As presented by Tanya Smith, AAI President, at the 2012 Annual General Meeting
Itās been a quite a year! Almost exactly one year ago we launched the new AAI at the Dublin convention. At that time we had a newly elected Board, some of the infrastructure from the former AAI and a lot of work ahead of us!
Our activities in the last year have been around a few themes:
Iāll talk a bit about each of these.
Re-establishing the membership and support base for the new group...
At the time of the re-launch last year AAI had 19 Affiliate and Associate Members ā mainly those that came with AAI as part of the separation - and weāve now increased that number to over 30. Weāve also substantially increased the number of Individual Members and instituted a free mailing list so we can keep in touch with people who are either unable or unwilling to take the step of becoming an AAI member. Thanks to our social media co-ordinator Matt weāve also substantially expanded our online presence ā our Facebook page has over 10,000 likes (roughly doubled in a year), the number of Twitter followers has also increased significantly to around 4,000 and Mattās launched us on Google+ also.
This process has been an important part of re-establishing AAI for two reasons:
Itās been a very good first year for AAI, but weāre not done yet so weāll continue working to grow the group and expand our reach.
On expanding communications...
Weāve put in place a range of initiatives to improve AAIās communications.
Late last year we established a PR team to work on media releases and help build AAIās public profile, commenting on conventions AAI is involved with and international issues like the new Libyan constitution, the riots in response to Koran burning in Afghanistan and the case of Alexander Aan.
This year weāve put in place a News Team with representatives in all populated continents to ensure we get a good and diverse range of articles about atheist/secular issues on our website. We now have nine contributors providing around one original article or commentary on issues per week.
The News Team work complements Secular World magazine, which we continue to produce as our flagship publication quarterly, and weāve added a periodic newsletter called Imagine! to keep our supporters up to date with AAI activities, which weāre distributing in English and Spanish.
Finally on communications, weāve launched new branding! The new logo, tagline and website were launched in April to a generally very positive response.
On supporting our members and potential new members...
As a member based organisation we want to help our member groups. Because our members are at very different stages how we support other groups varies considerably.
At the earliest stage, we get fairly regular enquiries from people who want to set up new atheist groups. Some of these actually happen, some donāt, but we always respond with advice and (if appropriate) contacts with other groups in their country or region.
For members that are established, what we can do to help depends on what they need. For well-established groups that run their own projects, we help out with global publicity for campaigns ā this is one way the importance of our communications reach comes in.
For groups that need advice or funding for projects we can help out ā for example weāre sponsoring a series of lectures on evolution in Gambia next month ā and of course we work with our members in relation to conventions. The Cologne convention starting later today is the fourth convention AAI has been involved in this year, following events in Melbourne, Manila and Kamoops in British Columbia. Weāre also supporting a convention in Malawi in August.
On supporting atheists in developing countries...
Thereās two specific projects Iāll mention from the last year:
On formal status for atheists...
Weāve applied to the United Nations and the Council of Europe for consultative status, which would give us a platform to raise atheist/secular issues in an international forum ā along with other non-religious groups that are already there. We will find out if weāve been successful in our application early next year.
Itās been a pretty busy year of re-establishment and growth for AAI. In the next year weāll continue the projects and programs weāve established and weād like to add to our work. Weāre talking to various groups about conventions over the next few years, looking at potentially supporting another humanist school in Africa if it proceeds and we are investigating projects that we can run as an international alliance.
To some extent what we do and what we support depends on projects put forward by our members ā we respect that local groups are best placed to identify and run projects in their own countries.