AIGA National Membership Toolkit

spearheading a national task force to create a comprehensive onboarding guide for AIGA membership directors across the country.

Selections from the AIGA National Membership Toolkit 2017.

Selections from the AIGA National Membership Toolkit 2017.

Let's build an innovative resource to drive member engagement.

When I joined the AIGA LA Board as Membership Co-Director, I was lucky to have a Membership Director to show me the ropes. When I leveled up to Membership Director the following year, however, I discovered that there was far more to the job than I expected.

Our chapter experienced big changes in membership in the past year: the absence of membership drives in 2017, the shift to a new CRM (customer relationship management) platform, and a leaner event calendar with an emphasis on lower costs and higher profits. At this point, it became clear that our chapter needed greater understanding of our members and the role they played in our chapter's future.

Slides from the AIGA LA Membership Game Show, 2015.

Slides from the AIGA LA Membership Game Show, 2015.

This research presentation became the foundation for the National Toolkit.

This research presentation became the foundation for the National Toolkit.

What started as a game grew into a passion project.

I began by posing key questions in my research of the LA chapter. Who attended events, and how often? Where were people were driving from? What were their reasons for joining? I collected my findings in a Membership Game Show for the chapter retreat, which proved to be a smashing success, leading to concrete changes in programming strategy.

When our CRM changed, new questions arose for all the chapters: how many members would we lose? What would it take to get them back? I expanded the scope of my research to include the nine largest chapters—LA is #6—to identify patterns in gains and losses. The new CRM may have cost us a sizable amount of members, but the knowledge we gained was extremely valuable. I knew I had to apply it somehow before my term was up.

Style sheet for the National Membership Toolkit.

Style sheet for the National Membership Toolkit.

Toolkit overview in the AIGA national wiki.

Toolkit overview in the AIGA national wiki.

When national calls, you answer.

Nick Prestileo, the incoming Director of Chapter Development in the national office, reached out to me in mid-January of 2017. He'd seen my reports and research, and he asked if I'd be interested in creating a national toolkit that all the chapters could use to synthesize their own data and execute member-driven strategies shared from other chapters. It would be the biggest thing I'd ever worked on for AIGA. I love a good challenge, so I accepted.

I knew I couldn't do it alone, though. So I worked with Nick to recruit a task force of Membership Directors that have performed well after the CRM transfer, based on national data. We asked Marisa Martin (AIGA Philadelphia), Randy Gregory (AIGA Austin) and Lauren Yanko (AIGA Boston) to join us on a four-month journey of calls, discussions, data research, and asset collection. I also enlisted the help of the national membership team and several other chapter leaders whose work I've admired in the past and wanted to incorporate into this project.

Slides from the membership orientation deck, created exclusively for the Toolkit.

Slides from the membership orientation deck, created exclusively for the Toolkit.

Growth and retention forecasting for the LA chapter, created exclusively for the Toolkit.

Growth and retention forecasting for the LA chapter, created exclusively for the Toolkit.

The toolkit is finished, but we're just getting started.

After dozens of nights and weekends writing, researching, and pushing the design limits of Google Docs, the Toolkit launched at the 2017 National Leadership Retreat in Dallas, TX. At the time of publication, the toolkit contained over 70 pages of tips and tricks with links to dozens of assets that Membership Directors can put to use right away. From here, I plan to share the toolkit with chapter leaders one chapter at a time, one week at a time, to keep the toolkit up-to-date and to help it grow into something even bigger.

Errol Gerson, an AIGA LA chapter Fellow, once gave me some advice: do what you love, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise. This National Membership Toolkit checks all of those boxes for me. I'm really proud of what I've accomplished with the national office and the task force, and I couldn't think of a better way to end my tenure on the LA board.