• Unlock the Potential of the Food Science Community

IFT Membership Model & Governance Documents Updates FAQ’s

FAQ CATEGORIES [each category will link to the respective section]
Last updated February 9, 2017

WHY A NEW MODEL AND WHO DECIDED ON THE CHANGE
NEW MEMBERSHIP STRUCTURE
IMPACT ON CURRENT MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIP, AWARDS AND FELLOWS
QUESTIONS AND IMPACT ON SECTIONS
QUESTIONS REGARDING DIVISIONS
MEMBERSHIP RATES
GOVERNANCE DOCUMENTS UPDATES
IFT ANNUAL EVENT AND PRODUCT PURCHASE IMPACT
IMPLEMENTATION
OPPORTUNITIES/RESOURCES TO ASK QUESTIONS AND LEARN MORE


WHY A NEW MODEL AND WHO DECIDED ON THE CHANGE


1) Why are these changes being made?

At the heart of this proposal is the desire to remain true to IFT’s mission and vision and to ensure that IFT provides professionals in the science of food with greater access to the tools, resources, and engagement opportunities needed to be successful in their careers and in advancing the science of food.  The proposed membership categories were designed to more directly support the expressed needs of IFT’s members and prospective members while also preserving the importance of recognizing member dedication and commitment to the advancement of the science of food.  See: Professional Membership, Awards and Fellows section below for more details.

Much research and Board review was done to help inform the proposed model. As the landscape of member organizations continues to change, to remain relevant to shifts in our profession, along with shifts in demographics and member needs, the IFT Board of Directors felt it was important to take a thoughtful and comprehensive look at our membership model, including extensive market research; qualitative phone calls with current, past, and prospective members; member surveys; and focus groups. The feedback received led us to reshape our current model.

Another contributing factor was a 20-year membership decline. While this has leveled off in recent years, it remains a concern of the IFT Board of Directors and staff. We have also heard from section leaders that they had been experiencing a decline in their pool of volunteer leaders, impacting the viability of some sections. They shared that a lower-cost option for membership would help them in bringing back some members lost during unification.

This model provides membership options more directly in line with needs expressed by our current and prospective members, including providing more affordable and internationally accessible options for our growing community.

2) Who decided on this change and why does it require a vote?

IFT’s Board of Directors voted on this new model during their November 2016 meeting. Because the new model requires a change to IFT’s Constitution, a membership vote is needed to approve the changes.


3) When was this change announced and when will it take place?

IFT’s Board of Directors voted on this new model during their November 2016 meeting, with announcements going to members in January 2017. This new model, if approved, would officially launch in September 2017.


4) Were members consulted on this change?

Yes. Extensive market research was conducted over a three-year period, including more than 100 qualitative phone calls with current, past, and prospective members; member surveys; and focus groups.


5) Did section leaders have an opportunity for input into these proposed changes?

Yes. We have also heard from section leaders, who shared how their pool of volunteer leaders had been on the decline, impacting the viability of some sections. They shared that a lower-cost option for membership would help them in bringing back some members lost during unification. In addition to listening to their feedback over time, all sections were invited to have a representative participate in a membership model focus group at IFT16, with 14 sections choosing to participate. Section leaders were also included in the extensive research noted above.


6) Does IFT anticipate that membership will increase as a result of these changes?

Yes. The new model better positions IFT for long-term growth and sustainability. The extensive market research; qualitative phone calls with current, past, and prospective members; member surveys; and focus groups helped IFT staff and the Board of Directors identify the right model to address the needs of current and prospective members throughout the spectrum of their careers.


7) I’ve never been a member before. What will I gain from this change?

This model provides membership options more directly in line with needs expressed by our current and prospective members, including providing more affordable and internationally accessible options for our growing community. As you will see by the features matrix, the different options provide different levels of access to IFT’s invaluable resources, products, and networking opportunities. We hope you will consider engaging with IFT in a way that fits your needs.

