Start a new chapter
The unusual strength of AIGA as a professional association is based on the engagement of its members and their eagerness to create vital communities locally, among themselves. AIGA encourages and welcomes the formation of viable local communities of AIGA members who can add local programming activities and interaction to the ethical standards, global networking and national communication about the value of design.
Establishing an AIGA chapter is not an activity to be undertaken lightly. The strength of the organization as a whole depends on each chapter creating and sustaining an active, growing presence in its community. Programs, activities and services to members at the local level are critical to the growth of the organization nationally. To initiate a chapter, the following steps must be taken.
- An interested group of designers contacts the AIGA national office to convey interest in establishing a new chapter. The group establishes a social media presence and organizes in-person events to gather interest from their community.
- The interested group downloads materials from this page, including a petition to be signed by 20 current AIGA members at the Sustaining level or higher; a description of how the AIGA community is organized; chapter performance expectations; and a chapter affiliation charter.
- The interested group contacts any nearby chapters as a way of developing communications with others in the region. Other chapters are an important source of information and best practices.
- The national office sends membership brochures and a variety of other materials to encourage membership.
- The interested designers return the completed petition, signed by the 20 current AIGA members at the Sustaining level or higher. Signers must provide valid AIGA ID numbers—prospective members need to create an account and join at My AIGA; current members may find their ID at My AIGA.
- The potential chapter organizes its board and informs AIGA headquarters of the names of officers.
- Once all requirements are met, the group is granted provisional chapter status. The national office sends sample bylaws for the provisional chapter to use as reference in drawing up its own bylaws. The national office also sends proof of AIGA’s 501(c)(3) status, a start-up grant of $1,000 and two copies of the chapter affiliation agreement to be signed. One copy must be kept by the chapter, the other returned to the national office.
- The chapter files for incorporation (often possible with an attorney willing to work pro bono) and tax exempt status within its state.
- The national office reviews and approves the provisional chapter's bylaws.
- The provisional chapter organizes events and recruitment activities. The national office sends materials and publications for distribution and display.
- The national office assists in identifying current members who may be more appropriately affiliated with the new chapter.
- Upon notification of the chapter's federal employer identification number, the national office includes the new chapter in its group exemption plan. This occurs in June each year; if these requirements are met after June, the new chapter is included in the following year’s group exemption.
- The chapter sends at least one board member to the annual leadership retreat, held each May/June; includes the national office on its mailing list for events; provides program summaries prior to the leadership retreat; and in general communicates with the national office about chapter activities. The chapter is encouraged to develop and maintain its own website using resources provided by the national organization.
- The national office communicates with chapter presidents and local board members through a monthly bulletin, monthly virtual conference meetings and periodic calls to individual chapter leaders.
This process has the potential to take several months and requires significant time and energy from the group’s leadership team. But when complete, it affects your community in highly significant and meaningful ways. If you have further questions, please contact us.
AIGA has members located around the world, but no international chapters. The reasons are partly practical and partly legal. AIGA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Chapters must be individually incorporated as nonprofits, and that's not really possible if they're not located in the United States. AIGA does have a model to welcome international affiliates, international interest groups that function similarly to chapters on the ground but have a different legal and financial relationship with AIGA. If you are interested in forming an international affiliate, contact Nick Prestileo, director of chapter development, AIGA.