The Publicity Opportunities We Overlook

By Peter V. Sellars, PGM

One of the most important factors of making people aware of an organization, is publicity. The Odd Fellows need publicity. Every lodge needs publicity. How does an Odd Fellows Lodge gain publicity?

There are many promotional ideas to gain publicity. Some take very little money. Other ideas require more money. Some ideas only take action, as simple as writing an article and sending it to a local newspaper or the posting of an article or idea on social media. It comes down to simply sharing what the Order has to offer.

This article could take off in so many directions, as I think of all the ways Odd Fellows Lodges have sought publicity and the numerous promotions lodges have done, and there have been many ideas tried.

Does promoting an Odd Fellows Lodge work? Yes! Will many ideas work for one lodge? Sometimes, it takes many different ways to promote a lodge. Sometimes, it may take only one great idea. Sometimes, ideas must be repeated. Some become regular occurrences. Ideas that promote the lodge should become publicity for the lodge.

So far, you should know promotion of a lodge is important and that publicity may be gained through the fruits of that promotional event or idea. Now, let’s look at some examples of ideas:

1. Submit an article (or multiple articles) detailing the success of a recent event to a local publication.

2. Placing an advertisement in the newspaper or on social media of an upcoming event – or that membership is open to all those interested (included benefits and activities of the lodge)

3. Have patches, hats, t-shirts, polo shirts, made for members and non-members to wear (either give away as a promotional or sell for a fundraiser; newer members appreciate and like our symbols of the skull & cross bones, hourglass, all-seeing eye, etc.

4. Take the Odd Fellow members on outings (at least once a month). Members enjoy activities. Go to local arcades, ballgames, museums, theatres, theme parks, boat/ferry trips, etc. The lodge can subsidize to reduce the costs for such outings; this would be considered a promotional to gain and retain members.

5. Adopt-A-Highway, Clean-up-a-Street, Clean-up-a-park, Clean-up-a-Creek, and other related great opportunities where the Odd Fellows Lodge name is posted for its good works.

6. Billboards work, if an Odd Fellows Lodge (or collective lodges) can afford. Simply place the Three-Links or another cool symbol to get the attention of the public.

7. Pay for uniforms of a little league baseball team, soccer team, basketball team, or any other type sports team where the participants wear clothing with the logo of “Odd Fellows” or the three-links, etc. This is advertisement. There are adult leagues as well. You may even pull in some new members as a result of support.

8. YOU FILL IN THE SPACE! ________________________________.

All of these ideas have been employed at one time or another by various Odd Fellow Lodges. All are very good promotional ideas. It is not a question of what is good or not; the main concern is getting every lodge participating in advertising and promoting the Order to the public.

There actually are lodges that do none of the above. There are lodges that only meet and go home and wait until the next meeting. They do not promote the Order. They do not share anything with the public. These are the lodges that won’t grow or attract new members or gain support or positive attention of the public.

Paying for the promotion of a lodge or organization is the same as promoting a business. The expense of advertising and promoting of such entities is allowable by the Internal Revenue Service, as long as your idea conforms to local law and our own Order’s code.

Every Odd Fellows lodge should join in on creating ideas to promote the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Let’s join this effort and continue being a presence in our communities.

Davis Odd Fellows Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament

Davis Odd Fellows Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament

The Davis Odd Fellows are pleased to announce our First Annual “Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament” coming to the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall, 415 2nd Street, Davis, on Saturday, September 29. Doors open at 6:01 p.m. and the Texas Hold ’em tournament starts promptly at 6:35 p.m. This is real Texas Hold ’em Poker in a professionally run tournament, sanctioned by the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control. The Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament is open to the general public and you must be at least 21 years old to play.

Only 75 tickets will be sold for this event, costing $55 per person, with buy-ins costing just $20. The first-place winner of the Davis Odd Fellows Texas Hold ’em tournament will receive $500; the second-place winner will receive $250. And the third-place winner will get $125. Snacks and desserts will be available and are included in the ticket price. Players must be in their seats by 6:30 p.m. and the poker tournament starts promptly at 6:35 p.m.

