Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Updated: April 20, 2021

Statistics show that the Odd Fellows are slowly disappearing as an Order.   This trend, however, can be reversed.

First, the statistics.  I have reviewed the Odd Fellows of California Grand Lodge Journals from the turn of the 21st Century to the present.  In reviewing the statistics from 2000 to 2013, we find that in 2000 we had 181 Odd Fellows Lodges in California.  Today, in 2013, we have 126 Odd Fellows Lodges.  That, brothers and sisters, is a loss of 55 Lodges in 13 years, an average of 4 or 5 Lodges lost each year.   Put another way, since 2000, we have lost 30% of our Lodges.

But the situation is more dire than that.   We may have 126 Lodges on the books, but only 7 of these Lodges have 100 or more members.  Of the 126 Lodges, fully 55 Lodges (almost half of all our Lodges) have 20 or fewer members on their books.  In fact, 10 of our Lodges have 10 or fewer members on their books.  If we assume that only about half the members listed on the books of the Lodge actually participate in meetings and Lodge events, we have to also assume that these Lodges – if they meet at all – are experiencing significant quorum problems.   These Lodges are limping along with the illusion of stability.

And we also see tremendous disparities in sizes of our Lodges.  The 10 largest Lodges in California now have more than one-third the total membership of our Order.  That is, one out of every three Odd Fellows in California is a member of just these 10 Lodges.  The trend over the years shows that the 10 largest Lodges will soon have 2 out of every 5 members, and eventually will have half the membership in this Order.   So, the few largest Lodges are growing, while the remaining 116 of our Lodges (over 90%) are (with a few exceptions) generally shrinking.  That is not a happy trend.

In terms of membership numbers over that same period, the Journals show that on January 1, 2000, total Odd Fellows Lodge membership was 6,074.  (These membership numbers are total membership which includes dues paying regular members, associate members and non-contributing members – so they represent the best possible scenario of membership.)  On January 1, 2013, the total membership number was only 4,755.  That’s a decline of 1,315 members in that 2000-2013 time period.  Put another way, we have averaged a decline of over 100 members per year.

If we drill down the membership numbers, year after year, however, we see an ominous trend.  Typically, only a small percentage of our Lodges have a net gain of membership in any given year.  The large majority of our Lodges have a net loss, or at best, stay stagnant.  There are a couple of handfuls of larger Lodges that gain members.  Most of the smaller Lodges lose members.  There are Lodges in California that have not added new members in years, while the existing membership ages, withdraws from membership, or passes away.

And what we see in the Odd Fellows Lodges, we see multiplied in the Rebekah Lodges, and multiplied again in the Branches.   For example, there are less than 200 active members in all the Encampments in California, and less than 100 active members in all the Cantons in California.   The Ladies Encampment Auxiliary and the Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant are in similar straits.

The statistics show that the present course is unsustainable.

But it is not inevitable.

There is a solution to this conundrum.  The solution is obvious and simple:  We need to bring more members into our Odd Fellows Lodges.  If our Lodges are strong, our Branches will be strong, as well.   Grand Lodge has offered incentives to help recruitment of new members.  For example, the Membership Challenge Grant Program provided funds to Lodges for new members.  And the new $1,000 Membership Grant Program supports Lodges that develop membership programs.  But ultimately, membership development is not the task of the Grand Lodge, or even of the Lodges.  Membership development begins at the basic unit of Odd Fellowship:  YOU.

If YOU don’t bring in a new member to your Lodge, you are failing your Lodge and your Order.  It is up to YOU and me and each Odd Fellow to reach out into the community to bring in the new blood our Order needs to reverse the decline.  Too many of our members have become complacent and expect that someone else will bring in new members.  But that “someone else” is actually YOU.  Don’t sit back and depend on the other guy or gal to get the job done.

