Some of our staff at Heart In Hand have compiled a list of things we’d like to see Sovereign Grand Lodge discuss. Some of these ideas may already be under discussion and we may not be aware of it.
- Collect data, and use it to develop specific and measurable plans to grow membership.
- Encourage the SGM to network with and establish a working relationship with other national organizations (For example: Save The Children, Doctors Without Borders, World Wildlife Fund) on behalf of the Order. The GM’s should work on the state level with similar statewide organizations. The SGM and GM’s need to focus less on
traveling to lodges, more on building relationships and networking with national or statewide organizations using email, Facebook, Skype, etc. It’s an easy way to spread the word to important people we’re still a viable organization.
- Develop a plan with financial support to encourage Grand Lodges to have fully functional websites. Provide Grand Lodges with current prices and general cost of the development and maintenance to take the guess-work out of website pricing. GL’s must have someone local do their web development in order to foster contacts in the local tech community.
- Explore other options for SGL giving. Are we giving to charities that spend the MOST money on those they are helping? Or, is most of the money going to administrative costs in these organizations?
- KEEP the belief in a supreme being as a compromise. Remove prayer in lodges. We are non sectarian (which means not involving or relating to a specific religious sect or political group), yet we have only Christian based prayer. If we want to keep the peace, and increase recruitment, we must move beyond promoting prayer in lodges. Creating a “church atmosphere” during lodge in today’s United States opens us up to fraternal conflict, loss of membership, accusations of being a cult, and trouble recruiting people who prefer to worship in their churches or privately rather than in a lodge. Again: we are non sectarian, this is not a religious organization. The position of Chaplain was added in the mid-late 19th century, 100 years after the Order was formed. The move away from being more secular in IOOF began when the upper middle class began to join IOOF rather than Masonry during the Anti-Masonry movement in the 19th century. The upper middle class decided to move IOOF from its “college frat party” reputation to one more respectable (whatever that means), and used religion to do it. It’s one reason there were so many 19th century IOOF books written by ministers. While our degree work is from Bible stories, they are brilliantly written in a way so no one is asked to praise the being, or ask the being for blessings or to watch over someone–all things that people today interpret in various ways.
- Redefine the Chaplain’s role. If number 5 above happens, allow the Chaplain position to remain. Allow the Chaplain to read non sectarian encouraging and positive messages to members. Also, let the Chaplain be someone who members can contact when they need counseling assistance as well as heading up visiting those who may be depressed or ill.
- Arrange and finance at least one book/ebook about modern Odd Fellowship to be written and published. Maybe even a “dummies guide,” or something similar.
- Bring back some of the older symbolism of the Order. Suggestions: Sun, Moon, Pole Star, Horn of Plenty, Aaron’s rod, or the Celestial Globe. Consider updating the teachings that fit these emblems. Our emblems are a sort of advertisement for the Order. The mystery of our emblems is one of our biggest attractions for new members. Let’s not waste them.
- Develop relationships with merchandise companies to produce more goods for members to wear inside and outside the Lodge. Members would like a source for new traditional collar regalia, T-shirts, car emblems, ties, pins, rings (silver and gold)… nicer options than the current limited offerings in the catalog. Make a catalog available for all members.
- In the 1700’s, Odd Fellowship had a very clear “mission statement.” We need a mission statement in the form of the four commandments that ties us to the old days but is also suitable for the 21st Century. Unfortunately, helping widows and orphans is not a strong recruitment phrase (although we should help them every chance we get). “Friendship, Love, and Truth” is not a good recruitment phrase. It’s almost like saying “IOOF: We Do Stuff.” It’s OK to consider updating our statement every 5 or so years.
- Dedication to diversity. We have been coed for nearly 20 years yet not many states have had female GMs and no females have been on the SGL level. Ensure that all lodges and grand lodges are following our new anti-discrimination policy. Zero tolerance for those that do not. Resolution No. 5 states ” The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability, age [other than that of minimum to join the Order (lodge, club or group)], ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or other social identity.
- Recognize GUOOF as a sibling as we do with the MU as a parent. This includes inter-fraternal passwords and signs.
- We have a great focus of programs for youth and seniors. We lack programs for helping young adults up to retirement age.
- Create an active young leaders mentoring program to train the leadership of tomorrow. Current leadership is composed of senior citizens who have held positions for years and are the only ones who know how to do the offices.
- Trade mark the name Odd Fellows or Independent Order of Odd Fellows to prevent future businesses or other organizations from using our name and logo.
- Bring back the use of recognition signs and phrases.
- Continue the revision of degree work. Each degree should have enough different versions to fit small, medium, and large lodges. Get rid of the DVDs.
- Bring back the collars and aprons for IOOF. Thankfully, GUOOF still uses them.
- Consider pushing the idea of the Order as “authentic self-improvement.” We’ve always been about “self-improvement,” but we never use those or similar words.
- Update our logo. The three links alone are not inspiring and they are usually arranged in the shape of a droopy frown. Try adding another emblem to the links to create a new logo. For example: the links and eye, the links and skull, the links and sticks. Remember, our emblems are a form of advertising. Arrange the links in a more inviting shape.
- Should SGM’s serve more than one year? Probably.
Some may ask: “Why bring back older emblems, aprons and collars, recognition signs, and get rid of the DVDs? Aren’t those out of style?” From what we’re seeing, these are things that newer generations are interested in. The old stuff. Even though we are surrounded with technology, many people are looking back at times they describe as being “more authentic,” or closer to reality than modern technology can offer.Heirloom gardening, the resurgence in folk music, beard styles of the Gilded Age, Renaissance Faires, Maker Faires, Every Day Carry, rock climbing, hiking, etc…people want their technology, but they want to mix it with things that help keep them grounded.
Odd Fellowship is a nearly 300 year old organization. Is that authentic enough?