We’ve been talking about all things membership over the last few weeks. At the end of last week we kicked off this series to discuss how to hold an effective membership campaign for your County Farm Bureau.  During the second installment of this series, we’re getting down to the real meat and potatoes and laying out the initial steps to pulling this off.

Step 1: Get Board Approval

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are a few reasons this is the initial step. 

  • If you’re going to make this campaign successful it’s going to take the support of your whole board, not just one individual. 
  • In last week’s post, we mentioned the importance of having a vision of your membership campaign; this is another important reason to discuss this project with your Board and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
  • The County Board should have a thoughtful discussion about what kind of membership goal to make.
  • The County Board can help establish a committee to organize and run the membership campaign.  It doesn’t have to be the responsibility of the entire Board of Directors to run the campaign, so take this opportunity to reach outside current leadership and get some other members engaged in this activity.

Step 2: Hold a Membership Committee Planning Meeting

A committee meeting is a great chance for the committee chair to explain to all members the purpose and goal of the membership drive.

It’s also a great opportunity to begin planning out the next phase.  Depending on your County’s goals for the membership campaign the committee might need to submit a plan to the County Board asking for additional resources or explaining your timeline.

Step 3: Develop a Prospect List

Plan on surfacing twice as many prospects as your new membership goal.  Some people will say no, and that’s fine, but having a long prospect list will still help you meet and hopefully exceed your goal.

There are plenty of resources available to help you create a lengthy prospect list:

  • Local FSA or Extension Service mailing lists
  • Membership lists from land trusts and other organizations
  • Lists of unpaid members from the previous year—some of the easiest recruitment is retention of existing members
  • Local plat maps
  • Form small groups among your committee and brainstorm prospects by commodity

If you want to increase the odds that new prospects will join, don’t cold call them asking for a check.  After you’ve created a prospect list send a letter or make a phone call to those prospects informing them of the membership campaign and that a County Farm Bureau member will be in touch to visit with them about membership very soon.

Step 4: Recruit Membership Workers

While the membership committee will be the key leaders, bringing in a few additional volunteers helps get new faces involved and spreads the work load out even more.

  • If possible, split your volunteers up into groups of two. 
  • If they live near each other that’s also helpful.  When it comes time to divvy up the prospect list, you can assign prospects that live in the same area as your recruiter(s).
  • Try to pair a seasoned member with someone newer to Farm Bureau.
  • It’s also helpful if you can pair an older member with a younger member and even better if they have backgrounds in different commodities.

These initial steps are designed to help make the organization of a membership drive more manageable; it creates bite-sized steps and encourages enlisting the help of several other volunteers.  In the final post of this series, we’ll chat about kicking off your campaign, what to say to prospective members and some suggestions for following up with new members once the campaign is over.