But ultimately, and honestly, this will not work until YOU work with your Lodge to make the Lodge an interesting place.  New members won’t join (and certainly won’t stay) if all your Lodge does is have boring meetings.  YOU have to work within your Lodge to develop fun good fellowship activities for the members.  And YOU have to work within your Lodge to develop good community projects that not only benefit your community, but also provide worthwhile charitable work that will satisfy your members’ community spirit.

I have called this “The Three-Legged Stool” in the past.  A stool needs three strong legs to work.  If any leg is weak, the stool will eventually topple.  Too many Lodges rely too heavily on just one leg – the rich history and ritual of our Order.  To be sturdy, a Lodge needs to also develop and strengthen the two other legs:  Good fellowship activities within the Lodge for the members, and good community works to benefit the town or area where the Lodge is located.  All three are needed for a strong and growing Lodge.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg, GW

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Updated: April 20, 2021Statistics show that the Odd Fellows are slowly disappearing as an Order.   This trend, however, can be reversed. First, the statistics.  I have reviewed the Odd Fellows of California Grand Lodge Journals from the turn of the 21st Century to the...

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Updated: April 13, 2021We are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of "Dedicated Members for Change" by re-publishing some of the DMC Newsletter articles that have appeared over the last decade.   The articles continue to be relevant.   Today, we...

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Updated: April 5, 2021By Dave Rosenberg Magazines, newspapers and books today are full of all sorts of “self-tests” which gauge your personality, your interests, your love-life, etc., etc. So why not a self-test to gauge your view of your own Odd Fellows Lodge? In...

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Updated: April 13, 2021

We are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of “Dedicated Members for Change” by re-publishing some of the DMC Newsletter articles that have appeared over the last decade.   The articles continue to be relevant.   Today, we present an article that first appeared on August 14, 2013.   Hope you enjoy it.

I have been reading a fascinating book recently, and thought you might be interested in the following excerpt from that work:

The first meeting of the Grand Lodge didn’t take place in a grand building.  It was convened in the back room of a public house.  Taverns were the focal point of social life, where people met to conduct business, eat, drink and sing.

The elaborate symbolism and initiation ceremonies hadn’t been invented yet.  It seems, from the little we know form lodges of that period, that ceremonies were basic and brief, symbols were limited to the lodge panel, and there was no special furniture or physical tools.  Symbols were drawn on a tracing board, or on the floor with chalk and coal, and then erased at the end of the meeting.

Meetings were primarily social events, involving dinner, drinking, and, more important, singing.  The lodges in these early days were not steeped in the ritual and symbolism which developed during the next few centuries.  Men came together for conviviality and social refuge at a time of political and social uncertainty, when new scientific and economic opportunities were being developed, and when rationalism was beginning to lay the foundations for the humanistic and empirical society which we enjoy today.

What is particularly interesting to me about this excerpt, and indeed the entire book, is that it is not about Odd Fellowship.  The book is entitled “Secrets of the Freemasons” published in 2006.  The excerpt above is about the early history of another fraternal order, the Freemasons (or “Masons” as they are often called).   This book reveals that the Freemasons have, just like the Odd Fellows and other fraternal orders, secret signs, grips, passwords, and symbols.  And another thing that is revealed is that the Freemasons, just like the Odd Fellows and other fraternal orders, are rapidly losing membership.

In fact, the decline in membership is not confined to fraternal orders.  Clubs and organizations around California and the United States are experiencing similar declines.  I was just invited to speak to a meeting of the flagship club in the United States – Rotary – and I gave them a list of five potential topics for my talk.   Interestingly (and revealingly) what they wanted to hear from me is how I managed to make my Odd Fellows Lodge grow!  And that’s because even Rotary is facing membership challenges.

I just came back from a visit to an Odd Fellows Lodge that has been around since the mid 1800’s.  But now this Lodge has just 9 members on its books, four of whom live hours away from the Lodge Hall and never attend.  So, this Lodge is limping along with five members (actually four members and one associate member) – a bare quorum when they can get it.  Of their four members, three are in the age range of 85-95.  They haven’t added a new member in years.  And they don’t really do anything except have a meeting (when they have a quorum) and a monthly potluck.  The Lodge doesn’t really do more than this.  Now, frankly, how can that Lodge add new members in that mode?  Who wants to join a Lodge like that?

