If you haven’t noticed, the AIA has rolled out a new campaign titled the “Year of the Advocate”. (I can hardly blame you if you haven’t noticed). We receive multiple emails a day from National AIA, Advocacy AIA, I Look Up AIA, AIA Colorado, and various others depending on which lists you are subscribed to. However, I feel that this specific email regarding Advocacy is more important than the others. The mission of the campaign is to get AIA members involved in advocacy efforts and hopefully donate to ArchiPAC. Before you write this post off, bear with me. I want to explain why Advocacy is so vitally important to our profession. It is arguably one of the greatest benefits of the AIA membership. If you aren’t sure why advocacy is important or why ArchiPAC needs your money, I hope to help explain that.
Three Reasons Advocacy is Important
- Advocacy affects you (all of you!) It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do or where you work. The Advocacy branch of the AIA helps to reach out to elected officials (national works at a national level, states work at state legislature levels) and support those politicians that support architecture. If you own your company, if you care about the high cost of student loans or if you design energy efficient buildings, Advocacy should be a priority.
- Advocacy efforts and ArchiPAC are bi-partisan. If you are anything like me, you have followed the news closely and it seems that America may be more partisan than ever as well as the politicians that represent us. This is not true for ArchiPAC. ArchiPAC donates an equal amount to each party and its candidates. It is not about Republican, Democrat or Independent. The support goes to candidates whose views align with the legislative agenda of architects.
Wait… What is ArchiPAC? ArchiPAC is the federal Political Action Committee of the AIA. Fundraising occurs every year and then the money is dispersed to support leaders who support architects. It is important that we have a PAC because that is how support and awareness is raised in the Hill in DC. AIA is not allowed to donate to campaigns so ArchiPAC is funded solely through its members.
- Influence = Ability to Shape Our Profession. There has been one President that has been an architect. AIA Advocates aren’t asking all of us to run in the next presidential election, but sitting on community and local boards helps to create architectural influence within our communities. Architects should be sitting on Planning Boards, Infrastructure Committees; whatever it may be in your community. We are experts in our field and have a responsibility to share this expertise with the rest of our community. Not only does the community benefit when we share our expertise but architecture as a profession benefits when we are recognized as valuable and relevant. This is easily done when architects get involved in the community and helps the community to understand what it is we do.
Like most efforts, this takes a grassroots approach. Not everyone can donate a lot of money. Not everyone has the desire to serve on a local committee. The first step is figure out what you personally feel is important and advocate for that. When we all step up and advocate for the profession together, we are a stronger profession.
We all know money speaks. As of November 30, 2014, ArchiPAC raised $276,142.70 with a total of 1,610 contributors. (http://archipac.org/) There are 85,500 members in the AIA. Imagine if we all just donated one dollar? Even more than the dollar amount increase, can you imagine how much awareness would grow if every member donated a minimal amount? Influence comes in many forms. Money helps. But recognition is where the influence lies.
If you are now feeling inspired to support the future of the architecture profession, please make a contribution to ArchiPAC today. http://archipac.org/
If you aren’t sold yet, feel free to reach out and ask me about your doubts.
Advocacy is important. Donating and volunteering may not be your thing. But I challenge you to reach out to one person today that may not know anything about an architect and ask them why they think architecture is important. You might just be pleasantly surprised in their answer, if they don’t have an answer take a moment an explain it to them. Just by spreading the word, you have supported the “Year of the Advocate”.
Information from http://www.aia.org/advocacy and archipac.org
Disclaimer: Under federal election law, all contributions must be from U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Contributions to ArchiPAC are not tax deductible. Federal law requires political committees to use best efforts to collect and report the name, address, employer and occupation of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. Amounts are suggestions only. Contributions are strictly voluntary and do not affect AIA membership status. Corporate contributions are prohibited by law.