Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
An article on the front page of the September 27, 2017, edition of the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. You might find it interesting. It was all about the slow diminishing in membership of the American Legion (an organization for veterans of the armed forces) and how some of the newer members of American Legion Post 43 are changing the perception of the legion. Here are some of the salient parts of the article:
“Here are words not often seen together in a sentence: American Legion and cool.
The young guns who have seized control of American Legion Post 43 are trying to fuse them together in the minds of a new generation of combat veterans . . . .
The American Legion has an image problem. Though the group is immersed in good works, its name summons visions of crotchety vets nursing beers in linoleum-floored posts. An ‘old-timey funny-hat club.’
At one California Legion convention, [one of the new members stated that he] was aghast the program mostly featured ads for hospices and cemeteries. [The member stated that the message was] ‘Welcome to the American Legion – prepare to die.’
There was little effort to make the Post a social center.”
Well, it should. This article could very well be talking about Odd Fellowship. There are Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodges where the average age of members hovers around 70, and where a major item of discussion is the ubiquitous agenda item: Members Sick and in Distress. The Masons run hospitals for children. Odd Fellowship is an organization which, at the Sovereign Grand Lodge level, favors the Arthritis Foundation and Visual Research. We own cemeteries.
The new members of American Legion Post 43 set a goal of doubling membership. The meeting hall was completely renovated. They ratcheted up the social aspects – trying new things like Karaoke nights and comedy nights, forming running clubs and shooting clubs. They started a website so that vets could join by clicking any paying dues by credit card. The results were amazing. The number of new members who joined did not just double – it increased ten-fold.
Declining membership is a challenge faced not just by the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, but by most lodges, organizations and clubs. Men and women in 2017 have different challenges than men and women in 1917. Organizations that recognize this simple fact, and reinvent themselves, will thrive in the new Century. Organizations that fail to recognize this will continue the steady decline in membership. And a steady decline can only end one way . . . .
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California