Tips for Success from IFAJ Member Guilds (Canada)

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

What is your definition of success? How do you achieve it within your guild?

Tips from:

The Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF)

Allison Finnamore

I’m not sure if there is one special tip for success to engage members and get them out to meetings (if you know, please tell me!); however, offering a variety of outreach methods lets members decide how they can get involved and which benefits they’ll gain from this amazing community of farm journalists and communicators.

One of the challenges we face at the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) is the distribution of our approximately 650 members. Canada is a large country (9.9 million square kilometres with six time zones) with a low population (36.7 million). Our members are spread over a wide area – some are secluded in rural areas, while others are based in cities which act as agricultural hubs. We are represented at IFAJ by the CFWF, and CFWF is made up of six regional associations.

Here are some ways our regional associations engage members:

– Hold small, informal meetings. When several agricultural journalists cover the same event, for example, make a point of someone from the presidium organizing an informal gathering. Maybe it’s a meet-up for drinks or a longer gathering for dinner. It’s an excellent, simple way to pull members together.

– Host a Lunch and Learn. In an area where several guild members are nearby, gather at a local office boardroom or a room at the library during the noon break for a meeting or learning event. Invite members to bring the lunch they brought from home and eat during the gathering, which involves a brief presentation by a guest speaker or fellow member. These are short, lasting only about one hour, and are a good way for guild members to stay in touch.

– Co-ordinate an annual tour. One CFWF regional association always has great success with their tours. The two-day tour explores different parts of the province and is the perfect opportunity for the presidium to involve members in those local areas. As hosts, members who may not otherwise be engaged with the association help find local farms and guest speakers, accommodations and sponsors. It’s also an opportunity for the unengaged members who aren’t on the planning committee to get a first-hand taste of what the association is about when the tour rolls into town.

Getting attendance at meetings can be challenging, but it’s also important to remember those who are showing up. Don’t get so focused on drawing new members in or getting attendance numbers up, that the needs of long-standing, loyal members are forgotten. It’s a balance that each guild must find.

CFWF members celebrate success during the 2018 Annual conference held in Manitoba from September 20-22