Photo courtesy of AFCI.

On Tuesday, August 13, the Association for Creative Industries (AFCI) held a virtual town hall meeting to update its 1,500 member companies on changes that have taken places since transitioning to being managed by Smith-Bucklin, an association management firm, in April.

A New Vision Statement

The association has a new vision statement: “An active creator in every home in the world.” In addition, this year’s Creativation trade show will feature an AFCI hub on the show floor where members can learn more about what the association offers. Benjamin Rabe, Director of Events, reported that networking and educational opportunities are an important driver of attendance at the show so this year’s Creativation will include more opportunities for both. The show will not have a theme this year, nor will there be a keynote speaker.

A New Executive Director

AFCI has a new executive director. Eight weeks ago Peter Finn took on this role having spent 11 years at the Society of Women Engineers, first as Director of Learning and Development and then as Deputy Executive Director and Chief Learning Officer. Finn was tapped by a recruiter to apply for the position.

“I’ve always been really interested in STEAM,” Finn told Craft Industry Alliance in a phone call the day after the town hall meeting. “I don’t know a great deal about the crafts industry, but my wife works at the Arts Institute of Chicago and my kids go to an arts magnet school so it’s something that on the weekends I’m always involved in some kind of project.”

An Updated Database

Next month AFCI will be implementing a new database, known as an “association management system,” by Impexium. Finn says the new system will make joining the organization online much easier.

Peter Finn.

Photo courtesy of AFCI.

“With the current system there may have been some headaches around that,” Finn says. There will be other advantages as well. “For us, the analytics and the reporting will be much better, being able to pull things out of there so we can do some more target marketing and engage with different member segments more effectively than what we’ve been able to do before.”

The long-term goal according to Finn is to have a learning management system in place as well that can exchange information with the member database enabling AFCI to track things like which members have watched which webinars, for example.  “In that case you can start to build a profile. We know that this person is interested in certain things and we can market to that and say here are some new things on the horizon, or here is a product that you might like to use.

“We can start to customize things a little more. That’s what a lot of really successful associations have done, really customize and curate content for each particular member segment. And to do that you need really solid analytics and so that’s what we’re trying to position AFCI to be able to do.”

Ongoing Research

AFCI has historically conducted research on the size of the crafts industry every few years. According to Finn the research studies will continue. The association is currently assessing a few different firms to partner with to do the research and is working with the research advisory committee to draft the best research questions. “For the [larger corporations] this is definitely an important piece of what we do so it’s definitely something that’s going to get a lot more focus over the next couple of months,” Finn says.

More Programming

Overall, Finn is looking forward to creating more programming for AFCI members. “Part of the reason why I think I was hired was my background in education,” Finn says. “I’ve always been on the program side so that’s where I’m going to devote a lot of my energy with AFCI, just creating programs that are meaningful to the different member segments, making sure there’s value there.”

“I’d like to get to the point where you’re not even thinking about paying your dues,” Finn says. “There’s enough value there where that isn’t something you even need to consider. It’s just something you do.

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