A couple days ago, I posted the question: Do you know where your check-off dollars go? It’s interesting, that such a simple question can result in such diverse feedback. I heard from organizations who were offended by my article and those who admired it and used it as a means to reach audiences they may not have otherwise. I also heard from producers, some curious, some entirely confident, and some downright unimpressed.
Let’s say that two days ago, you weren’t really sure where your check-off dollars were going. By now, you have looked up the regional delegate responsible for representing whatever commodity it is you sell. If you haven’t phoned them yet, you intend to, yes? No excuses! I’ve driven a combine and rode a horse before; as far as I know, both are quiet machines, and the phones these days are cordless…
Now, once you figure out what exactly the organization is doing (whether its research and development, policy and negotiations, professional development and youth engagement or — in the worst case scenario — absolutely nothing), you can make an informed decision on whether or not you approve of the work.
The next steps to take are outlined below, and are dependant on your level of approval.
So you’re not a fan of your respective organization’s use of check-off dollars. You have a few options:
1. Communicate – Talk to your local representative about your concerns. Focus on constructive criticism. How can the organization improve? What change would you like to see them focus on?
2. Get Involved – Besides attending regional meetings and reading newsletter updates, consider running for a position on the board of directors, or as a delegate. Use your enthusiasm to help the organization move in the direction producers like you desire.
3. Pull funding – This should be the absolute last resort. Innovation, research, development, marketing, policy change and communications are not free. Asking for your check-off dollars back will impede progress. Try 1. and 2. first, then we’ll talk about 3.
Sorry, indifference is not an option. Try again.
Great! Don’t stop there!
Think of it this way: If you give me ten dollars, and I run out to buy you lunch (not actually going to happen, sorry!), I will not be satisfied to merely place it in your cab. I’ll want to hear back from you, so I have a better idea of your level of satisfaction. You liked the lunch? Wonderful! I’ll make it from scratch next time!
It’s not enough to approve and close your books. Don’t be afraid to provide positive feedback (as well as constructive criticism), answer surveys, attend meetings and discuss where you could see the organization going in the future.
Regardless of how you feel, it’s imperative you are involved. A bit of a hermit? At the very least, read the newsletters and attend the regional meetings. We have the right to hold these organizations accountable sure, but with every right comes responsibility.
Don’t be apathetic.