Hey y’all, I was thinking about this article and wanted to share
Last year Grand Master Vincent Doria sent me this article that was posted on facebook by the Grand Lodge of California… We are pretty much on board with all this, but I thought it was worth sharing with y’all again!
A Three-Year Plan to Re-Charge Your Lodge
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The day-before-yesterday, I posted a Facebook article about why Lodges diminish and die. The article has already received well over 1,000 Facebook reads, with many asking what they can do to stop the membership losses.
So here is a plan to help you turn the tide of membership losses.
Below is an article that I first published on January 19, 2013. It presented a three-year plan to “re-charge, re-invigorate, and re-new” your Lodge. The article suggests specific, tested and successful ways that Lodges can actually stop the decline, reverse it, and start growing. I believe that virtually every Lodge can be saved and can be re-invigorated.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While a handful of Odd Fellows Lodges are growing, and another handful are maintaining a static membership, the vast majority of Lodges are shrinking. The math is not complicated. Members move away, depart, stop coming to meetings, lose interest or pass away – and at the same time, the Lodge doesn’t add new members or, perhaps, adds one or two new members who might be close friends or relatives of existing members. And too, often, the new members added are of the same age as existing members. The result is inevitable: Lose three members and add one member, over time, and you have a Lodge in trouble. Clearly, we must do something to change this equation.
I am often asked: What can we do to grow our Lodge?
Well, talk is cheap. Action is required. So, here, for those who are truly interested, is a three-year plan to re-charge, re-invigorate, and re-new your Lodge. (For those members of the Order who are satisfied with the status quo of your Lodge, and who are happy to maintain your Lodge just the way it is for the balance of your life, you can stop reading here.) For those members who wish to build for the future of your Lodge, and guarantee that the tenets and ideals of this great fraternity live on and flourish, please read on. The secret of success is not just to hold meetings. We must also increase our internal good fellowship activities and increase our involvement with and exposure in the community.
1. Open your Lodge to the public (and to potential members) by having open, social meetings – one such social meeting each month should do it. Of course, no ritualistic work is conducted and no secrets are revealed at such meetings.
2. Bring in one or two major community leaders into membership in your Lodge. This can be a local elected official, a recognized business leader, a leader in his or her profession (like a lawyer, a CPA, a banker, a Judge, a physician, the County Sheriff, etc.) These people will dramatically raise the community profile of your Lodge and can become “rainmakers” in bringing in new members.
3. Plan and execute one major community event, to benefit a local charitable or community group, and make sure it is publicized.
4. Plan for and put on one social event each month for the Lodge members and their guests. This can include themed potlucks (for example, Italian potluck), “Bunko” Night at the Lodge, Trivia Night, Poker Night, Movie Night, a talk and demonstration on beer brewing, etc.
5. Target husbands and wives, both, to consider membership in your Lodge.
1. Hold a “retreat” of your active members and lay out five goals for the year. These five goals should always include a goal identifying the number of Lodge applicants you intend to bring in during the year. Resolve at this retreat NOT to be negative. Positively listen to all ideas that are proposed and put on the table, and then decide which you will implement.
2. Continue each of the Year One activities into Year Two.
3. Develop a “signature event” that your Lodge will organize and put on for the community – which will become an annual event. For example: An “OddtoberFest”, a wine tasting event at the Lodge, Pasta Feed, etc.
4. Organize a committee structure for the Lodge. These committees can include: A Good Fellowship Committee, a Community Support Committee, a Music Committee, a Photography Committee, etc. Give each committee an assignment and let them do their work.
5. Target young potential members for your Lodge – from 30 to 40 years of age.
1. Continue each of the Year One and Year Two activities into Year Three.
2. Find out what member’s are interested in doing, and do it. If members wish to take a wine country trip, figure out a way to do it. If members want to put on a Bingo night for the community, find ways to do it. If members wish to go on a hike, etc., let them organize to do it.
3. Contact, personally, each of your “inactive” members and let them know about Lodge activities – see if you can bring them back into active membership in your Lodge.
4. Connect with your members. Ideally, have all members connected through e-mail so that everyone can be kept posted and informed. For those who don’t have e-mail, set up a phone tree.
5. Target even younger potential members for your Lodge – from 16- 29 years of age.
This Plan of Action can work for your Lodge! It does not diminish, in any way, the principles of our Order. It seeks only to increase your membership, and in this way will benefit your Lodge as well as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
F – L – T
A good time was had by all at our February Odd Fellowship Potluck Supper… So much good food… oh my goodness! If you didn’t make it.. you seriously missed out!
The Jefferson Odd Fellows Lodge was a huge part of my childhood. Growing up there was Daddy’s Lodge book that we couldn’t touch because it was super secret, Mama’s Rebeckas stuff… if we asked what they did at lodge Daddy would just say they supported an orphanage in Greensboro.. or sometimes he would get twinkly eyed and say “you have to ride a goat up the stairs to get to be an Odd Fellow” At any rate it was a subject of complete fascination!
In 2009 Sam Weaver approached me and said… remember all those Lodge Fish Frys we went to as kids? Of course I did, good memories! Well, its dying.. and if we want to save it we are going to have to work at it, and more good news, women can now be Odd Fellows .. sign this application ! (He’s a bit bossy but we love him anyhow!)
My husband had just died and Mama had metastatic breast cancer in her bones.. and I really didn’t see what I could possibly add to the lodge.. but I joined, was initiated and did my degree work.. and then quit coming! I didn’t really show back up regularly for about 3 years. Just life getting in the way, and my Odd Brethren weren’t really brethren although I liked them all well enough… it was just another meeting. And I couldn’t get myself excited about another meeting. Oh there was the occasional trying to recommit, a Christmas party, an occasional meeting usually right after New Years.. that kind of thing, you know!
At some point I was at a meeting, and Joel Weaver stood up and said ” If we aren’t going to do anything this year, I think we need to turn in our charter” Joel is an amazing Odd Fellow and not given to drama and overstatement.. I knew he was right, we had to grow and change or die! Sam, Jim and Kathy Weaver, Joel … they had been working hard.. bringing new people in only to watch them dwindle away again. Like me ( Sorry y’all !)
Anyway, Joel’s words lit a fire under my butt, and I decided to really BE an Odd Fellow. In the process of initiating and getting new members through degrees, I found myself committing over and over again. Every time we have a work day, or a social event like the one last night we grow closer as family, truly brothers and sisters. If we were to disband I would miss every one of you!
Uploading the pictures that Sharon Eller, one of our new applicants, took last night, I was looking at pics from the last couple years.. so many faces that we don’t see now. I know that its a personal sacrifice to get out and come to lodge at 7:00 .. I KNOW ! heck, I turn into a pumpkin at 8! But it’s a lot easier now to make that drive to town than it used to be, because I know I’ll see people I love, people I can count on, people who have a heart for helping people in need. My Odd Family! In my opinion, which isn’t worth a hill of beans, but anyhow.. Nurturing new members is the most important part of keeping our lodge living. We live in a busy time, people are TIRED!!! If I’m going to go out at night to a meeting, it needs to feed my soul. Being a part of something that helps people, seeing my Odd Family, does that ! Odd Fellows
I love being an Odd Fellow !
See y’all soon and thanks so much for being here last night, Nancy