Return to top

NEW MEMBERSHIP STRUCTURE


1) What is the new structure?

The new membership model offers the following categories:

Premier ($209)* – provides optimal access and the highest discount to all of IFT’s invaluable resources, services, programs, and events, including IFT’s annual event

Networking and Engagement ($99)* – provides access to a subset of resources plus a discount (lower than Premier members) to IFT’s annual event and select programs and resources

Joint International (price varies) – IFT has partnered with a select group of international professional associations to offer joint international membership option
Note: rates vary due to home country partner rate.

Emeritus ($25)* – no change

Student ($50)* – no change
* Plus section dues if applicable

In addition to the categories above, we will help make membership more affordable for new professionals during the first few years after graduation through a tiered early career discount. This will be offered within the Premier membership category.

1st year post graduation ($80)
2nd year post graduation ($120)
3rd year post graduation ($160)


2) How were these categories of membership determined?

Dating back to 2013, IFT worked with the Avenue M Group, a firm that specializes in association membership and marketing, to assess our current and potential models. Avenue M Group has done extensive research in this area and has helped other associations recharge their membership models to best meet their members’ current and future needs.

IFT worked with Avenue M Group on extensive market research; qualitative phone calls with current, past, and prospective members; member surveys; and focus groups. This resulted in a number of different potential options, which were then narrowed down to this model. IFT's board and staff, after thoughtful and thorough review, feel this model will better position the organization for long-term growth and sustainability.


3) Why would someone want to join as a Premier member?

Premier members will experience the optimal professional development, engagement, and learning IFT experience. This membership category provides access to all of IFT’s great resources, services, events, and programs with the highest level discount for fee-based events, products, and services. This category also includes the ability to serve on IFT’s Board of Directors (subject to election criteria), the ability to run for leadership opportunities (subject to election criteria), a monthly print subscription to Food Technology magazine, the ability to vote in IFT elections, and the ability to volunteer on committees.


4) Why would someone want to join as a Networking and Engagement member?

Networking and Engagement members will have access to an advantageous IFT experience where they can take advantage of some of IFT’s unparalleled networking and engagement resources while also enjoying discounts on a subset of product and event offerings. Networking and Engagement members will also have access to a digital version of Food Technology magazine, have the ability to vote in IFT elections, and be able to volunteer on committees. Networking and Engagement members would not be eligible to run for IFT office. Discounts at this level are at a lower percentage than for Premier members.


5) What is the difference between the Premier member and Networking and Engagement member discount on events and products?

Premier members will experience the optimal professional development, engagement, and learning IFT experience. This membership category provides access to all of IFT’s great resources, services, events, and programs with the highest-level discount for fee-based events, products, and services. This category also includes the ability to serve on IFT’s Board of Directors, run for leadership opportunities, receive a monthly print subscription to Food Technology magazine, vote in IFT elections, and volunteer on committees.

Networking and Engagement members will have access to an advantageous IFT experience where they can take advantage of some of IFT’s unparalleled networking and engagement resources while also enjoying discounts on a subset of product and event offerings. Networking and Engagement members will also have access to a digital version of Food Technology magazine, have the ability to vote in IFT elections, and have the ability to volunteer on committees. Networking and Engagement members, however, would not be eligible to run for office. Discounts at this level are at a lower percentage than at the Premier membership level.

To view the full set of benefits and features by membership category, view the New Membership Model Features Matrix.


6) What does the Joint International membership offer?

IFT has partnered with a select group of international professional associations to offer Joint International membership option. In addition to the benefits provided by our partner, IFT provides benefits that align with those of the Networking and Engagement membership category.

This offer is currently geared towards members of partner organizations that wish to join IFT as well. IFT continues to work with our international partners to develop benefits that are mutually beneficial to our members.

7) Will a change of this nature impact the financial stability of IFT?

