In preparation for our YPN annual networking reception next Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the St. Louis Art Museum, we had a chance to talk to Kate Gleason on the importance of joining a young friends committee. Thanks, Kate, for your time.
- Why is it important for young professionals to be involved with a “young friends” committee?
At the Museum, our Young Friends is a great way for younger people to get involved with the Museum in a variety of ways—from the social and educational aspects to philanthropic and leadership building ones. Our Young Friends Steering Committee has really been a training ground for many future leaders within the museum. Past Young Friends now serve on our Board of Trustees, Corporate Committee, and Friends Board. They also give to the Museum at a variety of levels.
When someone begins with an organization on their Young Friends board or as part of their Young Friends membership group, they gain valuable insight into how a nonprofit is run and how a nonprofit relies on volunteers to help raise funds, advocate, plan events, grow audience, and most importantly, fulfill mission. It’s a great way to get to know key leaders not only at the nonprofit itself, but also throughout the community.
And, of course, it’s a great way to meet young people with similar interests and passions!
2. What are some benefits for SLAM Young Friends?
To be a SLAM Young Friends Member, you must first join the Museum with a membership donation of at least $150. This membership alone provides a number of benefits—free exhibition admission, discounts, reciprocal privileges at more than 600 museums around the country. When you add the Young Friends option onto that membership, you get even more—namely, invitations to a variety of events at the Museum and at other cultural institutions in town. Young Friends Members are instantly connected to what’s happening not only at the Museum, but also around the community. Young Friends Members also have the benefit of meeting the Museum’s curators and, often times, visiting artists we bring to St. Louis from throughout the country.
3. How many young friends do you currently have and what is your goal for next year?
In 2013, the Museum changed the minimum membership requirement to be a Young Friends Member. Prior to this year, the Young Friends had been available for entry-level Members. This year, we asked our Young Friends to increase their commitment and made the minimum requirement a $150 donation.
With that increase, our membership numbers have, as expected, decreased a little bit. We currently have about 400 Members. Our goal for next year is to grow that number, but it is also to continue to offer very exclusive opportunities for our Young Friends Members as a way to say “thank you” for their support.
4. Have you seen an increase in Young Friends membership due to the recent expansion?
We have certainly seen an increase in all levels of membership. Again, because of our recent changes, the increase for Young Friends is not as dramatic as some other levels of membership. That said, the new East Building has really breathed new life into this entire institution and our audience.
5. If a young professional just moved to St. Louis, looking to start a career here, what advice would you give?
I would say that getting involved with organizations and institutions that interest you is a great first step to meeting people, exploring what the cultural landscape of St. Louis has to offer, and just seeing new places around town. Committing to a cause, getting on a board, volunteering in any sort of capacity is a great way to grow professionally and personally.