Nov 17, 2020 By Abby Wilson
Advocacy Spotlight: Oregon and Cincinnati/Dayton
IIDA Chapters are staying connected with members safely and being creative with virtual events from happy hours and networking to annual fundraisers.
By Abby Wilson Nov 17, 2020
Published in

Not unlike the rest of the world, IIDA and our global chapters have been working to strike a balance between keeping members engaged while taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of our communities. Along with HQ, our chapters have successfully migrated to virtual events–everything from networking and happy hours to annual fundraisers and multi-day seminars.

The IIDA Oregon Chapter and the IIDA Cincinnati/Dayton City Center leadership have demonstrated the resiliency of our membership and our industry through developing programming that has proven successful virtually. IIDA Oregon’s advocacy fundraiser went virtual this year, and the Cincinnati/Dayton City Center took their advocacy week to social, both engaging members and sponsors in new and creative ways with resoundingly positive results. We’ve interviewed leaders at both to share how they made these events a success.

Oregon Chapter Annual Advocacy Fundraiser

Emily Wright, IIDA NCIDQ
VP of Advocacy, Oregon Chapter
Associate at SRG Partnership, INC

IIDA: What was IIDA Oregon’s advocacy fundraiser this year?

Emily Wright: Our annual fundraiser for this year was a virtual, advocacy and interior design themed trivia night. Through researching different formats of how trivia games were being set up in a virtual environment, we were able to create a pub-style trivia game using Zoom with breakout rooms and a trivia game platform accessed on your phone. This allowed for teams of 4-6 players to connect and compete against each other over three rounds of questions. In designing the game, we were able to cover topics related to general industry knowledge, NCIDQ-style questions, Oregon advocacy history, and questions specific to the legislative process in Oregon. These topics also provided segues to talk about resources available to our members, promote becoming NCIDQ certified, the importance of voting as part of advocacy, and general discussion about advocacy efforts in Oregon.

IIDA: How did the chapter advocacy committee and event committee transition the annual fundraiser from a golf tournament to a socially-distanced event?

Our typical annual fundraiser is a nine-hole team golf scramble that includes advocacy-related activities at each hole followed by a dinner and prize raffle. As it became clear that all of our IIDA events would need to become virtual for the remainder of the year, the advocacy team and executive committee started brainstorming virtual event formats that could incorporate similar elements like teams and educational components. It was through this thinking that we landed on a trivia night as a way to create an engaging virtual event.

IIDA: How did the sponsors react to the change in event? Were they excited to participate?

We had a very positive response from sponsors as they learned about the event and the different ways they could participate. We offered sponsorship opportunities to create the teams and participate in the game, opportunities to sponsor and submit questions, and also prize sponsorships for grand prize and best team name. Additionally, to support this event as a fundraiser, we offered opportunities for general event sponsorship for anyone who wanted to support advocacy but would not be able to attend the trivia night–which around 40% of our sponsors chose to do. We also offered the opportunity for any sponsor who was interested to join the audience for the trivia game, which helped build a fun environment for everyone attending.

IIDA: Which platforms did the chapter use to promote the event before, during, and after the event? How did you all choose?

We promoted the event mainly through our weekly e-blasts and through social media with a focus on our Instagram account. Additionally, we were able to engage our director of social media to plan content that would be published during the event to our Instagram stories so we could connect with even more of our members during the event. This included mentions of all our event sponsors and even featuring some of the trivia questions that people could play along with.

Cincinnati/Dayton City Center Advocacy Week

Robyn Davis, IIDA
Advocacy Chair, Cincinnati/Dayton City Center, Ohio/Kentucky Chapter
Interior Designer at Champlin Architecture

IIDA: How did the city center decide to promote advocacy through social media? Which platforms did the city center use and why?

Robyn Davis:
We knew starting at the beginning of the year we wanted to do an event focused around advocacy, one more focused on everyday advocacy not necessarily the bill. The event looked different when we were planning in February than what was executed in September. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and IIDA moving to virtual events, we decided to do Advocacy Week on social media this year. We felt the need to revitalize and rejuvenate our local members and wanted to inspire and promote being good advocates in our city center. We also knew that people were getting kind of drained by webinars.

When the Advocacy Week idea came to mind, we knew we wanted to post content on social media so that people could come and go as they wanted, and read the posts when they had the time. The posts were designed for Instagram and shared on Facebook

IIDA: What was the goal of the city center by promoting advocacy throughout the week?

Our goal for it was to focus on advocacy, and to educate, inspire, and rejuvenate our members.

: We were noticing that when people thought about advocacy they were thinking only about the bill and the chapter’s efforts with it. We wanted to use this week to help educate people and change how they thought about advocacy–advocacy is such a bigger picture than just passing the bill. We wanted to show how easy it is to be a good advocate and that changing the way you think and talk about it will make you a better and more effective advocate. We wanted people to realize that what they do every day gives them the opportunity to be an advocate for their profession.

: We wanted to really inspire people to be better advocates through people they know and work with. With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we really wanted to take the opportunity to uplift and inspire people. I know I personally needed some more inspiration in my life.

: We wanted to rejuvenate and relight the fire for our members and design community. Remind them that what they do is important and to remind them why they do what they do. To really draw from each other and to unify, and uplift.

IIDA: Why was that week selected and why were those folks selected?

We selected September because as a chapter we wanted to focus on advocacy in September. The timing just worked out. We were still trying to get grounding on virtual IIDA events, the changing of the season, people having their kids go back to school, and September just worked out. The 2 weeks before our advocacy Week we did a call for advocates and had members of our city center submit nominations for who they thought were good advocates. It was a simple google form that they filled out and asked for a quote, photo, and why they are good advocates.

We reached out to our benefactors and informed them about our call for advocates event, and our Advocacy Week event. We asked if they could donate a gift basket or swag to the event–everyone who was nominated got placed into a drawing for a prize (the donations from our benefactors).

We used the nominations to choose the members that we highlighted for Advocacy Week, all were IIDA members. We wanted to get people involved in the process of choosing who we were highlighting because when it comes from a friend or a peer it is more meaningful, and our hope was to get more responses that way and to also highlight people from all areas of the industry, because advocacy happens in every aspect of the industry.

IIDA: Where was the city center able to pull information and resources?

We pulled the information from our members from the call for advocates event. We also used the IIDA Advocacy brochure for the educational "non people" posts. We also received donations from our benefactors for the prizes that were given to people who nominated members. None of our IIDA funds were used for this event.

IIDA: How was success judged?

Success was judged by many aspects,people sharing and commenting, and people reaching out to me and other board members telling them how inspired they were. Even weeks after, people would tell me how much they loved and felt inspired from this event. One person told me that they had no idea what advocacy meant for our industry until that week, and now they know what advocacy means and what is means to be an advocate

IIDA: Will there be an advocacy week next year?

I would like to do it again, maybe we will focus more on a topic than an overall view. It could be a chapter event with each city center participating in the same week. I would love to have another successful and fulfilling week.

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