In various versions and forms, the Number One question I am asked about membership development is the following:   How do I go about asking people to join my Lodge?  That is, of course, a seminal question.   And it deserves an answer.    So for all those members who are unsure how to break the ice and make “the ask”, here is a brief tutorial:

1.  Who should I ask?   Almost everyone over the age of 16 is, in theory, a potential member.   In the universe of potential members, make sure to include everyone you believe is a person of good moral character.   Potential members can include members of your own family – your spouse, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc.   Of course, your friends are a ready and easy group of folks to ask.   And don’t forget the people who work with you in your business or profession.  A large, but more challenging group are the folks with whom you have a more casual relationship such as people you have just met in church, at the senior center, at a sporting event, at a coffee shop, or riding to work on public transportation.    Some Lodges have no members who are female.   That not only flies in the face of our fraternal non-discrimination policies, but is quite short-sighted.   Why exclude half our population from potential membership?  So, if you ask “the husband” about joining your Lodge, find out if “the wife” is also interested.   You get the idea.

A relatively new member of my Davis Lodge – Nan Klein – joined in April of 2021, and she has already brought in 4 members and 3 applicants.   All she did was chat with her friends.

2.  How do I broach the subject?  To be brutally frank, probably the BEST way to broach the subject of membership is to chat with folks you meet during a Lodge event for the community.   My Lodge puts on dozens of community events every year including music venues, bingo for the community, breakfast with Santa, classic film festival, and more.   My Lodge has two meetings every month; one of our monthly Lodge meetings is always a social meeting where we serve a complementary breakfast, open to the public – a great opportunity to invite potential members.   Let me give you an example of the effectiveness of this technique.   Just last week, my Lodge sponsored our weekly “Club Night at the Lodge” (dinner and drinks, music and trivia), followed by our monthly Thursday Live! (free music for the community).  One of our members who is in her 30’s invited eight of her friends to both events.   They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and many Lodge members interacted with them.   At the end of the evening, four of them had submitted applications to join the Davis Lodge – and all four of them are in their 30’s.

Of course, this only works if your Lodge actually HAS events open to the public.   If your Lodge has no such events, then I suggest you talk about that at your next Lodge meting, and go about developing at least one this year.   And then, next year, go about developing another.    It will pay dividends in membership development.

But until the time your Lodge develops community events, a good ice breaker is to talk about the history of your Lodge in the community, or the history of Odd Fellowship in general.

3.  Am I done after I have talked to the potential member?  If you wind up sponsoring the new potential member, don’t think you are done with the process.   You should stay engaged and make sure to show the applicant around, introduce him/her to members, answer their questions about the Lodge and about the fraternity.   In my Davis Lodge we have a robust method of dealing with potential new members (we call them “Pledges”) from the time of application to initiation.   We don’t make it easy.   We want the Pledges to learn about us before they take the plunge into initiation, and we want them to really engage and remain active members after initiation.    So, we have developed a five step process enabling them to learn about us and to meet members of the Lodge.   It works.   Today, we have 36 Pledges divided into a Spring group, a Summer group and a Fall group.

I can assure you that these techniques work in the real world.    My Lodge currently has 358 members and 36 applicants for membership.   This status didn’t happen overnight.   It was developed over a number of years.   But as the ancient saying goes:  “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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