Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
At the next meeting of your Lodge, take a moment to look around the room. What do you see?
Do you see a small group of members in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s? If that is the view, then your Lodge is in trouble. Not today, perhaps. Not even next year. But, mark my words, your Lodge is in its death spiral. Why? Because your Lodge has skipped a generation. Where are the members in their 50’s, 40’s, 30’s and 20’s? In fact, if everyone in the room is in the 60-89 age bracket, your Lodge has actually skipped two generations. And fraternal orders can’t afford to do that. As Lodge members age, it is imperative that the Lodge “back-fill” with younger members to keep the Lodge going. Otherwise, those 60-year-old members will become septuagenarians, and those 70-year-old members will become octogenarians, and so on. No one lives forever. If you don’t have children, your line will eventually perish. If a Lodge doesn’t bring in younger members, it too will perish.
And your Lodge won’t bring in new members if your Lodge is not relevant to them.
Following is an article I wrote on September 2, 2012, which is as pertinent today as it was six years ago.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
On the front page of one of my morning papers this morning – the Sacramento Bee – is an article entitled, “Band of brothers is fading with age.” I’m an active-duty US Army veteran myself, so it caught my interest. The gist of the article is that the established veterans organizations in America are losing membership because younger veterans just aren’t joining. These groups reached their peaks at the end of World War II and since then have found their numbers diminishing. Respected groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are rapidly dropping in their membership counts. Here’s a quote from a veteran in the article: “Younger veterans don’t want to join an organization with a bunch of older guys.”
What’s happening to the veterans’ organizations is the same phenomenon that is happening to fraternal orders – including the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
The generations born in the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s have different interests and different perspectives that the prior generations. Here’s another quote from the article: “Rather than hanging out . . . with their buddies and reminisce, younger veterans prefer family-friendly amenities, an emphasis on community service . . . . free Wi-Fi at the halls might help, too.” In fact, it struck me that as I am reading this article in the newspaper, the folks in their 20’s and 30’s and 40’s are probably reading the same article on line, and probably on their smart phones.
It’s just different now.
For example, ancient Odd Fellows admonitions from the 1700’s and 1800’s like “educate the orphan” and “bury the dead” have great significance in the history of Odd Fellowship, and historically were remarkable achievements in past ages when society had many orphans and many folks who died who had no way to be respectfully buried. But let’s face it. Today there are very, very few orphans in America, and virtually every county has a public guardian who provides for indigent burials. We need to “evolve” these ancient admonitions to the present age – for example, society is filled with foster children (and young adults who have recently “graduated” from the foster system) – we can “evolve” the concept of “educate the orphan” to “help foster children and children in need.” This is just one example (of many) of the modernization in which our Order must engage. If we have the courage to talk about it and actually deal with it.
The great teachings of our Order – exemplified in our degrees – are timeless. But beyond that, I submit that very, very few new members join this Order because they want to wear regalia or learn the secret grip and passwords. The vast majority of new members (and potential new members) want to join because this Order is a fraternity that offers social contact and friendships, and because our Lodges can do good works in our society and in our communities. Accordingly, those Lodges that actively develop social activities and functions for the membership, and those Lodges that are active in helping local charities and community groups (as well as Odd Fellows’ charities) will attract the young blood we need and will flourish and grow. Those Lodges that continue to sit behind closed doors and do little more than conduct formal meetings (with an occasional potluck) will continue to diminish as members pass on. Quoting another veteran from the article this morning: “We don’t have time to sit in three meetings every month.”
Food for thought.
F – L – T
The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, a fixture in Davis since 1870, has ended the 2018 year contributing over $43,000 to various community and charitable groups and individuals in need, the Lodge announced today. “This year continues a long history and tradition of good community works by the Odd Fellows in Davis,” said long-time Odd Fellow, Trustee of the Odd Fellows Lodge, and President of the Hall Association Dave Rosenberg.
“The Lodge has 300 members, making it the largest Odd Fellows Lodge in California and the United States, and the members dedicate themselves to community support and service, as well as fostering a convivial social atmosphere in the Lodge for members”, said Rosenberg. The Lodge primarily does its work through 50 committees, many of which are dedicated to community and charitable support. Said 2018 Noble Grand of the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge James Bledsoe, “We are proud to do our part to support the charitable and community groups that make Davis such a special place.”
In 2018, the following Committees made contributions:
- Odd Fellows Bingo Committee donated $8,857 to 12 community groups: Team Davis, Pioneer School, Davis Parent Nursery School (DPNS), Davis Encampment, NAMI-Yolo, Yolo Hospice, Community and Employment Services, Foster and Kinship Care Program, Yolo County Healthy Aging Alliance, Soroptimists of Davis, Unleashing the Possibilities, and Yolo County SPCA.
