Membership Blog

The Membership Blog

Everything you need to know about membership at Great River Rescue.

by Brandon Mustful

Great River Rescue was incorporated as the Beltrami Humane Society on September 20, 1977.  The legal outline for the creation and governance of the organization were stated in two documents: the Articles of Incorporation, and the organization’s By-Laws.  These documents dictated the purpose and governance structure of the organization, and also stipulated the responsibilities of the directors of the organization.  Unlike for-profit businesses, Great River Rescue does can not issue stock and does not have stockholders.  However, within the By-Laws was written the provision for membership with the organization.  Although membership is not required for a nonprofit organization, it is a common aspect of healthy nonprofit agencies.

Article III our By-Laws state the following regarding Membership:

“Any natural person who meets the following criteria shall be eligible for membership in the Corporation:
All persons who serve on a committee, who participate as a volunteer, and/or who have contributed donations since the last annual meeting of the membership and has completed and submitted to the corporation, a membership form, as documented by the Secretary of the Corporation on a membership list that shall be maintained as a permanent record of the Corporation. That membership list shall control in all questions or disputes involving which persons are members of the corporation from time to time. Each member will be expected to promote and work toward the accomplishment of the purposes of the corporation and to contribute to it.”

Therefore, becoming a member of Great River Rescue is relatively simple.  Basically, members need to 1) contribute toward the accomplishment of the purposes of the organization, and 2) fill out a membership form.

Once you become a member of the organization there are several specific rights and responsibilities earned.  Going back to the By-Laws, members firstly earn voting rights in the organization.  Every member has the right to place nominations for the Board of Directors, elect the Board of Directors, and vote on ratification of any amendments, additions, or repeals of the By-Laws by the Board of Directors.

Article IV of the By-Laws outline rights and procedures regarding meetings of members.  In summary, members are to be notified of the annual meeting to elect the Board of Directors, and they have the right to hold special meetings to discuss specific issues.  The rules governing all of these meetings gets a little complex, but they exist to give members a reasonable manner of discussing and voting on issues affecting the organization.

So, that covers a little of the nitty gritty legal details of membership within our organization.  In more common terms, members are the community of supporters who believe in the work of this organization and want to ensure its continued existence.  As a corporation, there is not single owner of Great River Rescue.  We are owned by the community.  We are here because the community saw a need back in 1977 and decided to do something about it.  We continue to exist because people believe that our work is not done.

Members are EXTREMELY important to the health and long-term viability of this organization.  Understandably, many members probably don’t feel like they play such an important role.  Great River Rescue has a paid staff and a full set of directors that manage the day-to-day activities of the organization.  We also have many volunteers that are not necessarily members that help gets things done on a daily basis.  Nonetheless, we need our members.  In fact, we recognize that if we want to grow and be a stronger organization we need to engage our membership further.  Therefore, I’ve created a short survey to get some feedback from members about how they might like to get more involved.  We would also like ideas from members as to what types of activities they might like to participate in.  If you are a member or even just a volunteer at Great River Rescue please consider following the link below and giving us your feedback:

Member Questionnaire

Finally, I want to summarize some of the benefits of being a member at Great River Rescue:

  1. Earn voting rights for our Board of Directors
    • Each March we hold a General Membership Meeting.  At this meeting we discuss progress and issues affecting the organization over the last year.  Prior to the meeting, ballots are mailed to members to vote for new and renewing directors for the Board of Directors.  The Board of Directors meets monthly to discuss issues facing the organization and provide oversight and governance.
  2. You become eligible to join our Board of Directors
    • Each director on the Board of Directors must be an active member of the organization.
  3. You receive a 10% discount on shelter store items
    • Great River Rescue sells various pet supplies to aid adopters with bringing their new pet into their home.  Sales of these items benefit the organization in our mission to save companion animals.
  4. You stay informed about shelter activities
    • Members of the organization are added to our quarterly newsletter mailing list.  Members also receive regular emails about shelter activities.
  5. You get the knowledge that you are helping animals and the people who love them.
    • This is probably the most important benefit of becoming a member of Great River Rescue.  Members are invested in the work we do.  They are part of a community of animal lovers who want to see a better world for animals and a more educated populace about animal welfare issues.  Becoming a member shows that you care and you are willing to be part of solution to the problem of pet overpopulation and abuse.

If you are considering becoming a member of Great River Rescue.  Please access our membership page.  From this page you can see all of our current members and make a contribution through Paypal to become a member.  Once you submit your donation you will be contacted by Great River Rescue and receive a membership letter and card.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about membership at Great River Rescue.  If you have any questions about this article or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me at


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