That seems like a simple statement.  After reading this title we probably all think this will be a pretty mundane, straight forward article and we probably all have the basic skills and principles mastered.  If only that were true.

Membership recruiting or ‘membershipping’ as it’s fondly referred to in the Farm Bureau world, is one of the most important responsibilities a member of a grassroots organization has.  And yes, it is a responsibility.  It’s a responsibility if you’re passionate about the work of Montana Farm Bureau, it’s a responsibility if you believe our organization does and will continue to benefit Montana agriculture and it’s a responsibility if you believe the next generation is going to need all the help we can give them to maintain our cherished lifestyles.

 “Responsibility?! That’s what we pay staff for!” 

True and false.  While staff are certainly there to serve as a resource and catalyst for helping members get ideas, programs, policy and events up and running and yes—even to help with member recruitment; it’s never  the sole responsibility of any grassroots organization’s staff to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to membership recruitment and retention. 

Here’s why:

As a grassroots organization MFBF is proud of a few things:

·         Our effectiveness at preserving our way life at a local, state and national level.

·         The ability to implement numerous educational and outreach programs benefitting school kids and adults alike.

·         Our opportunities to work closely with elected state and federal officials.

·         And—most importantly—our MEMBERS!

Yes, the MFBF membership is the most prized attribute of our organization.  Every single one of you brings unique perspectives, experiences, opinions and expertise to our organization.  As a result, it’s YOU that shapes our policy positions, YOU who drive the development of our programs, YOU who talk to elected officials and local school kids and YOU who share your passion for this organization with your family, friends and neighbors.

You are the most effective recruitment tool MFBF has ever had and ever will have.  By asking someone new to join, you’re reaffirming your belief that MFBF is the best organization out there representing Montana agriculture.  You’re sharing your honest opinion of the organization and what makes it great.  Your neighbors and friends will trust your opinion and you’ll be more successful than a staff member can ever be.  MFBF has a crew of the most passionate staff who all display a deep-seeded respect and dedication for Montana agriculture; however, you’re the one with the relationships and the connections to make membership recruitment truly effective.  Staff members, despite their passion, are still paid to be there.  So, when someone new hears a staff member highlighting all the attributes of MFBF it doesn’t carry the same level of emphasis as it does coming from you.  Because you choose to be a member; year after year after year you pay your dues because you continue to believe in the mission of this organization.  Conveying that to potential members and new recruits is what sells memberships—it’s not discounts, it’s not prizes, it’s YOU.

So, for the next several weeks we’ll be taking a closer look at membership work.  We’ll evaluate a variety of tools resources you can implement to become an even more effective recruiter.  There’s plenty more to discuss and we’ll take a closer look at the do’s and don’ts, how to run a membership campaign and more.  Stay tuned!