Over the past few months a fascinating phenomenon has occurred at my Odd Fellows Lodge in Davis, California. We have a very active and interactive website. Since January, my Lodge has received seven inquiries through that website asking how to join our Odd Fellows Lodge. In other words, we’re not out there beating the bushes for new members. Potential new members are coming to us. I imagine that this is the way it was in the mid-1800’s (without the Internet, of course) when fraternal orders were in their hey-day and members of the community sought out the Lodge to become members.
How is this happening in 2023?
It doesn’t happen if the Lodge operates in silence. No one seeks to join a Lodge, of course, if they don’t even know the Lodge exists. Lodges that stay within their four walls and do not reach out into their communities will surely fade away in time. On the other hand, Lodges that are involved and active in their communities expose themselves to the community, and have hope for the future. But be aware that the Lodge has to publicize its community events. If the Lodge gives out scholarships to students, the community needs to know. If the Lodge contributes funds to a community organization helping the hungry, the community needs to know. If the Lodge hosts a musical event to raise awareness of the needs of foster kids, the community needs to know.
And I’m not talking about newspaper stories. Newspaper press releases are great and they certainly reach a corner of the community. But for those members of the community who are under 50 years of age, a significant percentage don’t even ready newsprint. They are on the Internet, and they absorb Facebook and other social media. If a Lodge focuses its publicity only on newspapers, the Lodge is essentially short-changing its impact and outreach to those who are in their 40’s, 30’s, and 20’s.
An active presence on social media, and an easy-to-navigate website are critical tools in the effort to reach out to folks in the 21st Century.
Believe me, it works. Being an active Lodge in the community is a major component of successful membership development. The other major component is letting the community know about it.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.)
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