Three Link Plan Progress – Recruitment and Retention

Lewisburg Lodge No. 96

By Scott Robinson

One of the “Links” of our Lodge’s Three Link Plan to revitalization is exciting and new fellowship activities that will draw new members.

When I joined the Odd Fellows earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of Brothers and Sisters, and to talk with many folks from all over the United States. What I learned is that many Lodges have forgotten how to have fun! You know the old saying, “all work and no play…”? Well, it seems that a lot of Lodges, including ours, had forgotten how to play together, like all the other cool kids on the block.

We gave a simple test at our Lodge. Everyone gets a piece of paper and a pen. You have 5 minutes to write down why you would join your Lodge. Not the organization, and answers like “it has a rich history,” are not permitted. Be honest. Can you name 5 reasons why you would join your Lodge? We couldn’t and it was a painful eye-opener. If you can’t, it’s time for some serious self-examination of your Lodge. If you can’t think of 5 reasons to join, why would a new comer want to join? If you can think of 5 reasons, please share them with other Lodges!

We show up to meetings, handle Lodge business, and go home. The next meeting, we show up, handle Lodge business…and go home. The next meeting…well…you can guess what happens. Sound like a fun organization to be a part of? Do you think we can attract the younger millennial generation that way? Nope. It is a sure-fire recipe to fade into oblivion. Don’t be afraid, grasshopper, we are in good company. I spoke with a local Masonic Lodge that is using the same business formula, and they are fading away too. Change is necessary.

So what do we do to change? It’s simple! Have fun together. Get off your butts and get out and have fun doing social activities together. Even if it is something like a weekend meet-up for ice cream. Get out there! By doing this, you will have many benefits. Members will be energized and motivated. People will see the Odd Fellows out in public! It’s good advertisement and gets us noticed. When folks start having fun together…it spreads like wildfire. People want to be a part of it! Recently, we began scheduling social events. We wore our t-shirts. And, it led to us finding some historical Odd Fellows documents! When folks see an organization that plays together, and does social activities, they want to be a part of it.

What can we do about recruitment? Simple! Open our doors to the public. Hold an open house. Far too often we retreat into the safety and secrecy of our Lodge. The public has no clue who we are, what we do, and that we even still exist. Invite them into our home (Lodge) for a day. When they see our symbolism, the rich history of many of our Lodges, you can bet they will be intrigued! Offer refreshments, hold door prize drawings, and a food drive for the local food bank…and don’t forget to put out the donation jar! Make it an “event”! Advertise! Invite local media. Think of the publicity we could get. Who knows, you may even recruit new members.

Odd Fellows and Rebekahs are some of the most amazing and nicest folks that I have met. We need to let the public see this. Yes, we are a secret organization, but there are many parts that we don’t need to keep secret. Reach out to your community. Hold social and fellowship activities that will attract new members. How about joint socials with a neighboring Lodge? The possibilities here are endless.

We are going to purchase a permanent Lodge for Lewisburg No. 96. Our goal is to make it the hub of community activity. That almost guarantees new members, income, and our survival for future generations. Folks will want to be a part of a Lodge that is active, energetic, and visible! We are determined to be a success story.

There is a Lodge, in another state, that has grown from several members to several hundred, they bring in over $600k/year, and have hired 22 full-time employees to handle their events and the Lodge. How do they do it? Lot’s of social events, including a motorcycle and car club!

It takes work. It takes thinking outside of the box. It takes a Plan. It takes marketing your Lodge. It can be done! I challenge you – re-invent your Lodge and let’s have some success stories to share next year for the GLPA Grand Session!