Waking Up A Sleeping Organization
AIGA SD was once an active organization that lost its momentum. We looked to breathe some life into it.
WAKING UP A SLEEPING ORGANIZATION
When our current Board of Directors took over the responsibility of leading AIGA SD, there was a sense that the organization had lost some momentum. I, for one, had returned to Sioux Falls after being away for 5 years and wondered where AIGA had gone. When talking with past president, Kristi Wire, she recalled a time when they were putting on around 24 events per year. Fast forward to 2018 and a once active organization was only showing up in blips throughout the year.
As the new board assembled and looked to pick up the pieces, we were sure that the local community deserved a vibrant design scene, but not sure how to get there.
2018 needed to be the year we breathed a little life back into it.
HAVING A PULSE AGAIN
We knew that, as with any community building exercise, it would take time and effort to build momentum. Local designers were still out there in the wilderness, but stirring them back up would not happen overnight.
Our initial instinct was obviously to make a big splash. Bring in a big speaker. Throw a huge party. Basically, behave like the big sophisticated organization we wish we were. The problem with that was that we had a limited budget and an audience that wasn’t paying attention anymore. If we swung for the fences, not only would we blow our budget, but the audience might not even notice.
What we needed was to get their attention and then keep it while we demonstrated our worth. So we resolved to play the long game.
Rather than seeking global domination from the get-go, we focused on a simpler goal.
Exist. Show up. Be present.
We needed to earn some relevance and demonstrate that the organization that designers had once known, still had a pulse.
GETTING DESIGNERS IN THE SAME ROOM
Our theory was that consistency was the key. We needed to show up and provide value again and again. After all, a pulse is made up of many heartbeats. From our perspective, our AIGA’s heartbeats were things like two designers having coffee, a gallery opening, community project, an inspiring speaker, or a trip to design camp.
Success was any time we could get designers in the same room.
Plain and simple. It didn’t matter how big or small, formal or informal. As long as designers were colliding out in the world, we would have our pulse.
Throughout 2018, we put this plan to work. We averaged one official event per month ranging from simple, low-impact social get togethers to high-impact formal events. Read the full end-of-year recap.
Here’s the mix we came up with:
Drink & Draw - Informal meeting at a bar or coffee shop to have a beer or coffee and draw, sketch, paint, doodle, or write.
Agency After Hours - Happy hour at a local agency, with drinks, snacks, tours.
Show & Tell - Local creatives sharing a side project, client work, or creative endeavor.
National Speakers - Higher impact, formal events with inspiring people from outside the region.
Gallery Shows - Showcasing local design work in creative ways.