Monday, May 16, 2011

Who is IFT? We are

IFT is about each one of us. That's the message shared by Erin Carter, our "Section Champion" hailing from the national office in Washington, D.C. at our Cactus IFT Section dinner meeting in March.

IFT has expanded its volunteer task force with 1,614 unique volunteer members. “A new record!” she reports. Membership recruitment efforts are also up with membership exceeding 1 percent for the first time in 15 years. In addition, the organization is doing a lot for its members, which includes the traditional annual meeting and section events.

The Section Engagement Advisory Panel is actively involved in fostering consistent membership experience throughout IFT. They have an outreach program and make visits to different regions across the country. They are also looking for what students can gain from and IFT experience.

The new focus of IFT on members is a brainchild of the Member Value Proposition Panel, who are looking to transform the brand with attributes and behaviors that include collaboration, inclusiveness, scientific integrity, and passion for excellence.

"One of the things we struggle with is a brand disconnect," Carter said, showing us the different types of IFT logos seen throughout the country. "We're trying to gain consistency and relevance."

IFT also launched a new "Web site community” with features like personal profiles and blogs similar to other social media sites like Facebook. Carter guided us through online.

On the Web site, Carter said, a major resource is the IFT publications including a scientific journal, magazines, and weekly newsletters. The newsletters even include a nutraceuticals and functional foods focus.

Resources included "Feeding Tomorrow," a new IFT initiative, and the widely read IFT Magazine, which is free for a limited time.

"You can look through back issues," Carter said. You can even increase the font size of the articles for easier reading.

The Web site is a wealth of information, but should someone seek additional education, Carter shares, there is also a list of online courses ranging from food science to food safety.
The Web site also has a referral program, a member directory, meeting and event information, past meeting resources, and a career center (complete with salary surveys and job boards), and a "Marketplace," which is a directory of food companies.

She tells us, "This is the most important part. I cannot stress this enough." What is she talking about? She says it is the filling out of the personal profile including the “My Interests” section. This allows IFT to know more about how people would like to volunteer within the group.

"You can tell us how you want to be involved," Carter said. "This allows we the staff to know how to contact you, the volunteers."

The information populates the Membership Directory and can open up important contact opportunities such as hiring experienced quality assurance personnel.

“It’s the most powerful tool we have,” she said. “The Web site is great, but this solves your business needs.”

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