For Lodges to survive and flourish in the 21st Century, we cannot just rely on the formality of our ritual in opening and closing meetings.   There must be more.  We have to do two things in addition.  First, we have to take a page from our past (and the past of other fraternal orders) and start to have some fun.  Lodges that engage in an active social life keep members and attract new members.  Second, we have to open our doors and windows and reach out to our communities with substantive community projects.  Helping others has been an historical hallmark of Odd Fellowship.  And equally as important, helping others in the community is what keeps members interested and attracts new members to the Lodge.

This is not rocket science.  It just makes sense.  And the proof is shown by the Lodges that follow that pattern.  The Lodges that engage in good fellowship activities and also community service are the Lodges that are growing in this jurisdiction.  Let’s learn from their successes.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Updated: April 20, 2021Statistics show that the Odd Fellows are slowly disappearing as an Order.   This trend, however, can be reversed. First, the statistics.  I have reviewed the Odd Fellows of California Grand Lodge Journals from the turn of the 21st Century to the...

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Updated: April 13, 2021We are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of "Dedicated Members for Change" by re-publishing some of the DMC Newsletter articles that have appeared over the last decade.   The articles continue to be relevant.   Today, we...

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Updated: April 5, 2021By Dave Rosenberg Magazines, newspapers and books today are full of all sorts of “self-tests” which gauge your personality, your interests, your love-life, etc., etc. So why not a self-test to gauge your view of your own Odd Fellows Lodge? In...

More Information about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Updated: April 5, 2021

By Dave Rosenberg

Magazines, newspapers and books today are full of all sorts of “self-tests” which gauge your personality, your interests, your love-life, etc., etc. So why not a self-test to gauge your view of your own Odd Fellows Lodge?

In this regard, I want to ask each of you a question, and I encourage each of you to take just five minutes to answer the question. The question is: Can you state 10 reasons to be a member of your Odd Fellows Lodge? Seems simple enough. But it’s an important question and the answer will tell you a lot about your Lodge – or at least your view and perception of your Lodge. And even more importantly, the view or perception prospective members have of your Lodge.

But before you take this self-test, there are two important parameters (rules, if you will) that need to be established. These parameters are critical to assuring that this is a review of your LODGE, and not a review of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. So, the first parameter is that the “10 reasons” you give must be focused on your LODGE, not on Odd Fellowship. So, for example, for purposes of this test, you can’t give reasons like: “Odd Fellowship has a long and distinguished history” or “the Grand Lodge runs two wonderful retirement communities in Napa and Saratoga”. No, the answers must relate to your own Lodge experience for this test to have meaning. Second, you have to be brutally honest in your answers. This is a self-test. No one else is going to see it or grade it. The test is for YOU. So, for example, if you give the following as reasons “I really enjoy the company of my Lodge brothers and sisters” or “we take care of brothers and sisters who are sick and in distress”, those are really great answers, but please make sure that they are true and honest answers for you.

To show you how this all works, let me give you two examples from hypothetical and fictional Lodges. Let’s call them “Zenith Lodge” and “Nadir Lodge”.

A member of Zenith Lodge has listed the following reasons to be a member of his/her Lodge: We support a local school with donations of backpacks every year, we have a monthly potluck where we invite prospective new members, my Lodge schedules a wine-tasting trip once or twice each year, we plant a tree in the community once each month, my Lodge conducts its own 3-degree ceremony live, when I had an operation my Lodge sent me flowers and helped me with dinners for a week, we have a yearly Halloween party that I really enjoy, we do poker night at the Lodge once each month, my Lodge planned and put on a spaghetti feed to help raise money for our volunteer fire department, we did a community clean-up project, we all went bowling last week and that was fun, my Lodge is going to host a guest speaker on homelessness and open the Lodge to the public on this important topic.