Based on the various levels of member research conducted with this project, the Board of Directors and staff do anticipate members will drop from the Premier level of membership to the Networking and Engagement level. We also know that former and never members find great value in IFT and the new model, which will help offset some of the loss. In addition, to the research, staff and the Board have reviewed a 5-year financial plan for the organization to ensure that a change of this nature will not impact to member product and service levels.


Return to top

IMPACT ON CURRENT MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES


1) I’m a current member. What does this change mean to me?

This new model takes into account the needs of our current, former, and potential members. This new structure will allow you to continue to engage with IFT at a level that fits your current needs. For a full listing of current benefits, visit ift.org/newmodel.

If approved, individuals currently in the member or Professional member categories will be upgraded to the new Premier membership category in September 2017. Upon renewal, members can choose to remain in the Premier membership category or switch to another category for which they may be eligible.

There are no changes planned at this time for the Student or Emeritus categories.


2) As an Emeritus member, how will the changes impact me?

There are currently no changes to Emeritus membership.


3) What happens to my Premier membership if I go back to school?

If you are currently a Premier member and plan to return to school on a full-time basis, pursuing a degree (associate or higher) in the field of food science and technology or in one or more of the sciences or branches of engineering concerned with advancing food science and technology, you would qualify for Student membership in IFT and may adjust your membership.

Please note that membership refunds are not provided when changing membership categories.


4) How does this change impact the graduating student's free year of membership?

In an effort to help make membership more affordable for new professionals during the first few years after graduation, we are replacing the current free year with a tiered early career discount that would be offered within the Premier membership category.

1st year post graduation ($80)
2nd year post graduation ($120)
3rd year post graduation ($160)

5) If our local IFT Section is not participating in the IFT Leadership Election, are we still able to vote upon the new membership model?

Yes, the annual IFT Leadership Election is open to eligible voting members. This process allows members to elect their Board of Directors and leadership of the organization, in addition to this year’s membership vote and governance document update.

Return to top

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIP, AWARDS AND FELLOWS


1) Why is there no longer a Professional membership category with the proposed new model?

With the new membership model, IFT will continue to value members who have shown commitment to the profession and to IFT. Over the past six years, IFT’s Professional membership category has seen a 26% decline. There are a few contributing factors, but confusion over the category and lack of a true benefit are things we hear from members. By merging the member and Professional member categories into the new Premier category, IFT opens up the audience of eligible, experienced participants for board leadership opportunities and awards. While the Professional membership category would go away, requirements for the IFT Fellows program and various awards and leadership positions remain in place ensuring we have the most qualified individuals representing IFT. This is also supported in how we continue to strengthen our nominations and elections process.

2) Doesn’t the elimination of the Professional Membership diminish the perception that IFT is a professional organization?

Valuing members who have shown a commitment to the profession and to IFT, is a priority of IFT. This is evident when looking at the rigorous review processes and criteria IFT has established for Fellows, Awards and Leadership eligibility.

IFT also understands that recognition is important, and will continue to be committed to finding more valuable ways to recognize members.

3) How does the membership model impact the IFT Achievement Award and Fellows programs?

There are two Achievement Awards, Carl R. Fellers and Calvert L. Willey Distinguished Service Awards, that list Professional Membership as a component of award eligibility. Both awards also include a minimum number of years of IFT membership as a qualification.  Pending the results of the vote, the IFT Board of Directors will seek input from Jury Chairs and past recipients, while collaborating with relevant awards sponsors, to review and consider if any additional criteria will be needed to ensure these awards continue to recognize exemplary accomplishments.

Current criteria for Fellows nomination outlines that nominees must have been a member of IFT for at least 15 years and a professional member.  Eligibility and requirements will continue to include a minimum number of years as a member, active in the profession for at least 15 years and earned distinction as measured by performance and accomplishment over at least 10 of these years.  Additionally, the current calculation for the number of elected Fellows annually is .03% of Professional Membership.  Pending the results of the vote, the IFT Board of Directors will appoint a Fellows Task Force to consider and recommend criteria modifications and how the organization determines the annual class size of Fellows. 

