Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
California is the most populace jurisdiction within the Sovereign Grand Lodge. Over the past five years, California has really ramped up its focus on membership development and the results are encouraging. Prior to 2015, our jurisdiction (like most every other jurisdiction) showed a decline in membership year after year and decade after decade. Starting in 2015, however, with our renewed emphasis on bringing in new members, California has either shown modest increases in membership or has shown a steady state. At a minimum, we have stopped the sharp declines in our membership statistics.
I have some very preliminary numbers for California, and I wish to share them with you at this time. The numbers shown are for “dues paying members”.
At the top of the membership food chain we have 4 Lodges showing 200 or more members. Following that peak, we have 3 Lodges with 100 or more members, and 3 Lodges which have memberships in the 75-99 range. These 10 Lodges comprise 40% of the membership of California.
Next, we have 12 Lodges in the 50-74 members range; another 31 Lodges in the 25-49 member range; 27 Lodges in the 15-24 member range; and finally, we have 32 Lodges with 14 or fewer members. (And, included within those 32 Lodges with 14 or fewer members are fully 12 Lodges that show 9 or fewer members on their books.)
Of all our Lodges, 38 showed a net gain of members (in other words, an increase in members in 2019 from the totals in 2018). On the flip side were 42 Lodges which showed a net loss of members (that is, the number of members decreased from 2018 to 2019). And then there were 32 Lodges that maintained a steady state – no increase or decrease in membership – a net zero change between 2018 and 2019.
What can we learn from these numbers?
1. Seven of our Lodges reflected significant net gains , showing membership number increases in the double digits. Recognizing these achievements, here is the honor roll showing net increases in membership from 2018 to 2019:
Morse Lodge #257: 50 to 75, a net increase of 25
Franco-American Lodge #207: 115 to 139, a net increase of 24
Oceanview Lodge #143: 69 to 93, a net increase of 24
Costa Mesa Lodge #29: 11 to 28, a net increase of 17
Davis Lodge #169: 283 to 296, a net increase of 13
Odin Lodge #393: 13 to 25, a net increase of 12
Saratoga Lodge #428: 40 to 51, a net increase of 11
At DMC we commend all 38 of the Lodges that showed increases in membership. These Lodges show what effective membership programs can accomplish, and maintain the future of the Order.
2. We hope the 32 Lodges that maintained a steady state (no increase and no decrease) will recognize that they are SO CLOSE to showing a net gain. A little extra effort will put these Lodges in the “net gain” category.
3. I am sure that the 42 Lodges that showed a net loss of members are well aware of their situations. And I am sure that there, perhaps, 42 reasons for the declines. In many cases, the declines were very small – perhaps a net loss of only 1 or 2 members. In some cases, the Lodges were clearing out their books – to accurately reflect true membership – and in the long run that is a very good thing. But in some cases, the losses were significant and this should be a yellow caution flag for the Lodges that experienced such significant losses.
4. Of great concern are the 12 Lodges that show 9 or fewer dues paying members on their books. In my opinion, any Lodge with 9 of fewer members is a potential red flag. Understanding that it is a rare event for all members to attend all meetings, such small-membership Lodges will inevitably have quorum issues. And in such very small Lodges, the loss of even one member can be devastating.
The statistic that continues to concern me is the aggregation of membership numbers in the largest of our Lodges, and the diminution of membership numbers in the very smallest of our Lodges. I have seen this trend unfolding for years. It shows me that our Order may be a mile wide and an inch deep.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California