A member of Nadir Lodge has listed the following reasons to be a member of his/her Lodge: We do a monthly potluck before our meetings, I like to see my Lodge brothers and sisters once each month.

Now, if we analyze both of these member’s comments, two things are clear. First, it is impossible to say that the member of one Lodge is happier than the member of the other Lodge. While the member of Zenith Lodge lists far more reasons than does the member of Nadir Lodge, one cannot say that one or the other is less satisfied with his or her Lodge experience. But, second, from the perspective of a potential new member or applicant to those Lodges, it is apparent that a prospective member of Zenith Lodge – particularly a younger member in his/her 20’s, 30’s or 40’s – will find the experience at Zenith Lodge to be much more diverse and appealing than Nadir Lodge. Simply put, if you were interested in possibly joining Odd Fellowship, which of these two Lodges would you rather join?

And one more thing. If you have developed your list of reasons to be a member of your Lodge, and you list 10 or more reasons, I would suggest that not only are you satisfied with your Lodge, but there is a high likelihood that you will be able to successfully recruit members to join (and stay engaged) as members of your Lodge. Alternatively, if you have difficulty listing 10 reasons to be a member of your own Lodge, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the activities of your Lodge. Is your Lodge a place that will attract new members and that will retain existing members? And finally, if you have difficulty listing even 2 or 3 reasons to be a member of your Lodge, I would submit that your Lodge is in serious trouble. If YOU can’t articulate reasons to be a member of your own Lodge, then how in the world will you (or your Lodge mates) encourage new members to join?

So, the bottom line purpose of our little self-test is to test the ability of your Lodge to grow. I hope this self-test has helped you in your own self-evaluation of your Odd Fellow Lodge’s viability to attract the new, young members which are the life-blood of our Order. Remember, it’s all about membership, membership, membership. If we don’t grow our membership, we will continue to shrink as we have done for the past three generations. It’s time – overdue time, in fact – to reverse that trend.

 

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Updated: April 20, 2021Statistics show that the Odd Fellows are slowly disappearing as an Order.   This trend, however, can be reversed. First, the statistics.  I have reviewed the Odd Fellows of California Grand Lodge Journals from the turn of the 21st Century to the...

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Updated: April 13, 2021We are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of "Dedicated Members for Change" by re-publishing some of the DMC Newsletter articles that have appeared over the last decade.   The articles continue to be relevant.   Today, we...

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Updated: April 5, 2021By Dave Rosenberg Magazines, newspapers and books today are full of all sorts of “self-tests” which gauge your personality, your interests, your love-life, etc., etc. So why not a self-test to gauge your view of your own Odd Fellows Lodge? In...

More Information about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

5 Tips To Make Odd Fellows Meetings More Interesting

5 Tips To Make Odd Fellows Meetings More Interesting

Updated: March 29, 2021

​Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

A few days ago I received an e-mail from one of our DMC members who was concerned about losing new members in his Lodge due to “boring” meetings. His question: “How can we make our Lodge meetings more interesting?”

It’s a fair question, and frankly, an important one. The rapid decline in our net membership numbers over the past 65+ years indicates that we are not attracting the new blood into our Order, certainly not in sufficient numbers to offset our membership losses. And if we were brutally honest with ourselves we would realize that the vast majority of men and women in their 20’s and 30’s and 40’s simply don’t want to stay connected to a Lodge where the members just gather once or twice a month for a highly structure ritual meeting, with little else going on. They might join that Lodge, but they won’t stay. And if you don’t believe me, check the statistics.

So, what’s the answer to how we make our Lodge meetings more interesting?

I think the answer for each Lodge is ultimately up to the members of that Lodge, but I can certainly offer some suggestions.

