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Part of the AIGA Insights series, which aims to meet members' expectations for openness and transparency
AIGA plays a variety of roles as the professional association for design. It must:
AIGA seeks to be a model of an
effective professional association (and, in fact, is featured by
The Center for Association Excellence in recent research on a model for
addressing the changing expectations for member engagement). In this
regard, AIGA sets high standards for management, governance and
accountability for itself. It is, after all, a business as well as a
community and its ability to sustain support for designers well into the
future depends on its responsible management and adaptiveness.
In AIGA’s proposed strategic framework, the fourth of four focuses is on this largely institutional role: Focus on Organizational Viability.
For the sake of a higher-level discussion on what AIGA should be doing to serve the interests of members, we provide examples of current and proposed activities. In AIGA’s budgeting process, the activities would be developed completely, with purpose, expected outcomes, metrics for success and resource requirements.
1. Establish an endowment that will help fund the organization in perpetuityAn
endowment, invested to generate annual income and growth, would provide
a sound foundation as AIGA pursues a role in supporting the future of
the profession, even as the nature of civic organizations change. While
AIGA has a valuable asset in its current building, it does not have a
properly invested endowment that provides flexibility and return.
AIGA sold its current building, as part of a transformative scenario, it
would result in net revenues of approximately $20 million. AIGA would
invest approximately $7 million in a new, more practical office space
and $13 million in professionally managed endowments. This action would
create a firm foundation for the long-term future.
2. Create sufficient operational reserves to help weather economic downturnsNearly
every association is undercapitalized, which reduces its long-term
viability, for it has no flexibility to maintain service levels through
business cycles. By developing more liquid investments and additional
investment income, AIGA will be more agile and flexible in operating for
the long term rather than the short term.
3. Maximize earned and contributed revenue opportunities through fees, sponsorship, planned gifts, etc.AIGA
has grown in the past through a revenue plan based on membership fees,
program fees (conference fees and competition fees) and sponsorship.
AIGA is committed to increasing non-dues revenues. This initiative would
require increasing staff to focus on additional revenue potential,
based on a solid plan for developing these revenue sources. These are
likely to include advertising and partnerships to offer discounted
services to members.
4. Seek new opportunities to support initiatives and programs through foundation and governmental grantsAIGA
has increased its grant funding and will continue to do so. This does
not cover core operational expenses, but it does allow for funding
5. Ensure that organizational resources (staff and budget) reflect and support key prioritiesThe
transformation of AIGA will require adapting staff for new roles and
functions. All current activities will be evaluated before being funded
in coming years; budgeted resources will be allocated only to the
highest priority activities for which there are program plans that will
make effective progress likely. AIGA’s policies and practices assure
that the board has the information necessary for annual budget review.
6. Routinely review and report on the efficacy of key programs and initiatives to the boardThe
board has accountability for the effective use of resources; management
is committed to transparency and effective review of financial
decisions and consequences.
7. Ensure effective and transparent communications among board, staff, chapters and membersEvery
effort is made to provide complete information to board, staff,
chapters and members through accessible websites and servers. Management
is always available for questions.
This session took place on September 13, 2013. Click here for the recording of this webcast.
Richard Grefé, AIGA executive director
Ric is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. He is generally involved in all of AIGA's activities, although his major contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers and advocating the value of design.
AIGA is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2014, and the AIGA board of directors is developing a strategic plan to take the organization into its second century. We want to hear your input!
To facilitate the conversation, we’ve published a series of Insight articles and webcasts about AIGA’s strategy. We invite all members to comment on the articles and participate in an “AIGA Strategy” series of webcasts with Ric Grefé and the board to learn more about AIGA’s strategic framework and share your
AIGA Insights is a collection of articles and webcasts that together reveal the thought processes behind key organizational decisions. We welcome discussion from members and the broader design community.
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