For the last decade, the Dedicated Members for Change (DMC) has reiterated that the future of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is dependent upon membership growth. To remain viable, Odd Fellows Lodges have to add new members and have to find ways to retain existing members. A Lodge that does little more than hold a monthly meeting is a boring Lodge, and will find it hard to add young blood and may find it even harder to keep members engaged.
How to avoid being a boring Odd Fellows Lodge? There are two ways to do this. First, the Lodge can plan, organize, sponsor and host community events. Reaching out into the surrounding community raises the public profile of the Lodge and engages the Lodge members in fun, useful and community-serving activities. Community service is a great way to help members fulfill their desire to help others. Second, the Lodge can plan, organize, sponsor and host social events for the members. These social events can also include member’s families, and guests, and applicants for membership. The social events do not have to be big, extravagant, or complicated productions. Rather, the focus should be on fraternity and friendship. Particularly for the smaller Lodges, simple is best.
This DMC Newsletter will be dedicated to giving interested Lodges some suggestions for simple social events that your Lodge can consider. There are dozens and dozens of possibilities. Here are five examples, to get your mental juices flowing:
1. Social Meeting of the Lodge. While formal meetings, following the ritualistic requirements, are de rigueur in our Order, there is no prohibition to social meetings. In fact, they are encouraged. So, a Lodge can hold a regular meeting once each month; but the Lodge can also hold one or more “social meetings”. What is a social meeting? Simply put, it is a meeting of the Lodge that uses no secrets – no passwords, signs, grips, voting signs, etc. – and it is open to both members and non-members. These gatherings often accompany a meal, or snacks, and provide a great opportunity to expose potential applicants to the Lodge and its members. Often, there is time allocated for reports from various committees on upcoming events, letters from Grand Lodge and the Grand Master can be read and shared, and sometimes members can give presentations on historical IOOF information or talks on other topics of general interest.
2. Trivia Night. Trivia has proven to be a popular modern phenomenon, of interest to all ages and all generations. Sponsoring a “Trivia Night” at the Lodge is easy, and provides a fun exercise for members and guests. Here’s how it works: You need to designate one (or more) members who can serve as trivia masters. These trivia masters develop the questions and the answers. In my Lodge, we do “Trivia Night” every week on Thursday evening. The trivia master develops three rounds of 10 questions in each round. Attendees play by table, so it becomes a group sport. The questions typically provide multiple-choice answers (so if participants don’t know the answer, they can at least narrow it down). After each round, the team with the most correct answers is declared the winner and is given a prize (typically cookies which tend to be shared with all tables). Trivia masters should be prepared for ties, with tie-breaker questions.
3. Movie Night. All you need for movie night is a big screen TV or a projection TV system, and the ability to play DVD’s. Popcorn, sodas, beer and wine are welcome additions. The “Movie Night”, again, is a great social experience for Lodge members and also for family members and guests. Watching a film in a group enhances the experience, particularly if time is allocated after the movie ends to discuss the nuances of the film. Care should be taken in choosing a film to be able to appeal to a large number of viewers. Light comedies are usually best in this regard. Another genre that appeals to a significant number of viewers is the classic film
4. Self-Portrait Art Night. My Lodge recently experimented with a “Self-Portrait Art Show.” Members could use whatever medium they preferred – oil paint, watercolor, pencil, sculpture, photograph, etc. It was great fun creating the works of “art” and even more fun walking through the Lodge viewing the various creations. A local artist was invited to the Lodge to “judge” the works, and ribbons were awarded in seven categories. Background live music and a little wine created the aura of a real art show. Members enjoyed the event so much, the Lodge decided to do something like it every year.
5. Outdoor Activities. Social events are certainly not restricted to the Lodge Hall. They can be scheduled in member’s homes, member’s backyards, or even in the great outdoors. If there are five or more members who wish to engage in an activity outside of the Lodge, why not accommodate them? Examples of these sorts of social endeavors include: visits to a local brewery or winery, hiking on a local trail, a photography outing, a local bike trip, wine-tasting at a member’s home, enjoying cigars in a member’s backyard, visiting an Odd Fellows Museum or an Odd Fellows Cemetery in your jurisdiction. The possibilities abound.
Have fun with it!
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
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