Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Here is an article by Past Grand Master Rick Boyles which, essentially, asks the critical question: Who are we?
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master
Will A Goodyear Blimp Help Build Our Order?
When we talk about advertising our order we need to do more than look at the anticipated results: first we need to consider what exactly we are advertising. A past Grand Master several years ago said to me that first we have to look at what we are inviting onlookers to see, more on that momentarily. There are several glaring issues that arise when you consider advertising. First of course, there is the price. Everyone has heard the outlandish prices asked during large television events, numbering in the millions of dollars, and most advertising is based upon repetition; making the common methodology of widespread advertising outside our financial capabilities. Secondly, our order has declined to such a level that wide expanses of our country are not even touched by our members; our Sovereign Grand Master has noted that there are now many states in dire condition. This brings me back to what the Past Grand Master mentioned, put bluntly, that we would be inviting people to an area or areas not healthy within our order. And then an item we rarely, if ever, discuss, is what exactly are we telling these prospective members? That we are about Friendship, Love and Truth? This is our creed and our words to live by, admirable, but certainly not exclusive to our order. You don’t have to be a member of the Odd Fellows to know Friendship, Love and Truth. What we need to decide is what do we do with F., L., & T.? How do we demonstrate this to the world?
That brings us to the next question: who are we? What do we represent? What do we tell a visitor who wants to know about us? What do we do beyond holding a lodge meeting? Many of us appear to do nothing beyond this. That’s okay for us, but what draws the new person in? Ask yourself what made you join? What differentiates us from the outside world? Also, why did our membership decline so severely? These questions must be answered truthfully and completely before we can even imagine widespread advertising.
In various conversations with members, it appears that what we had long ago and have since lost are benefits. Simply put, what is the benefit to being a member? While it may seem greedy to us to think that a person would not join out of an altruistic notion to do good, it rarely if ever happens. Whether we realize it or not, our basic needs must first be met. Almost all of us know our earlier credos – bury the dead, educate the orphan, and I would submit others as well, sustenance for the hungry, security for the insecure, friendship for the lonely. These were common needs for the early settlers, but somehow we have lost our way. Many lodges do nothing for their members, and perhaps not so surprisingly, their memberships are quickly becoming depleted. We have all heard the term maximum density, but I believe that a number of our lodges, and indeed some of our states, have sunk to minimum density – in other words the membership has diminished to such a level that basic traits of a lodge setting such as a dinner, a greeting, or something conducive to gathering new members has fallen to the wayside. Some lodges have gotten so small that the members they still have feel compelled to carry a heavy load just to keep their lodge open. One lodge I visited, barely maintained a simple quorum and the most active member drove over 500 miles monthly just to keep his lodge functioning. This is truly unsustainable.
We need new members, but we won’t get new members by just putting a sign out that says “New Members Wanted” – even the Goodyear Blimp, or the nightly news will not bring them in unless we give a reason for joining. If your lodge needs new members, rather than considering your own point of view, think of prospective members and what he or she needs to make them happy. If there is no benefit cheap enough to give, then perhaps it’s time to post a “for sale” sign out front, because if a beneficial group ceases completely to offer benefits in what way does it remain beneficial? Conversely, if you take a look at the still successful beneficial groups in existence you will note that a benefit of some type is still being given. This is not greed rather it is what a famous author (Aldous Huxley) says makes us “human, all too human”. In order to grow, we need to see the world as a reflection of ourselves and ask ourselves what we may want if we were to consider joining once again.
In Friendship, Love and Truth, Rick Boyles