DMC – More on Millenials

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

The gist of last week’s DMC newsletter, this week’s newsletter, and next week’s newsletter is an examination of the unique qualities of the Millennial generation and how those qualities compare to prior generations. The point is to understand the nuances of this new generation of men and women – because they are, ultimately, the future of our Order, and of your Lodge. If you wish to increase the membership of your Lodge, and continue your Lodge into the future, you really need to understand these young men and women.

Think I’m joking? Well, chew on this statistic for a moment: Recent estimates have found the Millennial generation numbers 66 million persons in the United States today. Fortune Magazine has predicted that by 2025 (a mere six years from today) Millennials will comprise 75% of the American workforce.

Look, Millennials are not aliens from another planet. In a great many ways, Millennials are just like the generations that currently make up the vast majority of membership in our Lodges (folks in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s). We all want a good life, a life of meaning, and a life of happiness. Yet, there are vast differences in the aspirations and goals of Millennials as we compare them to the aspirations and goals of the prior generations. A recent study found the following traits among the members of the Millennial generation:

1. Millennials face remarkable pressure in society and in the workplace. The traditional American Dream of owning a home seems a long way off to the members of this generation. At work, they have to cope with longer work hours, corporate downsizing, lack of job security, work overload, global competition, and job ambiguity. These pressures naturally create anxiety and even depression among many members of this generation.

2. Millenials often feel disconnected and powerless in society today. They take a more passive role in life, and want to be pushed and encouraged by their families, bosses and mentors. They appreciate continual feedback.

3. Rather than conforming to societal norms, Millennials prefer to disrupt the status quo. It doesn’t matter to them that things have always been done a certain way. They prefer to try new ways to reach their goals.

4. Millennials care more about the planet and people, and less about profits. They strive for intellectual challenges, and want to make the world a better place, both locally and globally.

5. They have access to a huge amount of information, and greater technology which is second nature to them. They dislike slowness and desire instant feedback.

So, how do we use this information in our recruitment and membership efforts? Tune in to the DMC newsletter next week, where we take the information we have gleaned and apply it to our fraternity. Bottom line: ls it possible to recruit young men and women in the 19-39 age range into Odd Fellowship?

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – Generational Change in the Odd Fellows

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

There are, essentially, five generations living in America today. We have the “Silent Generation” (sometimes called the “Greatest Generation” or the “Traditionalists”) – born between 1925-1945. There are the “Boomers” – born between 1946-1964. We have “Generation X” – those born between 1965-1980. The “Millennial Generation” – born in the time period 1980-2000. And “Generation Z” – born after 2000. The differences between these generations are profound. And if Lodges in America wish to grow their memberships, they need to have a much better understanding and appreciation of those profound differences.

Let’s be frank. The average Odd Fellows Lodge in America is composed almost exclusively of members of the Silent Generation, with some Boomers in the mix. So, how does a Lodge of Septuagenarians and Octogenarians attract members of these other, younger generations to join? This question is so significant to the future viability of the Order, and so complex, that I will devote the next three DMC articles to its exposition. Let’s first get an understanding of the great distinctions between the generations at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found 7 significant differences between the Silent Generation and the Millennial Generation.

1. Millenials are much better educated than the Silent Generation. And this difference is most profound among women. Only 9% of women in the Silent Generation had completed at least four years of college while they were young. By comparison, 36% of Millennial women have a bachelor’s degree at the same age. Three in ten Millennial men (29%) have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 15% in the Silent Generation. The Millennials are a highly educated cohort.

2. A higher percentage of Millennial women have a bachelor’s degree than their male counterparts. This is just the opposite of the Silent Generation. Among Millennials, women are 7% more likely than men to have finished at least a bachelor’s degree. In the days when members of the Silent Generation were young, women were 6% less likely than men to have finished at least four years of college education.

3. Young women today are far more likely to be working as compared with women in the Silent Generation. When women in the Silent Generation were young in the mid-60’s, 58% were not participating in the work force, and only 40% were employed. Today, 71% of young Millennial women are employed and only 26% are not in the labor force.

4. In terms of marriage, Millenials are three times more likely to have never married compared to the Silent Generation when they were young. Among Millenials, 57% have never married. But when members of the Silent Generation were of the same age as Millennials are now, only 17% had never married.