Advance tickets are available online at oddfellowspoker.eventbrite.com. Hard-copy tickets for the Davis Odd Fellows Texas Hold ’em tournament may also be purchased at Avid Reader Active on Second Street in Downtown Davis. A no-host bar will be open starting at 6 p.m. and throughout the tournament, serving an assortment of beers, wines, and spirits.

F – L – T

Odd Fellow Lodge Consolidation Speaks Of Failure

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Some members believe that consolidation of Odd Fellow Lodges is a fine thing, and a major accomplishment. There is even a formal consolidation ceremony in our ritual that is performed when the merger of two (or more) Lodges is consummated. In the ceremony, the absorbed Odd Fellow Lodge is called the “consolidated” Lodge and the absorbing Lodge is called the “consolidating” Lodge. There is a fair amount of pomp, circumstance and ceremony involved in the consolidation ceremony. You can find it in the ritual (the “red book”).

But to me, consolidation speaks more of failure than success. It should not be the subject of a celebration. It is a cause for concern.

A consolidation is just a fancier way to saying that an Odd Fellow Lodge has gone out of business. It is a more genteel way, if you will, of pulling a Lodge’s charter. When two Lodges consolidate, it means that one Lodge has gone out of business because the membership has fallen so low that it is no longer viable. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Typically, Lodges that consolidate into another Lodge have not been viable for many years. The demising Lodge has lost a quorum of regular members, and has often been kept on life support by the kindness of associate members – typically from the gaining Lodge. The failed Lodge may have gone for months without meetings because of the lack of quorum. Truth be told, the absorbed Lodge’s leadership and members have failed their Lodge and have failed the Order. They have allowed the membership to age and to dwindle. In the past, the absorbed Lodge may have been sustained for decades, sometimes well over a Century, by members who lovingly cared for the Lodge Hall, were proud of their history and accomplishments, and happily brought in new members to continue the fraternal experience. But the current generation of members was too old, or too complacent, or too distracted, or too clueless, or too incompetent to continue that history. They let the Lodge lapse on their watch. They let the Lodge become a mere historical footnote. What a shame.

In the California jurisdiction, we have three consolidations that have just occurred or are pending. I am sure that other jurisdictions have consolidations in some phase of devolution. In two of the three California consolidations, the demising Lodge had five dues-paying member on its books. In one case, the books showed eight dues-paying members. But it’s probably smoke-and-mirrors to some extent. Of the few dues-paying members, some may have been too old or ill to travel to meetings, some may not even live in the jurisdiction, and some may have simply stopped attending even though they write a dues check once a year. The absorbed Lodges have really been defunct for years- they are zombie Lodges, going through the motions of life, but long since derelict, decrepit and deceased

Odd Fellow Lodges that have five dues-paying members on the books have gone past the point of no-return. But Lodges with 10 or fewer dues-paying members should be concerned as well – and there are 18 Lodges in California with 10 or fewer members. Having 10 or fewer members should be a red flag for the leadership and members of those Lodges. It is critical that they bring in more members. There is no time to delay. Under the theory that only about half the members truly participate in Lodge meetings and activities, a Lodge with 10 or fewer members is skating perilously close to the precipice of consolidation. (I note that there are another 14 Lodges in California with 11 or 12 dues-paying members. Should those Lodges be concerned, as well? You bet they should.)

Surrendering an Odd Fellow Lodge charter or having it pulled by the Grand Master is the ultimate indignity in a fraternal order. For a Lodge to be absorbed through consolidation is, perhaps, a step up, but it’s no cause for celebration.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

DMC – It’s Time To Wake Up

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

There are DMC members throughout California, the United States, Canada, and Europe. From time to time those members send me newspaper articles that are of particular interest. Below is a link to the Akron, Ohio, newspaper. Please click on the link – I think you will find the newspaper article intriguing and revealing.