Return to top

QUESTIONS AND IMPACT ON SECTIONS


1) Will these changes affect section memberships?

There are no changes to how sections are selected. IFT members in the United States who work or reside in an area served by a section (based upon your primary address zip/postal code) will be automatically added to the section. In addition, members remain able to join as many additional sections as they wish (at the applicable rate).


2) Did section leaders have an opportunity for input into these proposed changes?

Yes. All sections were invited to have a representative participate in a membership model focus group at IFT16. In addition, section leaders were included in the extensive market research done by Avenue M Group, the consulting firm hired by IFT. Avenue M Group specializes in association membership sustainability and marketing.


3) Did IFT consider including section dues with IFT dues in the new model?

Yes, as we feel this would allow IFT to market membership in a more streamlined, less confusing fashion. At this time, however, section dues vary, and some areas are not currently served by local sections, which presents a challenge in including section dues with IFT dues; thus, no change was proposed with this model.


4) How do you anticipate these changes will impact my section?

While this new model has no direct impact on the makeup of our sections, it will provide increased options that are more directly in line with the needs of our current and prospective members. During the section leader focus group, multiple section leaders indicated this new structure should improve the health of sections and aid in succession planning. Following the launch of the new model, IFT staff will provide sections with recommended changes to section bylaws based on the new model with a reasonable timeline for completion.


Return to top

QUESTIONS REGARDING DIVISIONS


1) Will these changes affect division participation?

No. Divisions remain free and are optional special interest groups focusing on specific areas of food science and technology, bringing together IFT member talent and knowledge to explore important topics, solve problems, and help one another in the advancement of food science and technology.


2) Can I join more than one division?

Yes. IFT offers over 24 divisions to choose from, and members are able to join the divisions of their choice.


Return to top

MEMBERSHIP RATES


1) Why is there a rate increase at the Premier level?

Membership dues are a vital source of funding to support IFT’s strategic goals, priorities, and member needs. The $19 increase in dues, only $1.58 per month, supports the increase in services and benefits at the Premier level. The Premier membership category is the only category with a change in dues. It is important to also note that this is the first time in more than five years that IFT has seen an increase in member dues while it has continued to improve and expand its offerings each year.

IFT continues to explore opportunities to increase the member value in each category. As a part of the new model, Premier members will continue to receive all of the great benefits and features as they have in the past. Some new benefits to take advantage of include early access to the IFT Food Expo, annual event registration, and housing for the annual event, all beginning in 2018. We also continue to invest in our sections, which also serve our members. Finally, we will continue to explore additional member benefits and welcome your feedback.


2) Did IFT consider changes to the Student dues structure?

At this time, there are no changes proposed to the Student membership structure, but this is something we will continue to review with the leadership of IFT and IFTSA in an effort to ensure we are offering the best value to our Student members.


Return to top

GOVERNANCE DOCUMENTS UPDATES


1) Why did we have to merge the Constitution and Bylaws in order to change the membership structure? Couldn’t you just modify the Constitution?

As IFT leadership prepared the membership model recommendation, consideration was given to the impact to IFT’s Constitution and Bylaws as both governance documents reference membership categories. Thus, the proposed membership model changes would require updates to both documents. While the Bylaws can be amended by the IFT Board of Directors, any amendments to the Constitution require a member vote.

Considering our current structure, and after careful research as to best practices among professional associations and nonprofits, as well as a recommendation from legal counsel, the board agreed it was in the best interest of IFT to merge its Constitution into its Bylaws and reflect the needed updates into one Bylaws document.

In doing so, IFT would be able to provide better:


Efficiency

With the two separate documents, both must be consulted before reaching a decision on how an issue was handled. Some information was present in only one of the two, and there was also some redundancy. Merging the documents means only having to consult one, allowing for a more efficient process.

Clarity

Merging the Constitution with the Bylaws eliminates the confusion caused when an item is addressed in only one of the two governing documents. Everything will be in the same place.

