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Member Number

For Accounts (newly created or editing later) we want to populate a custom field (Member Number) automatically with a not-previously-used number.  But, We do not want to populate this field for all Accounts, just for ones we want to have member numbers generated (many of our Accounts are not members or are branches of existing members/member numbers).  We  need to
1.  create the Member Number and
2.  populate the field. 
We are wondering has anyone done this or what ideas there might be on how to do this?