Here are 5 tips to make your Lodge Meetings more interesting

  1. Have more social meetings. There is absolutely no requirement that every single one of your Lodge meetings must be formal, with structured opening and closing, and full regalia. You are permitted to have social meetings. In fact, you are encouraged to have social meetings in your Lodge. Both Grand Lodge and Sovereign Grand Lodge have pushed us to have more social meetings. At a social meeting, of course, we don’t use alarms, passwords, signs and grips, and we don’t open and close formally. You don’t share fraternal secrets. Instead, the Noble Grand runs a much more informal meeting. But there is no restriction to the members talking about and planning for social events, community events and charitable causes. There is no restriction to reviewing the calendar or for Lodge committees to meet and report. In my opinion, Lodge members can even vote on things at these social meetings relating to social and community projects and events, subject to the votes being ratified at a subsequent formal meeting. One of the beauties of the social meeting is that it more casual and comfortable for members, and you can even invite prospective members, applicants and family members to these meetings. It is a great way to expose your Lodge to the community and to generate applications.
  2. Develop your own agenda. Contrary to popular opinion, the formal agenda contained in the charge books is a suggested agenda – not a required agenda. A Lodge should feel free to tailor its agenda to its own special needs. Certainly, there are items on the agenda that should be on every agenda (e.g. Treasurer’s report), but Lodges can tweak agendas as they see fit. For example, in my own Lodge at least half the agenda is dedicated to reports from our committees (we have 20 committees) and we also have time on every agenda for an historical report about the Order (that is one of the tasks we give to the Vice Grand). Plus, feel free to modernize the agenda. For example, I have found most Lodges have the Secretary actually read, word for word, the Minutes of the past meeting. If you find that time-consuming (and boring) you can dispense with that. In my Lodge, for example, all our members are on e-mail and the Secretary e-mails the Minutes out to each member several days before the meeting. There are also hard copies available at the meeting, just in case. The review and approval of Minutes at the meeting takes a very short time.
  3. Have some social time before the meeting. If you want to liven things up, schedule a “social hour” before each evening meeting. The social hour can include dinner, or just snacks, and beverages. Nothing like a little social time to make members happy. Remember, this fraternal order was founded in Merry Olde England as a place for social interaction. In fact, the first meetings of Odd Fellows Lodges took place in pubs. And the founding location of this fraternity in North America was none other than the Seven Stars Tavern.
  4. Develop committees and have them do their own thing. There is no substitute for activities and projects to liven up a Lodge and liven up a meeting. When members are planning social events, or community support events, or charitable projects, they are following the precepts of this Order, and they are having fun doing it. Committees should meet apart from the meetings, so that they plan in an informal and comfortable setting. What committees? Well, let the members decide. They may want to do wine tasting, or go hiking, or help a foster family, or go bowling, or golfing, or plan a Christmas event for the community, or paint a public building, or plan a potluck and movie night, or plant trees in the community – etc., etc. Don’t reject ideas because they are new or different. Give it a try. What do you have to lose?
  5. Think outside the box. Why only have meetings in the evening? How about breakfast meetings? Would a breakfast meeting (breakfast first, followed by the meeting) be of interest to your members? In other words, just because your Lodge has done something the same way for the last 50 years doesn’t mean you have to continue to do it for the next 50.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master – Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Updated: April 20, 2021Statistics show that the Odd Fellows are slowly disappearing as an Order.   This trend, however, can be reversed. First, the statistics.  I have reviewed the Odd Fellows of California Grand Lodge Journals from the turn of the 21st Century to the...

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Updated: April 13, 2021We are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of "Dedicated Members for Change" by re-publishing some of the DMC Newsletter articles that have appeared over the last decade.   The articles continue to be relevant.   Today, we...

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Updated: April 5, 2021By Dave Rosenberg Magazines, newspapers and books today are full of all sorts of “self-tests” which gauge your personality, your interests, your love-life, etc., etc. So why not a self-test to gauge your view of your own Odd Fellows Lodge? In...