5. It is much more likely that members of the Millennial Generation will be racial or ethnic minorities than were the members of the Silent Generation. It’s no secret that 50 years ago, America was less racially and ethnically diverse than it is today. The change is the result, primarily, of large-scale immigration, primarily from Asia and Latin America, and the rise of racial intermarriage. Among the Silent Generation, 84% were non-Hispanic whites, compared to Millennials who are 56% non-Hispanic whites. The share who are Hispanic is 21% among Millenials compared to just 4% in the Silent Generation.

6. Young Silent Generation men were more than 10 times more likely to be veterans than Millennial men are today. Only 4% of the Millennial men are veterans compared with 47% of Silent Generation men.

7. In 1965 when members of the Silent Generation were young, 67% (two-thirds) lived in a metropolitan area. Today, however, a whooping 88% of Millennials live in metropolitan areas.

Armed with this basic information, how should the Lodge address the Millennial Generation and encourage those young men and women (in the age range of 19 to 39) to consider Odd Fellowship? Tune in to the next two DMC newsletters for some answers!

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – More on Membership

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

DMC was founded in 2006 with one singular goal: To encourage Odd Fellows membership growth. We have focused on this goal with laser-like dedication year after year, month after month, week after week, and day after day. And the reason is simple. Odd Fellowship has been on a steady decline in membership for the past three generations. Unless we stop, and then reverse, this free-fall, the Order will be diminished and may very well pass away into the annals of fraternal history. Every true Odd Fellow who cares about our three-links fraternity should heartily applaud and support this goal.

One of the methods by which DMC fosters the goal of membership growth is that we, from time to time, offer helpful suggestions to help your Lodge grow. This newsletter will continue the effort, and will focus on challenges faced by the very small Lodge – that is, the Lodge of 6-12 members. These very small Lodges often have great difficulty even maintaining a bare quorum so that they can have a meeting. If you are a Noble Grand, or a Vice Grand, or a member of such a very small Lodge, this newsletter is directed to YOU. Is your very small Lodge destined to die? Inevitably, yes, if you make no effort to save it. Eventually, the very small Lodge will diminish and will literally expire (e.g. surrender the charter or seek to consolidate) as your older members move away or pass away. This scenario, however, is not inevitable for members who make the effort to change the trajectory. Is it worth the effort? Certainly. If your Lodge has been in existence for a century or more, shame on you if you let it die during your watch.

So what can the very small Lodge do to increase membership and revitalize the Lodge?

Plenty. Following is a five-point revitalization plan that will work in your Lodge, if you have the energy and determination to do it. Here goes:

1. The Retreat. The first step in the process of revitalizing the very small Lodge is to talk about it. After all, declining membership has to be the elephant sitting in the middle of your Lodge room. You can step around the elephant and choose to ignore it, or you can recognize that you have a pachyderm in your midst and deal with it. In this regard, you need to convene a meeting of the Lodge (call it a Lodge Retreat if you will), solely dedicated to one topic: Membership. Have a frank discussion about the topic and see if you can move to point two of the revitalization plan.

2. The Commitment. Membership development is not accomplished by Sovereign Grand Lodge, nor by Grand Lodge, nor even by your Lodge. Only members of the Lodge can ultimately bring in new members. It is a task for each member, not just one or two. Imagine, in the very small Lodge if each member brought in just one new member – the Lodge would double in size. Now, you may find that the members of your Lodge are too tired, too lazy, too old, or too complacent to care about bringing in new blood (in fact, you may find that some members actually don’t want new members, because new members might change the status quo to which they have become accustomed). If that is the consensus of your Lodge, then (to be completely frank) your Lodge is just a zombie Lodge, going through the motions, but not the spirit of a fraternity. It is destined to diminish and perish. On the other hand, if at least a majority of the members are ready to grow and save the Lodge, then there is hope for your Lodge’s future. Get the commitment from the membership to move on to point three of the revitalization plan.

