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2010 CODA Leadership Conference, Savannah Georgia
Peer Session, April 7, 2010
Membership Organizations/Guilds—Mary Lacer, Julia Daily Moderators
A wide variety of organizations, types and sizes, were represented at the Guild/Membership peer session. The organizations ranged in type from alliances and associations that represented organizations to membership guilds with as few as 300 members and as many as 13,000.
The topic of the day was “The Economy and Best Practices for Guild Management.” First suggestions began with data software packages being utilized, i.e. gomembership.com, yourmembership.com and blogs on wordpress.com. Also, an online membership software package is available through issuu.com.
Journals/newsletters/magazines are still popular among Guild memberships, some mailing as many as 6 issues per year, but it was suggested that 4 might be mailed and 2 could be online. However, all 6 are archived online. (American Association of Woodturners). This is probably the number one expressed benefit to membership by members.
The Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi’s Education Committee holds a “Prepare to Qualify” workshop before each Standards jury twice a year to make the application process user-friendly for those who want to jury into the Guild. Conducted by master craftsmen, the workshop gives helpful tips about filling out the application, photos, quality work, artist statements, resume, and expectations of the Guild. It prevents those who are not ready from applying too early, as well.
The Rosen Group is offering trial subscriptions to AmericanStyle magazine as membership incentives that raise funds for Guilds. They have a full benefit package available at www.AmericanCraft.com.
Discussion of Tiers of Organizations, classifications. Some Guilds allow members to classify themselves. Some guilds allow everyone to join, but shows are juried.
Discussion of Alternative Craft Movement and how it affects Fine Craft Guilds and juried classifications and selling in galleries. There is a documentary “Handmade Nation” by Faythe Levine being viewed by many museums and Guilds that is opening discussions of the DIY movement and is a great conversation starter of inclusion, not exclusion. Guilds have to hold true to their missions. It was suggested that shows can divide into high cost areas and low price areas.
Board issues, fundraising and how to involve the board more was discussed. It is always wise to bring in an outside consultant to help the board learn how to “friend-raise,” and take away the fear of the “ask.” Need a mix of skills on every board. It is vital to vet the board nominations and project the needs of the board into the future. Ethics are important. Conflict of interest must be recused from vote. Public organizations differ from artists in non-profits.
Guild’s Peer Session Notes 2008 CODA Conference
Membership in an organization vs. subscribers to a publication - some organizations only have members and they all receive the same benefits. Others have a subscription and don't receive any of the membership benefits. Membership fees ranged from $35 to $130.
Health insurance - there is business insurance through Liberty Mutual Group - 800 843 6446. Many of the organizations are also looking for health insurance for their members. Andrew Glasgow said he would look into health insurance.
Merchant services - there was discussion about Payment Tech in Canada. It had good rates.
Creating a sense of community was very important for individual artists working alone. They will join if there is a sense of family.
Partner with other craft organizations - there is a gain for both parties.
There is a movement of back to the land.
Advertising - since print isn't as popular now some other forms of advertising were suggested - alternate print (usually community newspapers), bus stops, billboards, light rail.
Electronic advertising is increasing in getting the word out - use blogs, web-in-nar, imaging blog and of course, websites are good.
If you are selling on your website, you can track commissions.
The balancing act of providing for amateurs and studio artists. Keeping a balance of articles in your publication that appeal to both. Providing information for new members of your organization for them to grow and still provide a challenge for people who have been members for a long time. Putting on shows for the studio artist and today having their work for sale on line. Providing membership benefits on your website - have a members only area where they have access to a certain number of articles that aren't available to the general public. When you provide a service people will join.