Celebrate diversity in the Odd Fellows

Celebrate diversity in the Odd Fellows

Updated: March 22, 2021

Following is an article I wrote for the DMC Newsletter of July 29, 2013. We are re-publishing articles written over the past decade, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the founding of “Dedicated Members for Change.” Even though the article is eight years old, it continues to be relevant today. Hope you enjoy it.

Last week a young man came to see me inquiring about Odd Fellowship and the possibility of joining our Order. He is a fine young man, a lawyer happily married with three young children. He had done his research on-line, and had some knowledge of the Order. Subsequently, he and his wife and children came to my Lodge to visit, and I gave him a nice tour, and answered a lot of questions that he had. He (and his wife) may very well submit applications to join in the future.

What I found interesting, however, is the young man’s initial comments to me. He said, “When I first thought about Odd Fellows, I thought of a bunch of old guys sitting around in a darkened room.”

To be very frank, that image really took me aback. But then as I thought about it, this young man was expressing the view of Odd Fellowship by his generation. And let’s dissect the view: (1) “a bunch of old guys”, (2) “sitting around”, (3) “in a darkened room”. How did we come to this place in our long and distinguished history as a fraternity? More importantly, how do we disabuse his generation of this notion?

Easier said than done, if we are frank with ourselves. Because there are many (perhaps most) of our Lodges which precisely fit the young man’s view.

And that’s a shame. Now, that’s not meant to be a slight against “old guys” because there is nothing wrong with “old guys”, per se. But why not also include “young guys” and “old gals” and “young gals” as well. And why should the Lodge members be “sitting around” (e.g. really not doing much of anything) in “a darkened room” (e.g. shut away from the outside world) no less. The Lodge members need to open the windows and doors of their Lodges and get involved in their communities.

I will submit the following proposition to you: Lodges that are diverse – with men and women, ethnic groups of all kinds, different ages, professions, etc. – are the Lodges that will thrive in the future. We need to celebrate and foster our diversity, not stifle it.

We need to celebrate our “Odd-ness” in our chosen fraternity. After all, when this Order first formed in Merry Olde England, it was an amalgam of professions. It wasn’t an elitist group. The early Lodges were composed of actors, carpenters, butchers, shop-keepers, ship-builders, and an assortment of trades. Heck, even the famous Thomas Wildey was known as a maker of coach springs.

As an Order let’s have some fun with the fact that we are known as Odd Fellows. Let’s celebrate our Lodge’s 151st anniversaries, rather than the 150th. Let’s organize Oddtoberfests, rather than Oktoberfests. Let’s go on Odd hikes, and Odd bowling evenings, and Odd dinners at the Lodge. Let’s not be so stuffy and full of our own importance that we can’t have a good time in our Lodges with our Lodge brothers and sisters.

And let’s work on erasing that image of “a bunch of old guys sitting around a darkened room.” Let’s replace it with the image of a diverse fraternity where the members know how to have a good time and know how to be involved locally to improve their communities.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Updated: April 20, 2021Statistics show that the Odd Fellows are slowly disappearing as an Order.   This trend, however, can be reversed. First, the statistics.  I have reviewed the Odd Fellows of California Grand Lodge Journals from the turn of the 21st Century to the...

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Updated: April 13, 2021We are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of "Dedicated Members for Change" by re-publishing some of the DMC Newsletter articles that have appeared over the last decade.   The articles continue to be relevant.   Today, we...

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Updated: April 5, 2021By Dave Rosenberg Magazines, newspapers and books today are full of all sorts of “self-tests” which gauge your personality, your interests, your love-life, etc., etc. So why not a self-test to gauge your view of your own Odd Fellows Lodge? In...

The Battle to Recruit New Odd Fellows

The Battle to Recruit New Odd Fellows

Updated: March 10, 2021

In recognition of a full decade of DMC Newsletter articles, we are taking some time to re-publish some of the articles which appeared in the DMC Newsletter over the past 10 years.   Today’s Odd Fellow DMC article was first shared on July 4, 2013.   It’s still relevant today in 2021.