3. The Ask. So, what can the very small Lodge do to change the trajectory? Plenty Unless you are a member of a Lodge of hermits and recluses, then it’s fair to say that everyone knows someone. It could be a wife or husband, a son or a daughter, a grandson or granddaughter, bothers and sisters, nieces and nephews – just to mention family members. Then there are the business people you know, colleagues at work or in the retirement community, town leaders, members of your church or temple, your barber or hairdresser, doctor, lawyer, chiropractor, etc. Every member of the Lodge should identify at least three people to whom the will talk about the Lodge and whom they will actually ask to consider joining the Lodge. But a word of caution: point three of the plan won’t work unless point four is in place.

4. The Reveal. OK. So, you have talked to Fred and Mary about your Lodge and about Odd Fellowship, and they have expressed some interest. That is a huge step forward. But, all this effort will be for nothing unless you can present something that will capture Fred and Mary’s interest. Let me let you in on a little secret. No one will join your Lodge if all you do is read from the ritual book and have nifty passwords and signs. When you finally “reveal” your Lodge to the new prospect, what can you show them? Does your Lodge have a community project? Does your Lodge have some enjoyable social events for the members? Without the ability to do good works in the community and without a fun social aspect – there is, frankly, little that Lodge membership can offer. Even the smallest Lodge can have one community project. Even the smallest Lodge can plan and schedule fun and meaningful social events for members and family.

5. The Next Generation. Any revitalization plan – even for the very small Lodge – must focus not only on the present, but also on the future. If, for example. the membership of the Lodge are all in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, it makes little sense to bring in new members in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Nothing wrong with that generation, of course. However, if all the new members brought into the Lodge are, essentially, the same age as existing members, your Lodge is doomed to failure. In 10 years, the membership of the Lodge will be a bit larger, but it will be a group in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. While you bring in members of your own age and generation, it is imperative that you also bring in younger members of the next generation.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – Odd Fellows Time Machine

Please join me on a little trip in the Odd Fellows’ time machine.

Let’s visit America in 1919, 100 years ago. In 1919 you could get a dozen eggs for 34 cents, a quart of milk cost 9 cents, and a loaf of bread cost 6 cents. First class postage stamps cost 2 cents and a gallon of gas was only 12 cents. Typical yearly take-home pay was $687. Very few people had cars, but you could buy one for around $500. And an average house cost $3,500. On January 6, 1919, Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, died in his sleep at the age of 60. On January 16, the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, went into effect authorizing prohibition. In February, Oregon placed a 1 cent tax on gasoline, becoming the first state to do so. And Congress established the Grand Canyon as a national park. In May a race riot broke out in Charleston, South Carolina, and three black men died. UCLA was established in May, as well, becoming the southern branch of the University of California system. In June, the Congress approved the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing suffrage to women. In July, the US Army sent the first convoy of motor vehicles across the continental United States – the motorcade arrived in San Francisco in September

In 1919 social security didn’t exist and many elderly lived in poverty conditions. Americans in 1919 spent one-third of their income on food. And food wasn’t particularly good or healthy. The average American ate 11.5 pounds of lard and 14 pounds of chicken per year. (In 2019, Americans are expected to consume 57 pounds of chicken and 1.5 pounds of lard per year.) Half of all families lived in rural areas or in towns with populations less than 2,500. The average household was crowded, with more than four people (today it’s less than 2.5 people in a household). Owning homes was a rarity in 1919 – there were about four times as many renters as homeowners 100 years ago. (Today, more than 60% own their own home.) In 1919, only 100 million people lived in the USA and more than half were under 25. A century later, the population has more than tripled, and the share of people under 25 has fallen to one-third. Meanwhile, the share of people over 65 has tripled from 5% to 15%.

In 1919, hardly anyone drove cars. People generally walked, rode horses, and occasionally took the trolley. There was very little commuting. People generally lived close to their work and typically walked to work. Men wore blue serge suits to work, and women wore long dresses or long skirts. Entertainment was the player piano or the photograph. Fraternal Orders, including Odd Fellows, were flourishing across the country.

