Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
One of the most successful membership development programs – by far – has been the Grand Lodge Membership Grant Program, under the auspices of the Membership Committee. The program was quite active during 2013-14, the year that Rick Boyles was Grand Master. It has been a lot less active in the current year. But I predict that the Membership Grant Program will be re-charged in the coming year, and it is certainly my hope that at least 20 Lodges will take advantage of it in 2015-16.
The program is simple, but effective. The program is all about growth of the Order – adding members to our Lodges. It has nothing to do with Grand Lodge or the Grand Master telling Lodges or members how they should grow. The program is completely dependent on local Lodges developing their own scenarios for growth. So, here’s how the membership grant program works. The Grand Lodge – through the Membership Committee – makes grants of up to $1,000 available to Lodges that wish to work on membership development. The applying Lodge need only develop a plan and an event or program focused on increasing its membership. The Grand Lodge does not dictate the plan, event or program. It’s completely up to the local Lodge to come up with a plan that works for that particular Lodge, focused on that particular community.
In the 2013-14 year, 21 Lodges received grants totaling $18,890. In the 2014-15 year, 6 Lodges received grants totaling $5,500.
How effective is the program? Very. My own Lodge received a grant in the 2013-14 year and then another grant in the 2014-15 year. The first grant was used to write, develop, lay out and publish a tri-fold brochure (complete with full color photos and narrative) all about IOOF and my own Lodge. We printed sufficient copies that it can be used for many years. The brochure is quite informative and user-friendly, and is handed to folks who visit the Lodge and/or express an interest in learning more about the Lodge. We have already handed out a considerable number of these brochures. In 2014-15, my Lodge received a second grant to help fund some events, including a 145th Lodge anniversary and community open house and the construction of a Lodge float for a local parade. The open house attracted over 100 community members, and the parade was viewed by thousands. Again, we used the brochures during the Lodge open house. The open house generated six applications for membership, with one more pending. And in the last year my Lodge has received almost 30 applications for membership.
An added benefit is that organizing the Lodge anniversary party and the local float construction provided Lodge members with some fun activities. The open house gave Lodge members an opportunity to give dozens of tours of the Lodge building and act as “docents”, talking about the history of the Order, showing members of the public the historic items in the Lodge Hall, and talking generally about IOOF and the local Lodge. The docents had a great time. And building that float was a hoot for the Float Committee. The members of the committee really bonded in the exercise, and had several potlucks and social gatherings during the design and construction phases. Both the open house and the Lodge float received a considerable amount of local publicity in the daily newspaper. And the float itself – featuring a huge red heart and helping arms extending outward to the community, won a prestigious award for the best theme design. All in all a win-win-win scenario for the Lodge and the community.
Lodges have used their imaginations to plan and put on local events that expose Odd Fellowship to the community. When community members are able to visit the Lodge and participate in Lodge activities, the ability of our Order to attract new blood is dramatically enhanced. For the past 50-plus years we have been operating behind closed doors as a secret society. That secrecy has done us a lot of harm. Our membership numbers in California have dropped from over 50,000 to about 4,000. It’s time to open those doors and windows to our communities. The Membership Grant Program is an important way to help our Lodges achieve higher visibility in our communities, and can only help us grow.
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master