How to Bring Younger Members into Your Odd Fellows Lodge

How to Bring Younger Members into Your Odd Fellows Lodge

​This article is dedicated to the following subject: How to Bring Younger Members into Your Odd Fellows Lodge. So, fair warning. If your Odd Fellows Lodge is satisfied with a membership of Septuagenarians and has no interest in bringing in new generations of members, then you can stop reading now.

On the other hand, if your Lodge is interested in revitalizing and reviving itself, and in surviving and flourishing for future decades – then read on.

Getting Started

Let’s start with the understanding that bringing in a new generation of members is never going to be simple or easy. Folks who are in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s usually have different interests and viewpoints than folks in their 50’s, 40’s, 30’s or 20’s. The range of divergence can be huge on subjects such as music, books, television, hobbies, clothing, movies, vacations, recreational activities, jobs, living situations – you name it. That said, it is imperative for the long-term survival of the Lodge (and the Order) to bring in new blood. It is a sad truth that many Lodges have skipped an entire generation of members (sometimes even skipping two generations) due to complacency.

5 Helpful Tips

So, to help you out in the task, here are five helpful hints to bringing in younger members to your Lodge:

  1. Be realistic in your expectations. Folks usually have friends and acquaintances in their same general age range. That means that folks in their 70’s usually know other folks in that general age range; and folks in their 60’s typically know other folks in that general age range; and so on. Accordingly, if you are in your 60’s don’t try to bring in potential members in their 20’s or 30’s. It doesn’t do the Lodge much long-range good to bring in new members who are also in their 60’s, but you can certainly shoot for folks who are in their 50’s. So, rule of thumb: try to bring in new members who are about 10 years younger than you are. Over time, that will reduce the average age of the Lodge.
  2. Get modern. Email is ubiquitous. Social media is key to folks under 50 years of age. The old-school concept of paper posters and ads in the newspaper simply don’t reach the younger generations. There was a time when the telegraph was the “latest thing”, then it was replaced by the telephone. The fax machine had its hey-day but that day expired when scanners were invented. Desk top computers are passe, and laptops are in. The telephone on wall or desk has been replaced by the smartphone. Bottom line: Do your best to be current with technology. If your Lodge is still notifying members by way of “telephone trees”, you are laboring in a prior generation, and you will not attract the newer generations.
  3. Spruce up your Lodge hall. A Lodge Hall that is dingy and dark, with peeling paint, stained carpets, odoriferous restrooms, and the faint odor of disinfectant sends the wrong message to the public and to potential new members. Take the time to paint the Lodge with vibrant colors, display lively signs proclaiming “Odd Fellows” to the world. I’m not suggesting that you spend thousands of dollars to repair creaking floors, but the expenditure of some funds (and some physical labor) in cosmetic improvements to the Lodge Hall will pay dividends.
  4. Include activities that recognize and appeal to younger members. The ritual, regalia, passwords and signs resonate for members of every generation. Sure, the ritual is old and stilted, but it conveys important messages and can be credible for those who are 17 or 70. But beyond the trappings of Odd Fellowship, it’s important to recognize that if an Odd Fellows Lodge wants to invite younger members, it must be cognizant of activities that younger members enjoy. And don’t automatically say “no” if a new member suggests something that the Lodge has never done before. Think about it. For example, if a new member wants form a hiking committee – consider it and try to make it work. Further, be aware of the agenda for meetings. I have attended meetings of Lodges where the overwhelming majority of time at the meeting was spent in discussing “members sick or in distress” and repair of a leaking toilet. It’s important to discuss these items. But if a Lodge spends most of its time on such items, to new members it conveys the aura of a retirement home, and not a fraternal order.
  5. A picture tells the story. Be aware of your Lodge’s public image. If every photo sent to the newspaper, or posted on your Lodge’s website or Facebook page displays members with gray hair, what image does that convey to the public or potential new members? Now, there is nothing wrong with gray hair (I have quite a bit of it myself). But if EVERY photo of your Lodge includes only the elderly members, that sends a certain message to the public and potential applicants.

Good luck in your efforts. Your Lodge and Odd Fellowship need the energy and involvement of younger members. That’s what has kept us around for over 200 years. Don’t drop the ball while you are in the game.

F – L – T

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

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

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...

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

Back in the early 1800's, our own Thomas Wildey knew what to do to attract new members to an Odd Fellows Lodge. He contacted a local newspaper in Baltimore and hired an employee of the paper to walk up and down the main streets of Baltimore ringing a bell, seeking Odd...

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has been around for hundreds of years. But in the 21st Century, it's no exaggeration to assert that bringing new members into our Lodges is the existential question of our time. For decades our membership numbers have slowly...

