2013 Innovation Grants Program Award Recipients
Association of American Medical CollegesThe Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) had four elements to their IGP proposal: advancing additional networking with innovation experts, experimenting with a design-thinking workshop, improving their capacity for associating by attending an innovation-focused event, and observing their membership to better understand and address their members’ needs. With funding awarded through IGP, AAMC staff attended meetings and conferences specifically geared toward innovation. Upon returning, the attendees quickly introduced new ideas designed to foster collaboration and exchange among staff. Staff also participated in a design-thinking workshop that led to the creation of a new model of engagement and exchange with AAMC members about products and services. Through this process, and through observing member organizations in action, AAMC intends to build a better understanding of their members’ needs and how to serve them.
AAMC used the grant funding to find new ways to engage staff with their organization and ideas about innovation. Contests for travel grants disbursed as part of the IGP award invited staff to be creative with their ideas and their proposals. AAMC staff came together to view and vote on the proposals to choose a winner for one of the grants. The contests opened up opportunities to learn about innovative ideas to all AAMC staff.
Through their IGP grant, AAMC experienced how engagement and networking can drive innovation in an organization. By engaging their staff in their innovation efforts, AAMC built interest and commitment to innovation within their offices. Through their networking efforts with AMI and others, AAMC increased organizational knowledge and helped expand a community of innovators.
Center for the Future of Museums, American Alliance of MuseumsWith the grant received through IGP, the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) developed, tested, and evaluated a digital badging system. Digital badging is a system by which an organization offers “credit” in return for the demonstration of some accomplishment by the user, whether the completion of an educational module or participation in a related event. CFM’s pilot program ran from early 2013 to the end of that year and allowed two test groups of users to earn credit and recognition for mastering content in small topic areas. Altogether, CFM created five badges, one for each level of content and one for mastering all levels.
CFM collected extensive feedback from these participants and other advisors on the online content. Through the feedback and their internal experiences, CFM created recommendations to guide the incorporation of digital badging into the Alliance’s professional education program, as well as evaluating how CFM might improve this particular badging course for future iterations. The experience invited reflection on the implications of the project not only for their organization but also for the entire association community. Digital badging, or some similar form of microcredentialing, is an opportunity associations will need to consider if/as the trend endures. Associations who move forward with digital badging will need to decide what to credential and what determines the completion of the requirements. The success of digital badging is also inevitably tied to building “brand” value associated with the credentials and the recognition of microcredentialing more broadly.
Colorado Nonprofit AssociationWith the money received from the Innovation Grant Program, the Colorado Nonprofit Association created an online assessment system and toolkit to help members determine how to improve their processes. The site they built, called Opus, allows members to compare their data to benchmarked data, reinforces the best practices outlined in Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Colorado (P&P), and links users to resources that take a more in-depth look at these practices.
Opus was launched April 1, 2014 and response has been extremely positive. Several new members joined the Colorado Nonprofit Association specifically for access to Opus. The Association was also able to secure sponsors for Opus to offset the ongoing support costs. Next up for Opus and the Colorado Nonprofit Association is the launch of the full assessment system in spring 2014.
International Association of Diecutting and DiemakingFor their proposal, the International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD) developed a program called “Think! Outside the Box” (Think!). Think! was designed to overcome distance and financial constraint to bring IADD’s members together, start conversations, exchange ideas, and foster innovation among members, staff, the association, and the industry. Think! would accomplish this by using video and Wi-Fi technology to remove the barriers inherent to gathering a geographically diverse association membership. As the program was implemented, the program components shifted to address the needs of IADD and its membership, taking the program in unexpected but successful directions.
With the grant award, IADD purchased several tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, conference cams, and other equipment/software to support the production of videos and remote conferencing by IADD staff and members. To make these tours available to IADD members, IADD built a Think! media website that currently hosts four video tours to showcase their members’ companies. More videos will be added as they are formatted and approved.
IADD’s key takeaway was that investment in innovation not only unlocked a creative approach that addressed several challenges, but the equipment remains an investment that can be creatively deployed to take advantage of other opportunities. It also underscored the need for even small organizations to take risk and “invest in ourselves and more fully utilize technology to stay fresh and deliver new products and services.”