AIGA is beginning its second century in an era of massive change. Now is the time to lead an evolving profession in new ways.
AIGA’s board of directors invites your perspective and encourages your vote on options for the future. We are presenting to you a strategic framework for AIGA and two very different options for the future. This conversation has implications for how AIGA will allocate staff, facilities and financial resources for the future, which activities will be possible and what AIGA will be like for the next several decades.
The internet, social media, open source opportunities and the attitudes of new generations have changed the role of all associations, not just AIGA. All professional organizations must transform to remain viable and vital.
AIGA was founded as a small club of dedicated designers seeking to celebrate great design. Today, AIGA gives 24,000 designers a collective voice about design excellence, the value of effective design and the potential for design to improve the human experience.
The greatest assets we have are dedicated and energetic members and chapter leaders who create countless opportunities for designers to connect, collaborate, celebrate and grow, nationwide, every day.
Today’s members want a relationship based on clear values, participation, the opportunity to contribute, a sense of ownership, rich experiences, and, more than anything, relevance.
The choice of futures presented here is one that results from working with hundreds of designers, experts, boards and chapters, as well as leading strategy and positioning firms, to develop a vision for AIGA’s future. The planning process resulted in little divergence of views. The same major themes emerged throughout:
AIGA is proposing transformative change to address these needs. The timing is urgent simply because of the pace of change around us. Fortunately, AIGA is fiscally sound, has a strong membership base and continues to grow. We are proposing change now to assure a robust and relevant resource for the next generation of designers.
What might AIGA look like in 2020 under each of the two options being considered?
We can describe now what some of the most critical changes and new activities would be under the transformative option. Further details would be developed if the decision is made to move forward.
Increase content that celebrates great design and designers, including drawing on the digital files of studios of the 20th century as collections in the online AIGA Design Archives. Become the go-to place for video interviews about and by influential designers. Explore new forms of competitions.
Develop resource materials that will assist chapters in implementing local programs for AIGA-wide initiatives such as Design for Democracy, Design for Good, Living Principles, and an inclusion initiative—activities that help demonstrate the value of design within local communities.
Develop a comprehensive program plan for professional development, including formal and informal content. This program will offer discrete content for designers of all experience levels. Targeted programs would include a Women’s Leadership Initiative to enhance and encourage leadership within the profession and society.
Develop programs and activities to imbue students with the same passion that experienced designers have in their work, while helping them to develop the skills, judgment, ethics and opportunities to become successful designers.
Create a platform that allows the organization to thrive in a world of virtual connections. Increase venues for the sharing of ideas, expertise, and best practices.
Develop a $1 million chapter innovation fund to provide grants to chapters to experiment, iterate, test and document successful programs. Implement new centralized and distributed support systems and resource materials that enable local chapters to focus on programming.
Develop a comprehensive communication strategy and set up mechanisms to capture stories about the value created by good design. This effort would expand an experienced content team to cover new channels and social media over a three-year period, with the aim of assuring the role of communication designers in the expanding demand for design strategy and execution across media.
Convert the current office space from an
asset—which has appreciated considerably over the last 19 years—to a
revenue-generating endowment. Currently, the value of AIGA’s most
significant financial asset is locked in rather than generating revenue
that can be used to serve the membership and secure the long-term future
of the organization. Transformative activities would be funded from the
resulting endowment, but would be sustained by ongoing revenues within
And just a reminder that an open membership meeting will be held following the AIGA Design Conference on Sunday, October 13 at 10:00 a.m. Central at the Millennium Hotel, 1313 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.
Thank you for engaging with us in this process to create a strong AIGA for the future. We plan to consider every member’s comments before making a decision on the future course for AIGA. If we pursue the transformative option, most changes in services will begin in the fall of 2014, following the detailed plans that are developed each year in deciding how to commit AIGA resources as part of our budgeting process.
Join this webcast on September 27 with Ric Grefé, AIGA executive director, to discuss a strategic framework for AIGA and two very different scenarios for the future.
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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