5 Points To Improve Your Odd Fellows Lodge

5 Points To Improve Your Odd Fellows Lodge

A lot of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs from around California and, frankly, from other jurisdictions write to me. Most of the messages are supportive and positive. They hear our message of change and evolution, the energy and the power that comes from being active members and active Lodges.

However, I also receive messages – some from DMC members and some from folks who are not members of DMC – that are sad and discouraged. I heard from a long-time Rebekah who is so discouraged with her Lodge that she is prepared to not renew her membership and to phase out. She says the meetings are boring and unproductive – nothing really gets accomplished. She has energy and ideas, but they are rejected out of hand, and she feels her creativity is stifled. An Odd Fellow has written to me complaining that there is too much “clashing of personalities” going on in his Lodge and at his meetings – “too much back-biting and too many power plays.”

Wow.

When did we forget that the Independent Order of Odd Fellows is all about FRIENDSHIP, LOVE AND TRUTH? When have we grown so detached and so focused on our own selves and our own agendas that we forgot to speak openly person-to-person to our brothers and sisters? When did we decide that we had to pass along a “rumor” about a brother or sister, rather than candidly and directly speak to the affected brother and sister? When was the quest for “power” in the Lodge or in the Order so great that we could criticize or diminish or hurt a Lodge brother or sister?

A little self-reflection is always in order. We are here to “elevate the character of man”. Let’s make sure to start with our own character.

Lodges should be welcoming and comfortable refuges for our members. Lodges should be places where we support one another.

Let’s resolve that:

  1. No idea proposed by a member is “stupid” or “silly” or “unworkable”. Every idea is worthy of consideration and discussion. Ultimately, the idea may be accepted, modified or rejected. But let’s give our proposing brother or sister the courtesy of fair consideration.
  2. No brother or sister should be talked about behind their back. Let’s give our brothers and sisters the courtesy of direct face-to-face conversation. If they have done something really good, take the time to tell them so. If they have done something that bothers you, take the time to talk to them about it in a friendly, open and non-threatening way.
  3. No one in the Lodge should start a rumor about another member. And if you hear a rumor, it should stop with you.
  4. No meeting should be boring or unproductive. Why have a meeting if nothing gets accomplished? Every meeting should have a focus and should move toward a goal – whether it is planning a Lodge dinner, or organizing an event to support a local charity, or planning an installation of officers, etc.
  5. In everything we do in our Lodges, we should always ask the question: “Am I doing this for the good of the Order?”

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

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...

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

Back in the early 1800's, our own Thomas Wildey knew what to do to attract new members to an Odd Fellows Lodge. He contacted a local newspaper in Baltimore and hired an employee of the paper to walk up and down the main streets of Baltimore ringing a bell, seeking Odd...

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has been around for hundreds of years. But in the 21st Century, it's no exaggeration to assert that bringing new members into our Lodges is the existential question of our time. For decades our membership numbers have slowly...

Live Better In An Active Odd Fellows Lodge

Live Better In An Active Odd Fellows Lodge

In the articles appearing in this DMC Newsletter, we have often opined that the most successful Lodges are places that are fun for the members, socially active and involved in the community. These are the Lodges that will sustain themselves, thrive and grow.

But now science has come up with another reason to be involved with fun, social active and involved Lodges: You are less likely to experience cognitive decline as you age.

Yes, it’s true. In research just published in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” the scientists examined three personality traits: conscientiousness, extroversion, and neuroticism. It was noted that people who score high in the personality trait of “conscientiousness” tend to be responsible, organized, hard-working and goal-directed. People who score high in the personality trait of “extroversion” tend to be enthusiastic, gregarious, talkative and assertive. And those who score high in neuroticism have low emotional stability and have a tendency toward mood swings, anxiety, depression, self-doubt and other negative feelings. I’m sure we all know people who fit into these three personality categories. In fact, you may be in one of them yourself.

But here’s the fascinating discovery that the scientists made: Those people who scored high on conscientiousness or low in neuroticism were significantly less likely to progress from normal cognition to mild cognitive impairment as they age. And they found that people who scored high on extroversion also tended to maintain normal cognitive function longer than others.

What does all this mean in plain English? “Cognitive impairment” means your mental faculties have slowed down. The study indicated that you could delay this mental slowdown by leading a life that is more active, more fun, more involved. Certainly, being a member of a Lodge which is active, fun and involved can only help toward this goal of living a fuller, more “woke” life.

The study found no association between any of the personality traits and total life expectancy. So, an active Lodge experience will not help you live longer. But it will help you live better.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

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...

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

Back in the early 1800's, our own Thomas Wildey knew what to do to attract new members to an Odd Fellows Lodge. He contacted a local newspaper in Baltimore and hired an employee of the paper to walk up and down the main streets of Baltimore ringing a bell, seeking Odd...

