By Mercedes Taylor-Puckett
Planning our first ever virtual convention came with some speed bumps and one of the biggest was obtaining duly-elected delegates. In a typical year, chapters across the state hold in-person meetings to conduct annual business and hold elections.
That just wasn’t an option in 2020.
Finding a solution led us into a deep dive of our membership database looking for clues as to how to reimagine our chapter meetings in a virtual-based environment – especially in areas without active county chapters. Donn said, “This unique time offered us the opportunity to reach out to the entire state membership – the inactive as well as the active – to explore opportunities to regenerate a segment of our membership we’ve neglected too long, those chapters not electing leadership and delegates for their chapter to represent them at the state convention level. We want to enable any and all KFU members to interact with those of us on the state Board of Directors and others in their area.”
So that’s what we did.
Staff broke down membership by county and, in those without an active chapter, we created grouping of counties that took into account factors like number of members, geography, production, and culture. A calendar of more than 25 Chapter Meetings via Zoom over ten evenings in October and November was developed. Each member of KFU received a personalized postcard inviting them to participate in the Road to State Convention 2020 and their Chapter Meeting. Many of you joined us for these meetings. And for some, this was the first time you interacted with KFU “face-to-face”. As a result, KFU had new faces and fresh perspectives in the state convention delegate body.
Recognizing the value of temporarily placing “orphan members” – those without an actively chartered chapter – into defined groups, the board and staff presented the convention’s delegate body with a proposal to incorporate this strategy as we transition to a new membership database software system. It was a lively discussion that extended over almost 30 minutes. Delegates pondered alternative structures such as divisions based on watersheds, interest-areas, and boundaries that would permit an easy drive to an evening meeting. If you’re curious, you can watch the session recording on KFU’s YouTube channel. (Skip to 1:22:00 Regional Chapter Proposal)
In the end, delegates requested that staff ask YOU for your ideas on the best ways to create a system that groups together members in ways that maximize potential engagement while still being practical for staff to implement.
Recognizing the value of temporarily placing those members without an actively chartered chapter into defined groups, the board and staff presented a proposal to incorporate this strategy as we transition to a new membership database software system.
We’ve created a short survey to capture your thoughts on the potential chapter grouping for counties without an active chapter. Things to keep in mind:
- Currently chartered county organizations would NOT be changed.
- Membership in each chapter grouping on the map is at the level that should members wish to seek chartering, the chapter meets the requirement.
- These un-chartered chapter groupings would assist the the office manager and membership specialist in creating a welcoming new member experience as well as opportunities to better engage with current members lacking a home chapter.
Please pop over to spend five minutes letting us know how KFU can create a valuable Farmers Union Family Structure: kansasfarmersunion.com/survey/
Do we leave things as they are with only Chartered Counties having a voice? What type of alternative, temporary groupings can KFU establish to engage and activate members outside of currently chartered areas that is still practical for staff to implement?
The survey is open until October 4 and the results will be shared with the Membership Committee as it explores options for a new membership database software system. The Membership Committee plans to send its recommendations to counties by mid-October so that the proposed chapter structures can be discussed at the local level before being considered at next year’s convention.
As always, please contact us with thoughts and ideas on how we can better serve you: email@example.com