Now, let’s come back to reality in 2019. In 2019 America is a completely different place than it was in 1919. America in 2019 is a place that folks in 1919 could not even imagine: a place of airplanes, fast cars, computers, laptops, cell phones, smart watches, equal rights for women, credit and debit cars, maternity leave, movies, television, refrigerators, washers-dryers, bikinis, etc. etc. And yet, there are Odd Fellows who believe that if the Order would only go back to the way we operated in 1919, all would be well and we would grow again. That bit of whimsy makes no sense. To flourish and grow, Odd Fellowship needs to evolve and change. Only then will the men and women of the 21st Century be attracted to Odd Fellowship. The landscape of America is littered with the corpses of fraternal orders that rigidly refused to change. Odd Fellowship must evolve with the times.

One cannot attract the electric car generation to a horse-and-buggy Lodge.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – A generation of Odd Fellows have failed.

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

A few days ago I received an email from a member of a Lodge in another State, seeking answers. I will not reveal the identity of the state or the member’s true name to preserve confidentiality. This member – whom I shall call “Chris” – had joined this Lodge about one year ago, and was perplexed. Seems like virtually all the remaining members of the Lodge were fairly new, and (with the exception of one elderly member residing in a nursing home) there was no member who had any historical memory of the Lodge nor could give any guidance to Chris. When the new members gather for a meeting, less than 10 show up. They have ritual books, but they don’t have knowledge of even the most rudimentary aspects of Odd Fellowship – such as what are the various Lodge officer’s duties and responsibilities. When I asked Chris for a copy of the Bylaws of the Lodge, Chris seemed genuinely flummoxed and had no knowledge of them.

Kudos to Chris trying to make heads or tails of Chris’ Lodge and Odd Fellowship. But how in the world did this Lodge devolve into its present state? The answer, to me, is both simple and sad.

The generation of members of this Lodge that preceded Chris were, frankly, selfish. These members did not plan for the future. Apparently, their only concern was enjoying their Lodge experience in the present. Nothing wrong with that, per se. Everyone should enjoy their Lodge experience – otherwise, why do it? But there is more to Odd Fellowship than the present. Just like there is more to Odd Fellowship than the past. Don’t misunderstand my point: both past and present are important. But, the equation is incomplete without consideration of the future.

The generation of Odd Fellows who occupied that Lodge prior to the arrival of Chris did not plan for the future. They made two mistakes that could very well prove fatal to that Lodge. First, they failed to bring new members into the Lodge who represented different ages and different generations. Second, they failed to let goof the reins of power. Each one, by itself, is a horrible miscalculation. Together, they present an almost insurmountable impediment to the future viability of the Lodge. By failing to bring in younger members, and members representing different generations, the old members did not create a future and steady stream of active members. Bringing in only members of their own generation and age-group probably felt very comfortable to the older members – but as these members “age out” of Odd Fellowship (by incapacity or retirement or death) they all tend to age out at about the same time, leaving the leadership of the Lodge in the lurch. And when older members hold on tightly to all the key offices of the Lodge, they effectively cut out the education and progress of the younger members. They have failed to educate, teach and elevate the character of the newer members. The older members may have benefited the Lodge for an interim period, but in the long run they have created a Lodge that lacks knowledge and that has no successor generation of leaders. Shame on these older members for choosing their own comfort over the welfare of the Order.

They have failed Chris. And they have failed Odd Fellowship.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – When will we discuss Odd Fellows membership?

By far the most important issue facing Odd Fellowship is our membership decline. This issue has faced us for three generations, and continues to vex us today. It is, and should be, the number one challenge for our Order, and it should be – without doubt – the number one issue facing our Sovereign Grand Lodge.

Yet, at SGL sessions, the issue of membership decline is barely mentioned, let alone addressed. It is the elephant (indeed, the mammoth) in the middle of our Odd Fellows’ living room. Yet the representatives at Sovereign don’t just tiptoe around it – they make believe it isn’t there. How does Sovereign address the membership issue? When the Chair of the SGL Membership Committee finally raised the flag of danger on membership declines and, in an article stated that our Order would die out unless we addressed it, he was roundly criticized by some for saying the Order was in trouble, and generally ignored by most at Sovereign.