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has been around for hundreds of years. But in the 21st Century, it's no exaggeration to assert that bringing new members into our Lodges is the existential question of our time. For decades our membership numbers have slowly...

Compliments to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Compliments to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

​By now, virtually everyone in Odd Fellowship recognizes the fact that we need to bring in new members as a bulwark against the natural losses incurred when older members move away, drift away or pass away.

One of the best ways to evaluate your Lodge and to analyze your program of bringing new members into the Lodge is to actually get direct input from those new members. Does your Lodge do that? Do you ask the new members to give you feedback on their experience? On the process? On the initiation? On the Odd Fellows Lodge?

You can learn a great deal that can help you in the future. Following, for example, is an email written by one of the newer members of my own Lodge, analyzing and evaluating the process he went through, leading to initiation and membership in the Lodge (one of the requirements we impose is that the applicant interview members – using a set list of questions – so that they to know one another). I won’t reveal the name of the writer, nor the names of any of the members he mentioned. But you may find this evaluation interesting and informative.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

*********************************************************************************************************************************************************

Hi Dave,

I am very much looking forward to contributing more to the lodge. I have already volunteered for the ——- event. I am very impressed with the Davis Lodge and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.). Also, I want to put in a word for my sponsor —–. Without my having known him for many years and having been impressed with how much he cares about and puts into the community and other groups in the community I may never have discovered upon this opportunity. He introduced me to the Lodge by inviting me to the Thursday night lodge event. I had a great time there but more importantly I got a real sense that this Lodge and the members I encountered and interacted with and the activities that the Davis Lodge were carrying out showed to me that this is an organization that doesn’t just talk the talk but actually “walked the walk.” In fact, by the second or third meeting I actually introduced a new friend to the Davis Lodge and I understand that he is going to pledge in the next class this year. However, it all began with knowing —– and seeing how in many different situations he really lives the principles.

I also want to mention —–‘s insights regarding overall I.O.O.F. declining membership outside of Davis, his article on this trend and how to reverse it and that analysis, and ideas are of great importance and significance beyond the Davis Lodge, the I.O.O.F. as a whole but also to many community based and social organizations, events, neighborhoods and our society as whole.

During my interview process, I made it a point to talk to interview some new members who were early in their membership as well as long term Lodge members. What I came away with is that for many Lodge members, old and new, the Davis Lodge is a very important part of their social life and that they very much missed the Lodge’s regular activities during the COVID shutdown. Social isolation and loneliness is an increasingly widespread problem, not just among elderly people, but in many other populations and segments in our society. It is impacting a range of areas such as depression, mental health, growth of extremism and the serious social divisions in our society.

I’m looking forward to making contributions to the Davis Lodge and the overall I.O.O.F. in the future.

Thanks,

—–

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

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...

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

Back in the early 1800's, our own Thomas Wildey knew what to do to attract new members to an Odd Fellows Lodge. He contacted a local newspaper in Baltimore and hired an employee of the paper to walk up and down the main streets of Baltimore ringing a bell, seeking Odd...

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has been around for hundreds of years. But in the 21st Century, it's no exaggeration to assert that bringing new members into our Lodges is the existential question of our time. For decades our membership numbers have slowly...

Sponsor a New Odd Fellow

Sponsor a New Odd Fellow

​I have three questions to ask each of you who happen to be reading this article. I expect you to be completely honest in your answers to these questions, because no one will see your answers except you. And if your answer is “NO” to any question, you may stop the inquiry – no need to answer the next question. OK, here goes:

  1. Are you a member of your Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge in good standing?
  2. Does your Odd Fellows Lodge have a membership problem? (I define membership problem as declining membership, stagnant membership, aging membership, failure to recruit younger members, very small membership, etc.)
  3. Have you sponsored an applicant for membership to your Lodge in the past three years?

So, there you have it. The third question is, in my opinion, the single most important question facing Odd Fellowship. The landscape of North America is littered with the bones of fraternal orders that were born, flourished, and flamed out when membership decline brought an end to that particular fraternal dream.

