How is AIGA investing in chapters?

The role of chapters and individual members is to demonstrate a passion for design and the design profession through activities that engage both the local community and, hopefully, an even larger audience.

AIGA has committed to a broad campaign to provide a suite of tools that allows a volunteer membership organization to work effectively and responsively, nationally and at the chapter level. The goal is for each chapter to benefit from a common, robust infrastructure, so that fundamental ways of supporting members are not dependent on the ebb and flow of volunteer interest in the systems that make a membership organization work.

Our basic premise is that the creative diversity of the design community should appear in the form of programming and content. As AIGA continues to strengthen chapters, we also recognize that amplifying what members and chapters are doing around the world often demonstrates more diversity and inclusion than does a focus on activities originated at the national level.

Based on input and consultation from chapter leaders over the past two years, AIGA has invested in refinements to the online membership system, including a common event registration system that links to membership records, a new email marketing platform and a standard “iKit” for chapter websites.

The reasons are numerous, yet simple:

  • Common systems represent efficiencies that save money and time for every chapter.
  • The systems can be maintained and improved across the board, regardless of the initiative and energy of volunteers.
  • The quality of service for members can be consistently high across all chapters.
  • Members and chapters can focus on demonstrating the range and diversity of design, inspiration, ideas and discussion in the content of programs and activities.
  • The systems provide a means of showing the diversity of AIGA and its community to a national audience through seamless sharing of content among websites, local and national.
  • In the case of the common iKit for chapters, this open source platform encourages chapters to improve upon the central design, share improvements with all chapters and build on each others’ contributions.

Some members have asked, “Why would we have a local chapter website that was designed somewhere else?” Or, “Why can’t we do something really cool?” The basic platform or functionality has to be built somewhere; the opportunity now exists for improving upon it and sharing advancements, while assuring that every member benefits from services and content from all members. The content—created by members—will always be local.

The One AIGA campaign aims to ensure that AIGA is seen in all of its breadth and depth; that the experience reflects contributions from any member or chapter who has content to share; that a member’s experience not feel like it is limited to his or her chapter; that AIGA feels like an expression of the entire design profession, wherever it may be located; and that AIGA serves as a model of a community of designers who have created an organization that inspires designers and communicates the value of design to others.

About the Author: Richard Grefé is the director emeritus of AIGA, the professional association for design, the oldest and largest professional association of designers in the United States representing the interests of 27,000 designers working in a variety of communication media and dimensions, ranging from type and book designers to new media and experience designers. AIGA, o ver twenty years under Ric’s aegis, has become a leading advocate for the value of designing, as a way of thinking and as a means of creating strategic value for business, the civic realm and social change. Currently he is teaching “Human-centered designn for social change” at Wesleyan University. Ric earned a BA from Dartmouth College in economics, worked in intelligence in Asia, reported from the Bronx County Courthouse for AP, wrote for Time magazine on business and the economy and then earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Following an early career in urban design and public policy consulting, Ric managed the association responsible for strategic planning and legislative advocacy for public television and led a think tank on the future of public television and radio in Washington.