Here’s a blast from the past. It was just over ten years ago (on June 2, 2013) that I wrote and published the following newsletter. It was during Rick Boyles’ year as Grand Master of California and it is a cautionary tale. While the column was written with a focus on the jurisdiction of California, I am confident it is applicable to virtually every other Jurisdiction in North America.

The bitter irony is that the column was all about our Order in California shrinking to 126 Lodges and 4,400 members in 2013, while today in 2024 we have shrunk even further to 110 Lodges and approximately 4,000 members.

F – L – T

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


Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

In 2013, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in California have become an Order of many small Lodges with a couple of handfuls of larger Lodges thrown in the mix. It’s certainly not like it used to be. There was a time in the 1920’s and 1930’s when close to 60,000 Californians were Odd Fellows, there were 400 or 500 Lodges in every corner of the State, and some of our Lodge had memberships over 500.

Today, the Odd Fellows of California have shrunk to 126 Lodges with a total dues-paying membership of about 4,400, statewide.

But when you drill down into the statistics, the picture becomes even bleaker. Here are some stats that should give us all pause. As noted, we have 126 Lodges on the books. Of those, fully 87 have 30 or fewer members. Certainly, we have become an Order of small Lodges because as I have noted many times, we all know that only about half of the members of any Lodge are “active”, so a Lodge with, say, 28 members, really means a Lodge with 14 active members – barely enough to even assume all the elected and appointed officer positions.

And let’s drill down even further. Of our 126 Lodges, we have 56 Lodges (almost half) where the membership on the books is 20 or less. And a further drill shows that 11 of our Lodges have 10 members or less on their books. How can those Lodges function, find a quorum, meet, have activities and bring in new members? That will be our challenge going forward.

One more statistic: Of our 126 Lodges, 53 actually had a net LOSS in members for 2012. A Lodge with just 20 members, or 15 members, cannot afford net losses for very long. Also of interest, 34 Lodges were static – that is, their membership remained the same for the year. Only 39 Lodges showed a net gain of members. And even the “net gain” number may be deceiving. Of the 39 showing a net gain, 16 had a net gain of just 1 or 2 members. And only 9 Lodges showed net gains in the double digits (10 or more).

Where once we had dozens and dozens of Lodges in California with 100 or more members (in fact, we used to have many Lodges with 500+ members) we now have only 7 Lodges showing membership rolls of 100 or more.

Indeed, we are now an Order of many small Lodges with a couple of handfuls of larger Lodges in the mix.

Our focus, going forward, must be membership, membership, membership. We will need to pursue methods to help each other bring in new members. And that is what we will do. But ultimately, while Grand Lodge can help, the effort to bring in new members must start and finish with YOU and ME. Each of us, working with our Lodges, must be the prime movers in bringing new members into our Order. But that effort will ultimately fail unless and until our LODGES offer those new members a reason to join, and a reason to stay. In that regard, our Lodges must be involved and active in their communities – doing good public works. And our Lodges must provide an active and fun social network for members – good fellowship activities within the Lodge. When those things happen, Lodges will grow, and the growth can be sustained.

F – L – T

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

What Shall We Talk About?

What Shall We Talk About?

Dear Dedicated Members for Change, Frequent contributor to these DMC Newsletters is Past Grand Master Rick Boyles. Rick is a very insightful Odd Fellow. I think you will find Brother Rick's current submission to be particularly astute regarding the human condition,...

We Want New Members

We Want New Members

My Odd Fellows Lodge in Davis, CA currently has 29 applicants for membership - that number is larger than the entire membership of many of our Lodges throughout North America. How can there be such a dramatic juxtaposition in membership numbers between Lodges? I think...

Good Fellowship Reception 2024

Good Fellowship Reception 2024

Dear Dedicated Members for Change, Our Dedicated Members for Change (DMC) email matrix includes hundreds of members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in virtually every state of the USA and every province of Canada, along with many members from countries around...

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This