Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
I’m pleased to share with you an article written by Dave Reed, who is a member of my own Lodge, Davis #169. Dave has served two terms as Noble Grand of the Davis Lodge, has served as Grand Conductor for Past Grand Master Rod Metoyer, and currently serves as the District Deputy Grand Master for District #3. Several weeks ago he wrote an article in this newsletter under the title of “So What Do We Do Next? (Part One)”. We’ve all been awaiting “Part Two” – and now, without further ado, here it is . . . .
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master
So What Do We Do Next? (Part Two)
A couple of months ago, I shared some thoughts about what lodges can do to improve. Step One included looking at where is your lodge now? Step Two is where would you like your lodge to be and getting there?
So how can we get from Step One to Step Two?
What Are Your Goals? I wonder how many lodges set goals for themselves. Understandably, it can be a challenge to run a lodge, especially if you haven’t done it before or if there are not many other members to share the load. Until your lodge sets goals for what you want to accomplish, you limit getting there or anywhere. Think of a ship without a rudder. Consider having your new officers create a list of goals at the beginning of each year. At the end of the year, review that list to see how many goals you have accomplished. Then, discuss what can you try different to accomplish your goals for the next year or adjust your goals.
For example, if you have a goal to get existing members to attend meetings, you need to find out why members don’t attend. What are you doing at meetings that your members want to be a part of? Or that they don’t want to be part of? What can you add to your meetings to encourage members to attend? Consider a social hour where refreshments are served before your meetings.
Some of the lodges I have visited do not seem to be doing much outside of the meetings. Ideally, we have activities that our members will want to attend. Ask your members what types of new or different things they would like the lodge to do. If someone suggests a new or different type of event, invite them to plan the event. If the event is successful, you have added something to do again in the future. If the event is not successful, try something else in the future. There are many types of events that could interest your members. Encourage members to bring guests to these events. Guests are prospective new members.
Here are a few ideas for types of events:
Host a music event with local musicians. Almost every community has talented musicians looking for an opportunity to perform and will do it for free (you can pass the hat for donations to share with them if you wish).Â Invite the public to attend by posting notices around town or submitting press releases to your local newspaper.
Host a dinner prepared by members for members and guests. My lodge has an annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner and Pub Quiz with prizes and an Oddtoberfest Dinner.
Show movies at your lodge for members and guests. Invite the public too. You can sell refreshments to cover any overhead.
Go Christmas caroling at a senior citizen facility or convalescent hospital. It is extremely rewarding for both the carolers and the folks you sing for.
If your goals include bringing in new members, you need to give you them a reason to join. They need to feel welcome. Discourage your members from bickering! Trust me, prospective members will not be impressed. Further, unsocial interactions do not promote our goals of Friendship, Love and Truth.
Giving to the community is a great goal. I have seen many lodges contribute money to local charities. That’s good. But remember, you don’t have to be an Odd Fellow to donate to charities.
If the donation is the product of money raised by the lodge in a fundraiser, it has much greater meaning to the lodge members. Also, it is more impressive to the recipient too.
Some lodges have annual fundraisers that raise money for their annual budget and donations. One lodge has an annual golf tournament where they get sponsors and donations followed by a banquet and raffle. They raise several thousand dollars each year. Another rural lodge has a Sportsman Night Dinner and Gun Auction (probably not a good idea if you live in a larger urban area). Again, they raise thousands of dollars each year.
Helping local charities directly is good for both the charity and your members. Members of my lodge volunteer at the local Food Bank every month in the name of the Odd Fellows. We have planted trees in our community teaming with a local program.
Help a local charity with a fund raiser. Offer the use of your lodge for their fundraiser. Or offer volunteers to work at their fundraiser. Or partner with a local charity to put on an event and donate the proceeds to them. Offer to fix the meal for them, whether it be spaghetti or tri-tip or oatmeal. There are many variations of this theme and more than one way to do it.
Reach out to senior citizens. Set up a committee to offer to do yard work or minor maintenance for seniors. It can be a one-time event or an ongoing program or something in between. All it takes is a member’s time. You will find the seniors to be extremely grateful.
These types of events get your members involved. Don’t be afraid to gently pressure your members to step up and participate. It’s all for the greater good. Members want to do good things for their community. After all, our Valediction includes a challenge to give our best work to our community.
If your lodge has not done events like this, talk to other lodges to see what they have done and how they did it. Recently, I held a meeting of Noble Grands in District 3 and we talked about what our lodges do. Every lodge is different. Every lodge is a reflection of their members and their community.
In addition to getting our members involved, these types of events give the Order exposure. How many of us have told people we are Odd Fellows and they have no idea who we are. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
If we help others in our community, they will find out who we are and what we do. When we do good things in our community, don’t be afraid to send out press releases to your local newspaper to let them know what we are doing or what we have done. Don’t be afraid to write letters to the editor describing events we have done to help our community and thanking those who helped.
Another result of helping others in our community is some of those folks may want to join your lodge. My lodge has gained a number of members in this way. People want to be a part something that is good.
There is no one set formula for every lodge. Likewise, there is really no limit to what you can do. But do something! And do something your lodge members want to do. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
Don’t Forget Our History. In the past few years, I have visited a number of lodges as Grand Conductor and as District Deputy Grand Master. I have heard longtime Odd Fellows complain that we are losing our heritage. That newer lodges and new members don’t know or appreciate our history.
However, it is interesting that not one single lodge I have visited has included any discussion of our history in the meetings that I have attended. I am talking about something more than reading the Ritual Opening and Ritual Closing.
Every now and then, my lodge has vignettes describing our history. Perhaps, we need to try a little harder to remind our members of the past. Perhaps, we should take two or three minutes at every meeting to remind our members of things like our symbols and what they mean or other history. The Vice Grand is the perfect person to do this.
These types of things partly define who we are and why we are what we are. There is really no limit as what can do. The only limit is what we are willing to do. The comic character Pogo once said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Think about it. We are the solution, too.