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Comment: Have a great idea? ACS wants to hear about it.

by William J. Greenlee, chair, ACS Committee on Budget and Finance
October 29, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 38


William J. Greenlee.
Credit: Harrington Discovery Institute
William J. Greenlee

The American Chemical Society attracts thousands of chemists because of its many programs, products, services, and events that provide support at all stages of chemists’ lives and careers. Those features help us grow as scientists and leaders. The society is committed to ensuring that its offerings—including C&EN, national meetings, insurance programs, and more—remain fresh and relevant as our discipline and the world evolve.

You may have thought about a benefit or program that ACS does not currently provide but that would make a significant difference for you and your professional network. Many of the member services we enjoy today began with an idea proposed by an ACS member. How can we ensure that we continue to receive innovative proposals to increase our value to members? The Committee on Budget and Finance (B&F) has the answer.

Over the past few years, B&F has redesigned its processes for reviewing existing member and society programs and for evaluating new ideas that seek funding. As part of that redesign, we sought to create a path that was straightforward, strategic, and effective.

The result is IDEA—Innovative Development and Expansion to Advance ACS. IDEA is a new portal that will simplify the process for members to submit program or product suggestions for consideration. Ultimately, we want to make certain that great ideas for programs that can benefit current and future chemists move from the bench to the marketplace. We believe this update will guarantee that ACS remains relevant to our members and stakeholders by changing our offerings to deliver greater value.

B&F holistically reviews the overall portfolio of ACS programs at a strategic level each year. We talk with staff leadership about what is working, what needs attention, and what gaps might exist in current offerings. We then discuss those gaps with the Board Standing Committee on Strategic Planning and identify focus areas. These will be broadly shared and used to solicit ideas for solutions to improve the society’s reach or engagement and close those gaps. While we welcome all ideas, this step puts the emphasis on innovation that will have the highest impact.

The greatest strategy for the society’s continued success is the steady flow of fresh ideas that will keep programs and services up to date with what you and other ACS members need.

Once we receive proposals, we will review them for their potential impact and the level of investment necessary. Volunteer governance members and staff leaders will work together to determine an idea’s viability. If the impact envisioned justifies the investment necessary, the next step will be developing a proof of concept leading to a pilot phase. If the pilot delivers as expected, the new product, program, or service will move into production with the necessary staff support and funding. B&F is uniquely positioned to balance the investment required and the society’s financial well-being.

B&F believes that the new process will provide a more equitable opportunity for idea consideration, a clear path for idea creators to follow, timely turnaround and feedback, and an improved support model throughout the process. Given its financial resources, ACS can regularly enhance programs, products, and services to extend its reach and provide even more value to members.

If you have an idea that you believe is strategic and has the potential to impact many ACS members, we are eager to hear it. Please visit the IDEA website at

You will find necessary information to help you decide if your idea is ready to go or needs additional refinement. You’ll get answers to some common questions. And when you are ready to begin, you will find a link to the simplified submission form that formally kicks things off.

If you have feedback on the new website, this revised process, or any other related issue, please email me at My fellow committee members and I want to ensure that great ideas do not get lost because of an unclear process or unnecessary complications. The greatest strategy for the society’s continued success is the steady flow of fresh ideas that will keep programs and services up to date with what you and other ACS members need.

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.


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