In February 2019, the Data Visualization Society launched with a website, a Google form, and a vision from our three founders to be a tool-agnostic, professional home for anyone connected to data visualization.
Over the last two-plus years, we’ve grown significantly and achieved big milestones for a volunteer-run organization:
- More than 19,000 people have signed up as members of DVS
- We launched Nightingale in July 2019 for over two years on Medium with our readers spending a cumulative 109,000 hours (or 11.4 years!) reading over 650 articles – and this month, we launched our own stand-alone (no paywall!) site where you’re reading this post
- Outlier attracted nearly 1,000 attendees from around the world, and at some moments had more than 600 folks tuning in live. (You can also watch the mainstage talks on our YouTube channel!)
- We were certified as a 501c3 charitable organization, which started opening doors to new partnerships and opportunities
All of those numbers and growth are phenomenal, but the moments that have brought me the most joy are hearing about collaborations that started because two dataviz enthusiasts connected through DVS, the Slack debates over chart taxonomies and terminology, and the many one-on-one conversations I’ve had with our members.
At our core, we are a society that stands for connecting the data visualization community across tech stacks, tools, practices, ideologies, experience levels, and domains of expertise. We encourage new professionals interested in pursuing a career in our field, and work to expand the influence of the field of data visualization around the world.
How we’re evolving our membership model supports that big vision for how data visualization will continue to grow and evolve.
Evolving what ‘membership’ looks like
A question I’ve heard more times than I care to count when I mention I’m on the DVS Board is “How do I know if I’m a DVS member?” Without a formal membership portal and login, the default communication space becomes our Slack workspace, which some folks love and some find overwhelming or never choose to use.
I’ve also heard, “What do I get for being a member?’ to which the answer has historically been focused on Slack, the newsletter, and free Nightingale links.
Our vision for DVS is more than a constellation of products or platforms: at our core, we are a professional home for data visualization practitioners of all levels.
We are a society that stands for connecting early career professionals with experienced designers. We curate events to amplify new voices and share knowledge borne out of decades of practice. We bring together teams and informal conversations around fundamental principles in our field. We find ways to have fun with dataviz!
While we love seeing the connections many members have built through Slack and other spaces, we want to create more deliberate and purposeful spaces for members to connect beyond Slack channels. We know in a community of tens of thousands it can be hard to create meaningful connections. That’s why we’re working on ways to connect smaller groups with a shared interest (like our recent Health Viz Jams) or geography, particularly as in-person events start up again.
The changes coming this week to our membership levels also offer more value to our members through partnerships with teachers, tech platforms, and other organizations who can offer valuable services to our members at discounted rates.
Launching new Membership options
This week, we’re launching new Membership levels, benefits, and a dedicated member portal on our website to continue to build connections among our community. These changes will allow us to better serve both current and new members, giving you access to new resources and the ability to edit and manage your own member profile data.
The Data Visualization Society we’ve built as a community since February 2019 has been built almost entirely through the volunteer support from the Board and committee members and through the contributions from members – from informal threads and conversations on Slack to long format Nightingale articles and mainstage Outlier talks.
To sustain and scale will require continued investment of time and resources to build the benefits and programs we’ve heard our members ask for, from deliberate pairings of mentors/mentees to professional development offerings. Your support, whether it’s by joining as a paid member or sharing about DVS with your own data viz community, makes that possible.
You can learn about the new membership tiers and benefits on our website. Looking forward, we have big hopes for the ways our community can continue to shape the professional field of data visualization for decades to come by building an organization that outlasts any one board or leader.
If you have any feedback on the new structure, I’d welcome a conversation (find me on Slack or email me), or you can reach out with technical questions to our Membership Director, Nena Untung. We’ve also answered a few frequently asked questions about this transition below.
DVS Membership FAQs
Where do my membership fees go? Membership fees will be shared across departments within DVS, including:
- Supporting the start up and management of new programs that have long been requested (like a dedicated Mentorship initiative)
- Hosting DVS events like our annual Outlier conference and smaller educational opportunities
- Developing educational resources on data visualization for various levels and hosting ongoing professional development opportunities for members
- Paying for the time and labor of contributors like our Nightingale authors/writers/editors.,
- Covering the operational expenses of ouras a global nonprofit organization (accounting, legal, software for managing our work), among other cost centers we have as an organization.
We are also committed to increasing our financial transparency to you, as members, to add visibility around where our resources are being spent through more frequent updates from our Operations Director, Amelia Ayoob.
Why add paid membership options? We’ve grown immensely thanks to the generosity of volunteers and early Patreon supporters and partners. As a professional association, we need resources to sustain the programs we’ve built as our numbers grow and also want to offer members an expanded range of benefits, programs, and resources. While we are actively seeking additional partners and dipping our toes into the world of grant funding, your financial support as a paid member helps to make that possible!
If I’m already a member AND I just want to stay a free member, do I need to do something? Ideally, we’d love to have you reaffirm your interest in DVS membership by registering as a free member on the new site.
If you remember your initial sign up, it happened on a Google form that we’ve used since first launching. While that form has served us well, it’s not a scalable (or the most secure) way to manage a global organization of nearly 20K people and counting!
What’s in it for me? Re-committing to DVS by registering as a free or paid member in our new portal allows you the following benefits:
- A login for our DVS Member Portal on datavisualizationsociety.org enabling you to see all membership features and benefits in one place
- Options to share more about what you’re interested in by completing your member profile, like topics in dataviz and domains of expertise, so we can provide more tailored recommendations related to your interests or desire for involvement
- Access to a membership directory where you can easily find others who share similar interests (paid members only)
- Access to exclusive content, like a digital edition of our forthcoming print Nightingale, discount codes, and offers from partners (paid members only)
In addition, as a member you received an exclusive discount code via email this week that can be used on any of the new membership levels (through June 30, 2021). We’d be honored if you’d consider supporting the organization financially if you’ve found value in DVS since joining.
Isn’t creating paid tiers at odds with DVS’ goals to be inclusive? We have been firm in our commitment since drafting our first set of bylaws that there will always be a free option to join DVS, which isn’t the case across all professional societies where paying for membership is often required.
Our team has been refining our approach to paid membership with the goal of remaining inclusive to all dataviz practitioners since we first started brainstorming on this change in 2020.
Here are a few of the big decisions we made:
- Free membership will continue to be an option going forward, and would require a bylaws change voted on by our members to remove that level.
- A significantly-discounted General membership rate ($24, instead of $99 per year) will be available for students, residents of low and middle income countries, and anyone else who needs that accommodation.
- No formal qualifiers or questions asked about why someone is opting into the ‘income conscious’ pricing – much like our Outlier pricing model. We trust our members to pick the level that suits them.
Coming in the future will be expanded options for members and organizations to sponsor memberships for others – stay tuned as those options develop.
If you have concerns or think we didn’t quite get this right, we welcome your feedback – feel free to email me or our DEI Director, Kaumodi Goda, and we’re happy to chat.
Amanda Makulec is a health data visualization designer, teachers, and speaker based in Washington D.C. who volunteers as the Executive Director for the Data Visualization Society. She holds a Masters of Public Health from the Boston University School of Public Health, and worked in more than a dozen countries leading teams and developing user-centered data visualization products for federal, non-profit, and private sector clients.