Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
First, the good news.
Our collective work in California is paying off as we see yet another year with a small net gain in membership. This is particularly welcome news because the Order had been in membership free fall for decades. In fact, for two generations, membership had fallen year after year after year. And then, coinciding soon after the formation of DMC, and a renewed focus on membership, we have halted the drop, have stabilized, and are now seeing modest net gains in membership. When we review 2018, we see that the membership total on January 1, 2018 was 4,557 Odd Fellows, and then on December 31, 2018, preliminary numbers show the membership had increased to 4,573 Odd Fellows – a net gain of 16. A small positive number, to be sure. But a net gain – any net gain – is much more desirable than a net loss.
Interestingly, the net gain in California comes as a result of a significant increase in female members. Male members actually experienced a net loss in 2018, but the significant increase in sisters resulted in an overall net gain for 2018. Kudos to California for showing net gains in membership again! The hard membership focus of members, Lodges and Grand Lodge is paying off.
Now, the not-so-good news.
When we start peeling away the layers, however, we see that the vast majority of our California Lodges either experienced a net loss or were static – no net gain or loss. (Again, these are preliminary statistics because several of our Lodges were very late in submitting their annual reports for 2018, and some reports were incomplete.) Only 37 of California’s Lodges showed a net gain, and many of those were net gains of 1 or 2 members. Only a few Lodges showed significant net gains. But those few apparently carried the others that were static or showed losses. In fact, only six Lodges showed net gains (not from consolidations) in double-digits. These six fast-growing Lodges (with their respective net gain numbers in parenthesis) are: Morse (25), Franco-American (24), Ocean View (24), Davis (13), Odin (12), and Saratoga (11). Kudos to these fast-paced Lodges; they show that Odd Fellowship is alive and well, and quite relevant in the 21st Century.
Yet, when analyzing the total picture of Lodges as of 2018, we see, once again, that the Order is a mile wide and an inch deep. We have 111 Lodges in California (when one removes the Jurisdictional Lodge and the Volcano Historical Lodge). We have only 4 Lodges with memberships in the 200’s – Davis (296), California (261), Yerba Buena (231), and Apollo (221). We have only 3 Lodges with memberships in the 100’s – Franco-American (139), Golden West (134), and Lodi (119). The membership of these 7 large Lodges comprises about 30% of the membership of the California IOOF. Put another way: 1 out of every 3 Odd Fellows in California belongs to these 7 Lodges.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, California has 20 Lodges (that’s almost 20% of our Lodges) with 12 or fewer members. And of that 20, we have 10 Lodges where membership is 10 or less. Many of these very small Lodges function only through the help and support of associate members. Needless to say, a Lodge with 10 or fewer members is just a heartbeat away from losing a quorum. If any of these very small Lodges continue to fail to add new members, their days are surely numbered. Renewed attention should be given to these Lodges with very small membership numbers. At a minimum, the yellow flag of caution is raised.
Overall, California – the largest jurisdiction in North America – shows positive membership results. California should be proud that membership is growing.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California