I recently joined Wisconsin Farm Bureau District 2 Board Director Arch Morton, Jr., on a membership drive in south central Wisconsin. Being new to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau family, I was happy to get out and see how members are recruited and what questions they have about membership.
As a grassroots organization, members are the most important part of Farm Bureau because they decide where our organization stands on policy and what activities we participate in throughout the year.
One of my biggest questions during the day was, why aren’t these people already Farm Bureau members? We traveled to see many of Arch’s neighbors and I was surprised how many of them were not members.
“Sometimes all it takes is the ask,” Arch said. “They might not be members just because no one has ever asked.”
He explained that while he has been involved in agriculture his whole life, he joined Wisconsin Farm Bureau later in life simply because no one asked sooner. When someone reached out, he learned more about the organization and decided to join. It became very evident to me that Arch is dedicated to Farm Bureau and wants others to join because he knows first-hand the good things that the organization is doing for agriculture.
“I like to try and recruit new members because they too can be a part of what Farm Bureau does for agriculture,” said Arch passionately.
We had a very successful day signing up six new members and we are very optimistic about a seventh member sending in the application soon. This led me to wonder what tips and tricks Arch could share for member recruitment. Here are his tips for signing new members:
1. Set up appointments ahead of time.
Arch set up appointment the day of our membership drive so everyone was home and set aside time to meet with us. He also was very respectful of their time. Even though farmers are not out in the fields quite yet, he knew they were preparing equipment and getting ready for spring planting so he kept the conversations friendly but concise.
2. Have relevant information with you.
We brought a copy of the member magazine, Rural Route, to show how the state Farm Bureau office communicates with members. We also brought a copy of the county newsletter to show that members receive local communication. In addition, we also carried a policy book. On this particular day, many people were interested in where Farm Bureau stood on certain issues and took time to look over the policy information. The Farm Bureau office has documents that you can request and leave behind with people who you talk to about membership. (Note: Please let us know if there is something we can do to help you recruit new members!)
3. Tailor the conversation.
This was maybe the most important tip I took away from Arch that day. People will join Farm Bureau because they share similar values. What got me interested in Farm Bureau is probably different for you and might even be different again for someone else. Find out what really drives them, what their passion is and talk about how that fits in with what Farm Bureau does. With advocacy, policy and Ag in the Classroom there is definitely something for everyone.
Recruiting new members can be a challenge at times, but I hope these tips are helpful. As a new member of Wisconsin Farm Bureau, I really enjoyed meeting with prospective members who soon turned into new members. I took away some key information on how the communications department can better assist with member recruitment and am open to hearing more ideas.
As Arch said, “The member you sign up might be the next great leader in Farm Bureau.”
Sarah Marketon serves as the Director of Communication for Wisconsin Farm Bureau. She is a Minnesota native and an active member of the swine industry, which sparked her interest in helping farmers share their story. She is passionate about answering consumers’ questions about how food is raised and encouraging farmers to engage in those conversations.