I have been publishing this DMC Newsletter since 2010 – the goal being to give Independent Order of Odd Fellows members and Lodges ideas to sustain and increase membership. In this regard I receive emails on a fairly regular basis from Lodge members throughout North America and other countries, asking what can be done to bring in new members and to retain existing members in our Odd Fellows Lodges. Of course, as society and as generations change, this is a multi-faceted and complex question – and there is no one silver bullet. Obviously, the Lodge has to be place where friendship, love, and truth is not only mouthed, but practiced, in all things. Just as obviously, the Lodge must be a welcoming place – clean, in repair, updated, and comfortable. Attention to our rules and rituals is fundamental – it is, ultimately, what makes us Odd Fellows (rather than Masons, Elks, Eagles or Moose).
But I think that just as important is the desire to have fun. If we just sit around reading words from books, we would probably derive more benefit in a church, temple or mosque. The social aspects of a Lodge are as important as anything we do. After all, if we’re not having a good time in the Lodge, why do it? And I guarantee you that the younger generation members that Lodges covet are not going to join (or continue to stay in) a boring Lodge. They want to enjoy the fraternal experience. And they should. When Odd Fellowship was founded, one of the first things members did was meet in pubs for meals, drink, conversation, and good social times. It worked then. Why should it be any different now?
So how do Lodges emphasize the fun? Well, you can let your imagination run free. It could be sponsoring game night at the Lodge, or a poker tournament, music at the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, hiking, movie night, visits to other Lodges, wine tasting trips, potlucks, etc.
When Lodge leaders and members ask for suggestions, I often say, “have fun with our Oddness”. This can be done in many ways.
For example, start your meetings at 7:31 p.m. rather than 7:30 p.m. Start your breakfast at 8:01 a.m., rather than 8:00 a.m. Schedule an event at 6:29 p.m. rather than 6:30 p.m.
Think about events that might be “odd”. Instead of an OktoberFest, how about an OddtoberFest? How about showing some movies at the Lodge with titles like “The Odd Couple” or “Odd Thomas” or “Against All Odds.” If you wish to create a newsletter for the Lodge, how about giving it an “odd” name like “Odds & Ends” or “Odd News” or “The Odd Newsletter.” If you create a webpage or an email link to help members, don’t just call it “The Bulletin Board” – instead how about naming it the “Odd Bulletin Board.”
Have some fun with “oddness”.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
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