The art of drawing a crowd to annual meetings

Verendrye annual meeting

Verendrye Electric members enjoy a free meal during their cooperative’s 2013 annual meeting in Minot, ND.

The relationship between a member and their cooperative is special.

Electric cooperatives strive to provide affordable and reliable electricity to each of its members at the end of the line. In turn, the membership elects representatives to represent and be accountable to them, and actively participates in setting policies and making decisions that affect their respective cooperative.

While cooperative member-owners hold such an important stake in their cooperatives, it’s not always easy to encourage their attendance at annual meeting. Longtime Verendrye Electric General Manager Bruce Carlson, however, is well-versed in that art. Read more about how Verendrye Electric, a member of Basin Electric, draws its members to annual meetings in the September-October 2013 issue of Basin Today: Annual meeting success.

An excerpt:

The annual meeting serves as a valuable opportunity for the cooperative to communicate with its membership. It’s often a chance for the cooperative’s leadership to speak to members, local media, city councilmembers and county commissioners, all at once.

“It’s all about communication,” Carlson says. “My grandpa said, ‘communication is the key to understanding.’ If there’s a problem out there, I want to know about it. Let’s find out about it and fix it. That philosophy’s worked now for, let’s see, I’m going on my 37th year.”

As seemingly endless lines of people indicated on June 13, serving a good meal is also an important component of a well-attended annual meeting.

Virgil Lentz, Minot, was watching the grandchildren ricochet inside an inflatable bouncing castle before Verendrye’s meeting began. He didn’t hesitate to share his main reason for attending this year.

“We usually come for the food, no doubt about it. They have a good annual meeting, though I think most people come for the food,” he says with a wink. “But they provide good service, and good people run the thing (Verendrye).”

Watch a video taken at Verendye Electric’s 2013 annual meeting to learn how the cooperative successfully draws members to the event meeting.

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