Pulled from the Archives: Getting to Know AIC and FAIC

By Rebecca Gridley posted 04-03-2019 15:48


A little over two years ago, ECPN published a blogpost entitled "Getting to Know AIC and FAIC." The post summarized the different roles and structures of AIC and FAIC for newcomers to the field and other emerging conservation professionals. In light of recent member-wide discussions, my co-author and I thought it may be helpful to pull this post from the Conservator's Converse archive and re-publish it here on our new platform, complete with updated language and links. 

As a follow up to this original post, ECPN also published "Tips for Writing FAIC Grant Proposals: ECPN Interviews ETC," which I hope many will find useful in advance of the upcoming May 15th deadline for various FAIC grants! 

Getting to Know AIC and FAIC
Originally published February 7, 2019 by Jessica Walthew and Rebecca Gridley (during their tenure as ECPN Officers)

Have you ever wondered where AIC (the association) and FAIC (the foundation) overlap, and where they diverge? Or who works for AIC and FAIC, and how they got involved?

This post takes a closer look at the structure and mission of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) to introduce newcomers to the field —or even those who are not so new— to what AIC is and what it does. To get a more personalized and in-depth view, ECPN interviewed staff and board members for AIC and FAIC. Let’s get back to basics!

First and foremost, AIC is a membership organization for conservation professionals. To this end, the AIC staff works to support AIC members, and the AIC board serves to support the members and address their concerns. AIC members themselves make up much of the organization’s structure: members are elected to serve on the AIC board and in specialty group leadership, or are appointed to committees and networks (such as ECPN). These different groups work together to support the field of conservation through their combined action. Which brings us to AIC’s mission statement:

We are the national membership organization supporting conservation professionals in preserving cultural heritage by establishing and upholding professional standards, promoting research and publications, providing educational opportunities, and fostering the exchange of knowledge among conservators, allied professionals, and the public.

This is a tall order. How does AIC accomplish this? The recently revamped website links the mission to programs that fulfill each component of this mission. Some of these initiatives –such as organizing the Annual Meeting and managing communication between members (your specialty group communities)– are probably already familiar to you.

The Foundation also supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities, but is separate from AIC. As Eryl Wentworth, Executive Director for both organizations, explains: “AIC and FAIC have a symbiotic relationship. They are separate legal entities with different missions, working both in tandem and independently to advance the field.” FAIC’s goals of advancing the profession, providing information resources, strengthening the professional education program, and expanding outreach, all benefit AIC members in critical ways.

There are important distinctions between AIC and FAIC in how they are funded, classified, and organized. AIC is a 501(c)6 nonprofit, and your AIC membership dues support the resources and staff devoted to AIC initiatives, such as the Annual Meeting, online tools and resources, and publications to disseminate conservation research (AIC News and the Journal of AIC (JAIC)). The Foundation (FAIC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and in contrast, is responsible for raising funds to support its own management and initiatives. Funds raised from grants and individual donations (including from AIC members) support the programs administered by FAIC, which include Connecting to Collections Care (C2C Care), emergency preparedness and response programs, Angels projects, the Collections Assessment for Preservation program (CAP), and the Oral History Project, to name only a few.

AIC and FAIC are each managed by a board of directors. The AIC board is made up of conservation professionals nominated by the Nominating Committee and elected by the broader AIC membership. There are four administrative leadership positions (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer) and four additional board directors that oversee different aspects of the organization, such as Professional Education, Communications, Specialty Groups, and Committees and Networks. These positions are all voluntary, and AIC relies heavily on its members to participate in the leadership of the organization. The FAIC board includes leadership from the AIC board (including the Executive Director of AIC and FAIC), plus professionals in allied fields and in such areas as marketing, publishing, insurance, and law. These board members provide additional voices that help to broaden the reach of the organization in related areas of arts and culture, as well as expertise we otherwise lack.

Both organizations are based in a Washington, DC, office staffed by 13 professionals in nonprofit management. Some of the staff work for both organizations, while others’ responsibilities are directly tied to either AIC or FAIC. The AIC/FAIC staff are deeply invested in helping our profession grow and to educating the public about what we do. You may have met some of the staff members at the Annual Meeting or have been in touch with them to update your membership information. Their work extends beyond this and includes crucial advocacy for the field in the broader context.

Thanks AIC and FAIC!