • What are the driving factors?
  • Definition of key concepts around impact: mission-driven, purpose, social impacts, legacy, broader impacts – which is which and what do these concepts mean for associations?
  • Introduction of the 4 Areas of impact: Community Well-Being / Knowledge and Research / Business and
    Opportunities / Creativity and Innovation.
  • What is the link with sustainability?


Areas of impact:

09:50  -  10:05


10:05  -  10:50


Pillar 2: Designing an impact management and measurement program

While impact measurement is necessary to communicate the value generated by one’s actions and justify ROI
from partners (or members) investing time and money, it is mostly possible as a result of a well-planned and
executed impact management strategy. But the sector of association meetings has struggled with coming up with
a concerted and impactful methodology for impact assessment for several reasons:

  • It lacks knowledge in the science of impact investment
  • There are no clear indicators for the sector and virtually no benchmarks serving as reference points
  • There are no frameworks and predictive models for use by the sector to help demonstrate the cause-to-
    effect relationships generating change
  • There’s a lack of consensus on the merit of even tracking social impact for associations and their meetings

This session will explore what an impact management program is, what it looks like and how it can be supported
through tools and techniques.

Areas of impact:

10:50  -  11:20


11:20  -  12:20


Pillar 1: Impact and Legacy – Key Concepts

Session 1: The Theory of Change for Social Impact

This session will explore how associations can initially formulate an intention of creating a positive impact, and how to go from intention to action in order to generate outcomes through the Theory of change. The main theme is further explored in four Areas of impact (based on their association subject matter) in interactive discussions (4 or 5 “discussion pods” in room) where they are asked to develop a broad theory of change per group:

  • Community Well-Being
  • Knowledge and Research
  • Business and Opportunities
  • Creativity and Innovation


Areas of impact:


Session 2:  What’s Your 2030 Strategy?

In 2015 the UN launched one of its most ambitious goals: a 2030 blueprint for a better world. Created with
massive input from business, not for profits, governments and civil society, the 2030 Agenda identifies 17
Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). But what does this mean for associations? In this session, speakers will explain the philosophy behind the SDGs, how the goals can be integrated into an association strategy, and the benefits that they can bring to associations and their members.

Learning Outcomes:

  • What are the SDGs and what do they mean for the association sector?
  • Learn how the Sustainable Development Goals provide a path for greater impact, imagination & collaboration
  • Understand how stakeholders in Dubai and other associations are integrating them into their strategy


Areas of impact:


Session 3: Impact as a Business Model

This session will be a discussion on the concept of “impact as a business model” for associations to unlock new opportunities of growth and value sharing. We will explore how associations can develop business models that are designed specifically to create positive societal impact beyond the basic operational delivery of services and products. When an organisation intentionally puts impact at the core of its business model, the focus is shifted from being activity-driven to being driven by the specific positive outcomes that are created for all their stakeholders. This elevates the organisation in the value chain and can unlock a plethora of new opportunities. We will discuss this with panelists coming from the social enterprise world and associations who have successfully made this transition.

Areas of impact:

12:25  -  13:25


Pillar 2: Designing an impact management and measurement program

Session 1: The Metrics Conversation

This session will focus on impact evaluation and indicators. We will explore how impact can be created by
associations through their programs and activities for individuals; for the organisation; and for the broader
community. We will work in small groups on identifying what we mean by “indicators of impact” (at various
levels), discuss data collection that enables this impact to be evaluated, and brainstorm on possible metrics in a
number of fields (grouped under the 4 Areas of impact). We will provide examples of how impact reports can be
used to communicate positive outcomes.

Areas of impact:

Session 2: Applying Design for Greater Impact

To design a program for impact that aligns with your association’s purpose and the changing needs of the
members makes it a more complex process and almost impossible to predict the outcome from the beginning.
Our roles are changing, we need to update our competencies with strategic thinking, and facilitative skills. In this
session we will explore the fundamentals of Design Thinking techniques and take a hands-on dive into
Storyboarding, one of the most powerful ways to co-create and prototype ideas. We will learn how to leverage
design methods in order to maximize the impact of our programs and activities.

Areas of impact:

Session 3: Cases from the Field

In this session, we will showcase the experiences of associations currently developing impact projects. Our
moderator will lead a conversation with 3 representatives of associations actively engaged in strategies aiming to
create more social value for their members and the community they serve.

Areas of impact:

13:25  -  14:45


14:45  -  15:00


15:00  -  15:45


Pillar 3: Organizational resilience and foresighting

This session will discuss the context whereby associations face stronger than ever disruptions from all sides and make the case that there is an urgent need for these organizations to learn to navigate and embrace change as a core strategy for long-term strength and agility.  The concept of “Foresighting” will also be explained, illustrating how resilience can be achieved by developing a culture of foresight and related practices. This will imply that associations will learn to recognize the signals of change, look for threats and opportunities and understand where they lie, and plan for the expected but foresee the unexpected.

The panel will showcase how resilient organizations:

  • Have a compelling vision of what they are and a clarity on their purpose and how this purpose connects to the rest of the world;
  • Develop strong governance to drive impact on their mission (and embrace new governance types); and
  • Build cross-functional teams who will be empowered to solve real problems through collaboration and innovation.

Areas of impact:

15:45  -  16:45


Pillar 3: Organizational resilience and foresighting

Session 1: Developing Agility

Our speakers will provide a deeper dive into foresighting and agility. They will carry on a dynamic conversation focusing on how associations and their communities are adapting to new economies as part of their resilience strategy, such as the Sharing / Circular / Experience / Innovation / Platform / Knowledge economies. They will also demonstrate that “Learning organisations” are organisations who:

  • Develop adaptability
  • Implement local strategies that are scalable globally,
  • Initiate sector-wide responses to external disruptions, and
  • Implement swiftly and precisely while regularly gather and incorporate feedback from inside and outside.


Areas of impact:


Session 2: Hijacking Tech for Impact

In this session, Associations will present case studies which address the following questions:

  • How various disruptive technologies can be used to increase the resilience of organizations and communities.
  • How blockchain can help problem-solving (case-studies of business model projects driven by blockchain).
  • How associations can and should be using data (big data, open data) to inform the process of resilience building, to learn to model the future and make the appropriate decisions.


Areas of impact:


Session 3: Leadership and Governance

Panelists will be discussing topics pertaining to the capacity of organisations to develop human resources policies enabling them to support innovation and transformation:

  • How can we build capacity within the association structure to become more agile?
  • How can emotional intelligence in leadership support employee health and happiness to create a thriving work environment?
  • How can building a stronger organisational culture help associations increase their mission delivery and drive impact?


Areas of impact:


End of Day


Networking Reception


Interested in becoming a
sponsor or partner in
2019? Contact us.