- Odd Fellows Community Support Committee donated $4,700 to 13 charitable and community groups: Yolo County Crisis Nursery, Yolo County Elections (Youth Summit), CASA, YCCC, the Mexican-American Concilio, Davis Phoenix Coalition (anti-bullying campaign), Davis Community Meals and Housing, Pine Tree Gardens, Newspapers in Education, Davis FFA Boosters, NAMI Homestead House, Soups On, Huntsman Cancer Foundation. In addition, the Community Support Committee co-hosted events at the Lodge on behalf of Patwin PTA, Birch Lane PTA, Korematsu PTO, the Davis Music Fest and the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance.
- Team Bald-Fellows raised and contributed $4,524 for research combating children’s cancer.
- The Breakfast with Santa Committee contributed $3,325 to scholarships at King High School in Davis, and to provide support to young adults who have aged out of the foster care support system.
- The Odd Fellows Theatre Committee contributed $2,500 to support CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) to assist children in court.
- Odd Fellow Music Committee through its monthly “Thursday Live!” concerts contributed $1,200 to the Davis Encampment to send kids to summer camp or another summer experience, and another $1,000 to KDRT, the UCD campus radio station.
- Odd Fellows Chocolate Festival contributed $1,000 to the Davis Encampment.
- Odd Fellows Taste of Davis contributed $1,000 to Meals on Wheels.
- Davis Odd Fellows Charities, Inc. (a 501(c)(3) entity of the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge) funded two scholarships totaling $15,000, benefiting two young adults who were formerly foster children.
The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge was instituted and chartered in 1870, and is presently located at 415 Second Street, in Downtown Davis. It is a fraternal order which traces its history back to England. The Odd Fellows (known officially as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows) is identified by its three intertwined links: Friendship, Love, Truth. The Davis Lodge membership is almost equally divided between men and women, and members range in age from 17 to 97. The Lodge is known for organizing and hosting major community events such as Taste of Davis, Breakfast with Santa, Breakfast with the Bunny, Second Sunday Bingo at the Lodge, the Davis Chocolate Festival, the Odd Fellows New Year’s Eve Party, Thursday Live music at the Lodge, the Picnic Day Pancake Breakfast, and many more. Information on the Davis Lodge can be obtained at www.davislodge.org.
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Happy anniversary, DMC. DMC was founded in December 2010. So, December 2018 marks the Eighth Anniversary of the start of “Dedicated Members for Change” and the eighth year for this DMC Newsletter. We are dedicated members who support a progressive, inclusive and modern vision for IOOF.
As regular readers of this newsletter know, the main purpose of DMC is to re-focus Odd Fellowship on the critical need for new members. A continuous flow of new members is the existential requirement of a fraternal order. With a steady influx of new members, a fraternal Lodge has the potential to continuous “life” for hundreds of years. On the other hand, if a generation of new members is skipped, the Lodge will find itself in trouble; and if two generations of new members are skipped, the Lodge will have essentially written out its death warrant.
So, “membership, membership, membership”, has been the refrain and rallying cry by DMC since its inception. And, we don’t just sound the alarm and blow the horn. We try to provide practical and proven methodologies to achieve membership growth. It doesn’t do much good to just talk the talk; we have to walk the walk. The constant drumbeat has worked in California and in a few other jurisdictions. These jurisdictions have reversed the trend of declines in membership, and they are showing growth. The fact that there are Lodges that are growing belies the notion that fraternal orders are no longer relevant in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, most Lodges in our Order have grown complacent and “satisfied” with the status quo. Those Lodges like things just the way they are. That attitude may be just dandy for the current members, but it is a mind-set that is fatal to the future of that Lodge. Well, DMC doesn’t give up.
In this week’s DMC Newsletter, I’m going to let you in on a little “secret”. I’m going to discuss one of the single best methods to bring new members into a Lodge.
We have used this method in my own Lodge – Davis #169 – and it works. I guarantee that, in some form, it will work for your Lodge. We call it “Club Night at the Lodge” and here’s how it works: Once a week, every week, we schedule “Club Night at the Lodge” at our Lodge Hall. We have chosen Thursdays. These gatherings are not Lodge meetings (we have two Lodge meetings each month, one formal and one social, which are separate and apart from our “Club Nights at the Lodge.” We start Club Night at 5:30 p.m. and we wrap it up at 8:00 p.m. Members are welcome to drop in and to bring family and friends, and potential new members. One of our members plays the piano to provide some background music, the bar is open (no host) with special reduced prices for participants, we have 100-piece jigsaw puzzles on the tables, and dinner is available after 6 p.m. for those who want it for $7 per person. Around 6:30 p.m. one of our members takes on the role of “trivia master” and we play 3 quick rounds of trivia (with prizes like cookies). Thursday nights are very well attended and very popular.
