Here’s an interesting and useful exercise you may wish to try. It’s easy, and it may tell you a great deal about the future of your Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge.

Gather the Necessary Information

Talk to your IOOF Lodge’s Financial Secretary (or Secretary if you don’t have a Financial Secretary) and obtain the year of birth for each of your Lodge members. You don’t need or want the corresponding names, nor do you need the day and month of birth. Just the year of birth of each member will do. So, it’s really quite confidential. The only person who would actually have the name of each member and their year of birth would be your Financial Secretary (or Secretary) and they already have that information in their records. You would just get a list of years of birth, with no corresponding names. So, this exercise is quite anonymous.

Once you have the years of birth of each of your Lodge members, it’s simple math to figure out the average age of your Lodge’s membership. By way of example, assume your Lodge has 12 regular members, and you received the following years of birth for your Lodge’s 12 members:

1950
1943
1946
1944
1962
1940
1954
1949
1946
1955
1948
1951

Do the Math

Just add up those 12 numbers and in this case you have: 23,388. Now divide the 23,388 by 12 and you are left with 1949. That is the average year of birth of your Lodge members. Then take the current year (2022) and subtract that average year of birth (1949) and the number you are left with is the average age of your Lodge members. In the example given, the average age is 73.

What do the Number Tell You?

In the example given, it tells you that this is an Odd Fellows Lodge of very old members. Most everyone in the Lodge is in their 70’s. In fact, there are only three members who are not in their 70’s. This Lodge is in trouble at two levels. First, the membership is very small. With only 12 members, it wouldn’t take much for the Lodge to have problems filling all necessary positions. Checks and balances will invariably be lax. And a Lodge of 12 members will certainly have quorum problems. I would wager that this fictional Lodge avoids quorum problems because it has associate members from other Lodges that fill in the gaps.

Investigate Further

And, if you want to drill down even further and determine where your Lodge is going – get the years of birth of the new members your Lodge has initiated for the past three years, as well as the number of new members initiated in the past three years. Again, it’s a simple math exercise to determine the average age of the new members to your Lodge. This additional exercise will reveal red flags about the future of the Lodge. For example, it your Lodge has initiated zero new members in the last three years, the flag is about as red as it can be. And even if the Lodge has initiated some new members over the past three years, if the average age of those new members is in the 70’s, there is (sad to say) virtually no future for that Lodge. A Lodge of septuagenarians that brings in new members who are also septuagenarians might as well be a retirement community. What will that Lodge look like in 10 years? I guess it will be a Lodge of octogenarians. How will such a Lodge be able to bring in the next generation of new members who are in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s?

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF)

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