A Brother sent me a Facebook Message the other night. I wanted to share my reply and give our Conductor a chance to chime in as well!
In F L & T
Hi! While I can’t guarantee it will work for everyone or every lodge situation… this is what I have witnessed from successful Lodges and my own personal lodge experience. Also, of the things listed below, so much of it depends on determining the culture of your lodge and what kind of members you are aiming to attract. I wrote a post about that you can check out on the blog. I am sure a lot of these are obvious and you probably already know all this too… but here goes.
1) Have fun lodge socials and have members bring their friends. That way prospective members get a sense of who everyone is and so it’s not scary to be the new guy. If you all are into fancy beer, go to a brewery and do a tasting, or a video game night. Or do something one of the members is passionate about that they can share with the group. Or have a lodge cleanup day. It’s a great bonding experience that gives the group a sense of ownership.
2) Host clever events/fundraisers. Don’t to the same thing another group in your area does. Come up with something that also fits the vibe of your group. For example: since we are known as the artsy lodge we do things that reflect that. Every time we hold an event we pick up new members that want to be in on the action. Events are a lot of work but the pay off is threefold. It can raise money for a cause, it is something positive for the community, and it raises awareness for the Order. It is like free advertising. It may take a few tries to get something off the ground but every time you do put an event together it gets easier as you learn what not to do next time.
3) This one is for you personally…. Be the match that ignites the fire in your lodge members. All it takes is one person to inspire others to get excited about Odd Fellowship.
4) Ask all your friends. Especially the ones that seem alone/lonely/introverted . They are the ones that need this the most. It is amazing to see how people blossom when they feel like they are included and a part of something special.
And if you would like to write anything for the blog we would love to post it. The more experiences and voices and opinions we have to share then it will be like the bundle of sticks…
Scott (The Conductor):
I agree with everything that Ainslie said.
I think getting people interested is being brave enough to ask them to join. If they ask a question about Odd Fellows just freaking ask them to join, or give them your Odd Fellows “business” card with your personal information. Be sure the card has some cool emblems on it and your lodge website address. (EVERY Grand Lodge and lodge should have a website or Facebook page by now. If not, they’re failing the Order and their community. No excuses. Many of us are tired of excuses.)
I also like the three legged stool approach championed by the Dedicated Members for Change. It’s basically this: 1. Use our Order’s past as a strength in conversation and promotion with others. 2. Reconnect with our communities and stop hiding behind closed doors. Go out and do good works for people and use that to promote the Order. 3. Spend time with each other just as a college fraternity might do. Go to movies, bowling, meet for a beer, ghost hunting, etc. Put together lots of committees so people can meet and hang out. And when you’re hanging out with each other reserve tables for “Odd Fellows,” ask if you can put a sandwich sign with emblems in front of the pub that says “Odd Fellows hanging out tonight at 7 p.m.” Put a sign on your table. This is local promotion within a person’s sphere of influence.
I also think that lodges should set yearly goals of the numbers of new members they wish to bring in. If a lodge doesn’t have a goal, it’ll never meet one. SGL should require EVERY Grand Lodge to set yearly goals for new member recruitment and establishing new lodges. And don’t fall for that “we want a few good members instead of a lot of mediocre members,” or “we want quality instead of quantity,” argument. You can’t get quality if you don’t have the quantity to pull from.
One problem I’m never sure how to deal with is resistance from other lodge members or Grand Lodges in regard to growth, new memberships, starting a new lodge, or doing community work. One of the best ways they resist is to give you the “OK” to do your project and then don’t help. Or, they’ll keep putting off making a decision until you finally give up. If anyone has suggestions to deal with this, I’m open to it.