Sovereign’s program to address membership declines is to issue nifty certificates to units that show a 2% increase in their membership. Let me explain why this 2% approach is simply an exercise in futility. Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone likes to get a nifty certificate of recognition. But a 2% growth for a unit is nothing to cheer about, and it won’t solve the problem of our declines in membership. Let me give you two reasons why a 2% target is not a solution at all. Let’s start with a fairly large Lodge (by Odd Fellows standards) – say 50 members. If that Lodge were to add 1 member in a year, that Lodge has reached its goal and they would receive the 2% certificate. But it would take that Lodge some 50 years (a couple of generations) to add the members needed to replace the aging population of the Lodge. Yet that Lodge doesn’t have 50 years, particularly when the majority of its members are in their 70’s, 80’s or older. Let’s take a look at the small Lodge of 10 members. How in the world does a 2% growth rate even apply to such a Lodge? Do they meet their goal if they add 1 member every 5 years?

And the numbers from SGL bear out the dilemma we face. The latest statistics shared by SGL can be found in the Advance Reports of the Sovereign Grand Lodge dated 2017. The report, at page 196, shows that from December 31, 2015 to December 1, 2016, the following declines occurred: the number of Odd Fellows Lodges declined by 1.74%; the number of Rebekah Lodges declined by 4.51%; the number of Encampments declined by 3.81%; the number of Ladies Encampment Auxiliaries declined by 7.45%; the number of Cantons (PM) declined by 4.42%; the number of Ladies Auxiliaries (PM) declined by 3.80%. Spanning the same period of time, the membership numbers of Odd Fellows declined by 2.27%; the number of members of Rebekah Lodges declined 2.99%; Encampment membership dropped 1.84%; LEA dropped 6.48%; PM dropped 2.26%; LAPM dropped a staggering 9.21%. These are significant and troubling declines. We cannot sustain the Order with these declines. We don’t have 50 years.

The problem is clear. It has been clear for decades. The situation doesn’t improve when we ignore it or hope it will just fix itself and go away.

So, what’s the solution? Are we destined to join the hundreds of fraternal orders that have sprung up in North America over the centuries, functioned for awhile, and then faded away; are we destined to be an historical footnote? It doesn’t have to be this way. The solution is right before our very eyes. We just need to open our eyes to see it. The solution is reflected in a few Lodges around the country. While the Order has been diminishing for decades, there are a few Lodges that have bucked the trend. While the vast majority of Lodges are declining, these few Lodges – at the very same time – show net increases in membership year after year. The few Lodges that are showing net growth in membership year after year prove that Odd Fellowship is relevant and can attract the men and women of the 21st Century. These growing Lodges are laboratories of success. They point the way to the future.

Based on the success stories reflecting in these Lodges, here are my Seven Steps to Success for the future growth and progress of this Order:

1. Separate but equal branches for men and women are no longer appropriate or viable in the 21st Century. Branches must merge going forward. PM and LAPM; then LEA and Encampment; and finally Rebekahs and Odd Fellows. We must align into one Lodge with many degrees. This new paradigm is a process that can be accomplished within 5 years.

2. Sovereign Grand Lodge must restructure itself. It is grossly unfair to have this Order run by a small minority of members. Why should a jurisdiction with 200 members have the same voting power as a jurisdiction with over 2,000 members?

3. The Ritual of this Order must be updated and modernized. Odd Fellowship is supposed to be non-sectarian. The Ritual must become user-friendly to all genders, all races, and people of all faiths and beliefs.

4. Social meetings of the Lodge should be encouraged. Formal Lodge meetings with full ritual and regalia should be reduced to no less than four and no more than six per year.

5. Lodges must become part of their communities, not isolated and shut away from their communities. Lodges must reach out to undertake community projects. Lodges must open their doors to the community from time to time, and must have distinctive signage so that the community knows this is a Lodge of Odd Fellows.

6. Lodge Halls must be places where turmoil and bickering is left behind. The Lodge experience should be enjoyable. Lodges should provide for an active social life and programs for members.

7. Lodge membership should reflect the community, in gender, ages, race and ethnic background. Every generation – from teenagers to those in their 90’s – should be reflected in the membership of the Lodge. Every Odd Fellows Lodge must have women as members. Twenty years after membership in Odd Fellows Lodges was opened to women, it is time for every Lodge to have women among its members. There is no longer any viable reason or excuse not to do so.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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