Granted, bringing in new members does little, if anything, for the current status and functioning of your Lodge. However, it is absolutely critical to the continued viability of your Lodge. If you only care about your own present personal enjoyment and happiness in the Lodge, then you can stop reading now. On the other hand, if you also care about the potential future and well-being of your Lodge and your fraternity, then read on! Because bringing in new members is the sine qua non of our continued viability. A lot of things are appropriate, important, even necessary to Odd Fellowship – such as strong leadership, well-maintained Lodge Halls, strong financial health and good record-keeping, among other matters. But all pale in significance when the Lodge starts declining in members, and slowly shrinks. One side detriment in the loss of membership quantity, of course, is the loss of membership quality. Lodges need members who have leadership skills, business skills, record-keeping skills, financial skills, and the like to make sure that the natural checks-and-balances remain in place. Often, a declining Lodge is propped up with associate members from nearby Lodges. That, however, is not a solution to the decline – it is only a postponement. And the ultimate result of a shrinking membership is the final coup de grace when the Lodge can’t even muster a quorum to conduct business and is compelled to consolidate with another Lodge or simply give up its charter. If you think this can’t happen to your Lodge, think again. Odd Fellowship in North America has seen hundreds of Lodges disappear in this fashion over the last Century.

So, what can you do about it?

It’s pretty simple, really. Just sponsor a new member. If every member of the Odd Fellows would bring in just one new member every two years, we would not be concerned about membership declines. But in reality, the vast majority of our members don’t bring in new members – not yesterday, not now, not ever. They ignore this responsibility or just figure someone else will do it. This complacent attitude, Brothers and Sisters, is the real “membership problem”, and is most dangerous to the future of our Order.

F – L – T

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

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

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...

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

Back in the early 1800's, our own Thomas Wildey knew what to do to attract new members to an Odd Fellows Lodge. He contacted a local newspaper in Baltimore and hired an employee of the paper to walk up and down the main streets of Baltimore ringing a bell, seeking Odd...

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has been around for hundreds of years. But in the 21st Century, it's no exaggeration to assert that bringing new members into our Lodges is the existential question of our time. For decades our membership numbers have slowly...

No One Attends “Odd Fellows University”

No One Attends “Odd Fellows University”

No one attends “Odd Fellows University” before they become an Odd Fellow.

Like everyone else who first joins the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, I was generally ignorant about the ritual, the codes, the rules and traditions of Odd Fellowship. Over the years, of course, through study, observation and just plain old osmosis, I have learned a quite a bit. I’ve served as a Noble Grand of my Odd Fellows Lodge, as Grand Master of my Grand Lodge, as Grand Patriarch of my Grand Encampment, Secretary of my Rebekah Lodge, and as Deputy Commander of my Military Council of Patriarchs Militant. I’ve written three books about Odd Fellowship, and on three occasions, I have chaired my jurisdiction’s membership educational seminar. Yet, with all this background and experience, eighteen years after I first joined, I still learn things about our fraternity every day. Education is a key component of Odd Fellowship, yet it is often overlooked or ignored – particularly at the Lodge level. The things we learn in this Order occupy multiple dimensions. At the apex is the ritual and secrets – the things that make us a fraternal order rather than a club. The ritual and the secrets cover the gamut in four Odd Fellows Degrees, the Rebekah Degree, the Encampment (and, while it lasts, the Ladies Encampment Auxiliary) and the Patriarchs Militant. Ours is a fraternal order of symbols – the three links, the three pillars, the heart in the hand, the dove, the crook, the sword and dozens of others. Ours is also a fraternal order that operates at different levels – local Lodges, Grand Lodges and the Sovereign Grand Lodge. We have Lodges in other countries and on other continents that are both similar and different from what we have in North America.

There is the unique history of this Order. The voluminous Codes that contain our laws, and the Constitutions and Bylaws of our units have changed and morphed over the decades. There are colors, and regalia, and meeting room layouts, and costumes, and accoutrements. There are seals, and ball ballot boxes, masks, and “scenes”. There are established procedures, and warrants. There are rules for “escorting” and “honors of the Order.” Lodges have numerous officer positions, both elected and appointed, with distinct responsibilities. There are unwritten “rules” and “traditions” that we follow or try to follow, or at least try to understand.

If you want to be a “life-long learner” Odd Fellowship would be a great endeavor for you. After 18 years, I’m still learning.

Bottom line, the more you know, the more you can participate fully in our Order. New members just being initiated come into our Order with a very small quantum of information of what it means to be an Odd Fellow. It is really incumbent on long-time members of our fraternity to find ways to mentor and educate our newer members.

F – L – T

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

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

A Look Into The Future of Odd Fellows – Do the Math.

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...

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

What is the best way to attract new members to your Odd Fellows Lodge?

Back in the early 1800's, our own Thomas Wildey knew what to do to attract new members to an Odd Fellows Lodge. He contacted a local newspaper in Baltimore and hired an employee of the paper to walk up and down the main streets of Baltimore ringing a bell, seeking Odd...

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

Anatomy of an Effective Membership Development Program

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has been around for hundreds of years. But in the 21st Century, it's no exaggeration to assert that bringing new members into our Lodges is the existential question of our time. For decades our membership numbers have slowly...

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