It shows what Odd Fellowship was like in a small town in 1918, a Century ago. The article presents a fascinating vignette of the times. There are those in this Order – including many at Sovereign Grand Lodge and in leadership positions in Grand Lodges around the country – who believe that if we simply went back to the way it was one hundred years ago, all would be fine and dandy and we would grow and flourish as an Order. They are wrong. We cannot take an Odd Fellows’ time machine to the past. Those were completely different times, with different issues, lifestyles, views of the world – not to mention different modes of transportation, communication, education, employment, attire and entertainment. The way to the future is to embrace the future, not attempt to live in the past.

While some in leadership at SGL seem to have given up and predict the death of this Order, DMC has not given up. We know that Odd Fellowship is relevant and can not only survive but can grow. In California we are actually showing net gains in membership. In my own Lodge over the last 10 years we have grown from 30 members to over 300. Don’t tell me Odd Fellowship is dead. It is just asleep in some Lodges and in some jurisdictions. We need to simply wake up to welcome the next generation of members.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

Local history: Odd Fellows paid tribute to their dead with 1918 monument

DMC – Odd Fellows Self-Awareness Test

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

How about taking a little “self-awareness test”?

As we continue to decline in membership and in the number of Lodges in this Order, I thought it might be useful to develop this short, 20 question test. It’s apparent to me that there are Lodge members out there in the ether who actually do not know if their Lodge is or isn’t in danger of losing their charter because of declining membership. So, as a public service, I have developed this simple test – and all will be revealed. Think of it as the OUIJA Board of Lodge Futures. I ask you to be completely honest in your answers to this test. Remember, it’s a personal test. No one is going to see the results, or grade you. It’s just for you. The questions must all be answered either “yes” or “no”.

So, begin the test now:

1. Does your Lodge have more than 19 dues-paying members?

2. Does your Lodge typically have at least 10 members in attendance at your meetings?

3. Does your Lodge have at least two members who are younger than 40?

4. Does your Lodge have at least two members who are younger than 30?

5. Does your Lodge have any female members?

6. Does your Lodge have at least two members who are female?

7. Has your Lodge initiated at least one new member over the last two years?

8. Has your Lodge initiated at least one new member over the last year?

9. Does your Lodge’s Noble Grand typically serve for only one term?

10. Do more than two members run your Lodge?

11. At your typical Lodge meeting, is bickering among some members a rare event?

12. Does your Lodge sponsor and host at least one signature event for the community each year?

13. Did your Lodge send at least three press releases to your local newspaper over the past year?

14. If you were to ask the typical town resident “where is the Odd Fellows Lodge located”, would they know the answer?

15. Does your Lodge have a dinner or potluck or refreshments prior to your meetings?

16. Did your Lodge contribute to local community and charitable causes over the last year?

17. Does your Lodge produce a newsletter (either e-mail or hard copy) for the members?

18. Is the majority of your Lodge meeting time taken up by committee reports and new business?

19. Have you, personally, sponsored a new member who was initiated into your Lodge over the past two years?

20. Do you, personally, enjoy attending Lodge meetings?

That’s it! So, tally up the number of your answers that were “yes”.

If you had 18-20 “yes” answers, your Lodge is a superstar. I am confident that you are a member of a very well-rounded and successful Lodge that has a bright future. If you had 14-17 “yes” answers, then your Lodge has great potential, and with a little work can be considered a Lodge that will survive well into the 21st Century. If you had 10-13 “yes” answers, then you should be quite concerned about the future viability of your Lodge. Some quick corrective action must be taken, or your Lodge will wither. If you had 5-9 “yes” answers, I suggest that your Lodge is in trouble, and absent some significant turn-around, particularly in Lodge activity and new membership, will not survive another decade. And if you had 0-4 “yes” answers, then – sad to say – there is little hope for the survival of your Lodge. You are a member of a boring, do-nothing Lodge, that is slowly making the descent to a lack of quorum and loss of charter. You should start looking around for a nearby Lodge with which you can consolidate, if they will take you.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg

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