Risk Management

Having one consistent governing document helps to mitigate the risk of misinterpretation.

Professional Association Standards

The majority of associations have a single Bylaws document. For the reasons above, general counsel suggests that merging the Constitution with the Bylaws is a best practice for any nonprofit association.


2) Why is the membership model and the merger of the Constitution and Bylaws included in one vote?

Because the new model and the merging of the Constitution into the Bylaws are interdependent, the IFT Board of Directors determined it was best to incorporate the new membership model and governance documents updates into one vote.


3) Voting "yes" will reflect approval for both the new membership model as well as merging IFT's Constitution into the Bylaws?

If you vote “no,” you will be voting to not support either the new membership model or the Constitution and Bylaws merger.


4) Does merging the Constitution into the Bylaws take away some of my member rights/power to influence governance decisions?

IFT ’s Board of Directors is the governing body of the organization. While this revised structure allows the Board to make changes to the merged bylaws & constitution without a member vote, IFT's annual election process gives eligible voting members the ability to elect their Board of Directors and leadership of the organization. There is no change to that process. IFT will remain a membership organization with leadership elected by its members.


5) If the IFT Constitution is merged with the Bylaws, will members have a say in future decisions about membership category offerings?

As was demonstrated in this process, IFT is committed to including member feedback in decisions of this magnitude. Moving forward, we would anticipate additional member feedback should any part of the model require additional modifications.

6) What percent of membership needs to approve the bylaw changes for it to become effective?

Illinois non-profit law sets a quorum of 10% of eligible voting members, when not defined in the governing documents (as is the case with IFT). That figure will be determined based on eligible voting membership as of January 31, 2017 (the day the election opens). IFT’s constitution specifies that a two thirds approval is required for modification.


Return to top

IFT ANNUAL EVENT AND PRODUCT PURCHASE IMPACT


1) How does this affect my IFT annual event registration and other product purchases?

There will be no changes to previous purchases made. Future purchases will be subject to pricing based on your category of membership at the time of purchase.


Return to top

IMPLEMENTATION


1) When do the changes go into effect?

If approved, this new model would officially launch in September 2017.


2) Will this new model impact my membership renewal date?

No. There will be no changes made to current membership renewal dates.


3) When can new members join using the new membership categories?

New members can join using the new membership categories beginning in September 2017.


4) When can existing members select the new options?

Individuals currently in themember or Professional member categories would be upgraded to the new Premier membership category in September 2017. Upon renewal, members can choose to remain in the Premiermembership category or switch to another category for which they may be eligible.


5) Who is eligible to serve in a leadership capacity under the new model?

While only Premier members are eligible to serve on IFT’s Board of Directors and run for president of IFT, members in all categories are eligible to serve on committees and task forces and other volunteer opportunities in addition to leadership roles at the section level.


6) Who is responsible for determining the dues amount?

As outlined in the Bylaws, IFT’s Board of Directors determines member dues rates. There are no proposed changes to this process.


Return to top

OPPORTUNITIES/RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE


1) What resources are available to me to learn more and ask questions?

Virtual Town Hall

IFT hosted a virtual Town Hall on Thursday, January 26, at 2 p.m. CST. During this Town Hall, IFT President John Coupland, along with IFT staff, provided a high level overview about the proposed model and needed Constitution merger with the Bylaws. A link to the recording is provided below.

Helpful Information and Resources 

New Membership Model and Governance Documents Update Webpage
New Membership Model Features Matrix
(PDF)
Redlined edits to IFT Bylaws (PDF)
Clean version of proposed Bylaws (PDF)
New Membership Model and Governance Update FAQs (PDF) updated 02/17
Virtual Town Hall Recording and Presentation

2) I have more in-depth questions on the new membership model or proposed merger of the Constitution and Bylaws. Who should I contact at IFT?

Members can also direct questions to vote@ift.org.

Return to top