Club Night at the Lodge accomplishes the following purposes:
1. It is a great social event for the members and their families. Members often bring their spouses, and even children. There is plenty of time socialize and catch up with one another. A fraternal order, after all, should include a social element. Members really look forward to this event every week. Even trivia has a social element because we play by table and so the folks sitting around a table confer with each other in the game. From time to time, we will even celebrate a member’s birthday or anniversary.
2. There is essentially no cost to the Lodge for hosting this event because the attendees pay for the drinks and the dinner.
3. However, the most important element of this event is that it opens the Lodge up to potential new members. Members of the Lodge feel free to bring potential new members to “Club Night at the Lodge”. These potential applicants can meet Lodge members, tour the Lodge Hall, and speak to a member of the Membership Committee about Odd Fellowship and about what the Lodge does for the members and for the community. And it works. In our Lodge, literally dozens of applicants have come to us through the doorway of “Club Night at the Lodge.”
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
The interactions between the officers of the Odd Fellows Lodge and their duties are not always clear-cut and precise. For a lodge to be successful all elected officers must cooperate and assist one another in meeting the goals of the lodge and for the membership.
After many years of either, observing and performing the duties of all positions at one time or another, I have learned that the written duties contained within the Odd Fellow codes and bylaws do not cover all situations. Trustees and their duties should coincide with those of the other officers, too.
All should know the functions and tasks performed by the other officers in the lodge. It is extremely important that officers do not become so rigid or complacent in their duties, because I guarantee you, issues shall arise, unexpectedly.
The new Noble Grand is given many responsibilities in the Odd Fellows Lodge, but does the Noble Grand really understand the duties and responsibilities of all the officers? The Noble Grand is responsible for all the Rituals to be up-to-date and accounted for after each meeting. The Noble Grand is responsible for the codes and bylaw books to be updated and available in the meetings. The Noble Grand must have a grasp of parliamentary procedure to conduct a proper meeting. He or she deals with the not only the Ritual aspects, but the business of the lodge. More often than not, the Noble Grand does not have a grasp of all the responsibilities he or she must know. The Noble Grand must rely on the other officers and the Past Grands of the lodge.
One area not covered by Odd Fellow code or bylaws: Governmental requirements. Who files the 990 forms or state tax forms, files electronically, etc.? Who submits the 1099 form for those officers/members who receives $600.00 or more for a given year? Who submits the Agent of Service form? Who handles the many other possible government requirements?
All of these occur in a given year. If a lodge is operating legitimately, then all of these tasks are being completed by the lodge. Is this yet another task we ask of the Noble Grand to oversee?
Secretaries have their hands full, too. The annual per capita and financial forms come to the Secretary of the Lodge, but the financial report is not the task of the Secretary to complete. These reports are challenging reports for any one officer to complete. The Noble Grand is responsible for the completion of these reports; however, the work must be done by all the desk officers. Other members are required to sign the documents. For a Noble Grand, this could be a daunting task. If the Secretary is new to the office, then that task is difficult as well. Every officer should be familiar with each other’s tasks. It is not a requirement, but it is helpful to know who works on each required form.
A successful lodge employs the assistance of the trustees in some of these listed tasks. Trustees are usually Past Grands, longtime members, who handle the investments of the lodge, and sometimes oversee the interaction of the Finance Committee and the Treasurer. A lodge lacking trustees is most likely a struggling lodge.
Although all of this seems complex, it is easily handled with a Noble Grand willing to learn and to receive guidance from experienced members of the same lodge. Those members know the corporate memory of the lodge and can assist the Noble Grand as well as other officers.
What if your lodge, or a member, wish to change the ritual or the code? This knowledge comes experience, as well as following the guidelines or the code book. Do not always rely on one member to recite the code; learn to read the code. Then, ensure others read the code. (A warning: Use the code to encourage members, rather than discourage members.)
Any member desiring to become an officer in the lodge, is required to become familiar with the duties associated with a specific office. Those duties are located in the ritual. They are detailed in the code book. OPEN THE BOOKS!
In some jurisdictions, seminars, district meetings, Grand Instructors, and proactive District Deputies are available for assistance. A lodge may be fortunate to have a past officer who has experience in many areas mention here. Do not be embarrassed or shy about seeking advice and knowledge. All officers must work with each other to provide a positive atmosphere inside the Odd Fellows lodge room.
Peter V. Sellars
Give the gift of life this holiday season with the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge Holiday Blood Drive. Blood to be collected by Vitalant (formerly Blood Source)
Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Time: 1pm – 6pm
Location: Inside the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second Street, Davis, CA 95616
Please schedule your appointment online by visiting www.bloodsource.org/drives and enter the mobile code M776
Questions? Contact Jim Bledsoe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a thank you, donors will receive a promo code $10 Fandango Movie Voucher.
Things to bring: Please bring a photo ID.
Please eat and drink plenty of fluids before donating.
Eligibility Questions call: 1-877-258-4825