A Group of Interior Designers Created An Award For Community Engagement

Association members are often giving back to their communities, so one group decided to highlight those contributions via a new awards program.

Whether it’s bringing more salad bars to school cafeterias, providing free dental checkups, or helping to create more sustainable hospitals, associations and their members are often giving back to the communities they are a part of.

Commitment to community is a key component of the Interior Design Society’s recently updated mission, which underwent a makeover after an organizational rebrand last year.

“We took a really hard look at ourselves as an association, and we asked, ‘Who is our target audience? Who is our member?’” said IDS Executive Director Snoa Garrigan. “We realized that our mission as an association is that we are focused on helping our members grow their businesses, develop their talents, inspire each other, and impact their communities.”

And IDS is not taking that last bit lightly. The association recently launched an awards competition to recognize and reward members for their pro bono contributions in their various communities. Taking place this April, the inaugural #idsIMPACT awards will aim to not only highlight that work but also to increase the awareness of  the impact interior designers can have when volunteering their time and skills—an impact that can often go unacknowledged, Garrigan said.

“We wanted to recognize that in our members and bring it to the forefront and to really reward them for all of that hard work that they’re doing.”

For its first year, IDS received 10 entries—six from IDS chapters and four from individual members—and no project was too small.

“One thing we’ve learned is not to discount any project,” said Garrigan, who added that one of the awards judges commented to her how amazing it was to see how big an impact some people could make with sometimes very few resources.

“It could be something like going to a community center and painting the walls and changing the whole mood,” Garrigan said. “That wasn’t necessarily a large project, but it doesn’t negate the end result that it has on that particular organization.”

One example of a past community-based project that IDS showcases in a recent video is the work the Dallas chapter and its industry partners did with Dwell with Dignity, a local nonprofit that creates soothing and inspiring home environments for families struggling with homelessness and poverty. Together the designers and the organization worked to create a refreshed, personalized home for a single mom and her daughter.

“In our business we are dealing with a lot of materialistic goals, and that’s the fun of what we do—we have to admit that,” Nicole Arnold, 2014 and 2015 Dallas chapter president, said in a recent IDS video showcasing members’ community involvement. “But sometimes we can lose sight of what the real needs are in life. What we do … they’re wants and desires, and nothing’s wrong with that, but there are true needs out there that have to be addressed.”

IDS plans to make the awards an annual tradition, and to further highlight the pro bono work of its members, it’s also creating a video web series that will feature similar charitable contributions.

“It’s always important to give back,” Garrigan said. To be able to step back and look at what really matters, especially in an industry that is full of decadence, and to help someone who is less fortunate, “that’s why it’s important to us.”

How does your association recognize the community involvement of its members? Please share in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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