​First, let me wish each of you a happy and safe Fourth of July. As a person who served in the Armed Forces, I love this holiday, for all that it represents to our democracy and way of life. Plus it’s one of only two holidays (the other being Cinco de Mayo) where I can always remember the date. :-)

Turning our attention to the seminal subject of the Odd Fellows and the DMC – membership – I have often said that growing membership in this Order is a task for each of us. Sovereign Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge can talk about it, they can develop programs to foster it, they can provide money to fund it, but ultimately, the task of membership development is a job for you and for me. Wars and battles are not won by Generals and Colonels. Rather, they are won by soldiers. And as soldiers in the battle to recruit and retain members in our Lodges, we can’t just depend on “the other guy or gal” to do it. Each of us has to do our part in recruiting and retaining members.

The job of recruitment, in particular, requires two key ingredients:

First, you have to be constantly aware of the opportunity to recruit a potential new member. Let me give you an example. The other day I was at the barbershop and I got to chatting with the very nice young woman (who, by the way, was a member of an ethnic minority group) who was giving me a haircut. We were talking as is often the case at a barbershop or hairdresser, and I started telling her about my Davis Odd Fellows Lodge. I often make take the opportunity to talk about the Order and my Lodge, to people that I meet. We discussed the history and goals of the Order, the social activities at my Lodge and the many community works in which we are engaged. She was very interested and said that she was looking to be involved in just such an organization. I obtained her e-mail address and we have been corresponding ever since about her submission of an application and the process to become a member. Bottom line, each of us has to be aware of the potential for membership when we interact with others, and in particular, we should actively recruit women and minorities into this Order. Recently, I visited a Lodge where the membership was composed entirely of white men. Why should we exclude – by design or otherwise – women and ethnic minorities in our communities? By doing so, we ignore most of our population. That makes no sense, at any level.

Second, however, my conversations with this young woman would have been pointless if my Odd Fellows Lodge had little to offer her. Let me tell you what I mean. I have visited Lodges where their meetings take 20 minutes and all they do is open the meeting, read the minutes and correspondence, pay a few bills, talk about members sick or in distress, do good of the order, and close the meeting. The don’t have committee reports or new business. They essentially just have a meeting each month, and a potluck. A Lodge such as this would have almost nothing which would interest a man or women in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s certainly nothing that would appeal to my barber. But I was able to talk to the young barber about several community and charitable events my Lodge was planning and implementing (like helping frail seniors in their homes, supporting foster children who need clothes for school, working with mentally ill adults, providing volunteers for the food bank, and many more) and I was able to chat with her about social events we were planning and implementing (like our weekly social “club night” at the Lodge where we serve dinner and have some social time with our members and pledges, our OddtoberFest, a Halloween party, Odd Hikes we are planning, our wine club, and many more). Lodges that begin to get active in their communities and provide a social network for members provide a much more fertile environment for potential new members.

The proof? My Lodge has so many applicants that we actually have to put them on waiting lists, and the process to become a member of my Lodge takes a minimum of 6 months.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Are the Odd Fellows Disappearing? How to reverse the trend.

Updated: April 20, 2021Statistics show that the Odd Fellows are slowly disappearing as an Order.   This trend, however, can be reversed. First, the statistics.  I have reviewed the Odd Fellows of California Grand Lodge Journals from the turn of the 21st Century to the...

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Good fellowship benefits the Odd Fellows

Updated: April 13, 2021We are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of "Dedicated Members for Change" by re-publishing some of the DMC Newsletter articles that have appeared over the last decade.   The articles continue to be relevant.   Today, we...

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Take a Moment for this Odd Fellows Self-Test

Updated: April 5, 2021By Dave Rosenberg Magazines, newspapers and books today are full of all sorts of “self-tests” which gauge your personality, your interests, your love-life, etc., etc. So why not a self-test to gauge your view of your own Odd Fellows Lodge? In...

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