THE NEED TO PROMOTE THE ODD FELLOWS & REBEKAHS
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, as an entire Order must start promoting itself if it intends on a continued existence. Promotional campaigns bring attention to groups and awareness to various causes. Promotional events can bring pride to a membership and gain support from a community. Promotional ideas must continually evolve and fit the interests of those who view the Odd Fellows from the outside – the non-members.
Today, we look back on promotional programs the Order has used over the past decade or more. There is no doubt these were good ideas at the time, but our Order has fallen short in evolving with new ideas and new promotional events. We have the Arthritis Foundation, SOS Village in Cambodia, Visual Research, and a couple of others. That is all we have to promote ourselves from the promotional programs of the Sovereign Grand Lodge. There has been no new ideas presented, or at least accepted. Although these are very worthy causes, do you see these are good promotional programs to attract attention to our Order?
Right now, we have been threatened with having our dues increased – yes, threatened, as this is what the language of the resolution translates into, with regard to the increase of dues. If we do not show growth as a whole in this Order, our dues increase by $5.00 next year and again the following year. Call it what you wish, but this is a threat of a dues increase. Again, ask yourselves, “Are these good promotional programs to attract attention to our Order?” The increase in dues is not a good promotional plan for the Order.
Brothers and Sisters, not only do we need Sovereign Grand Lodge to give us the tools to meet its demand of increasing the membership by improving upon the promotional programs, we need our own Grand Lodges and Lodges to establish promotional events!
As businesses, which we are defined as by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as being 501c(8)s, having exempt statuses, we are permitted to conduct promotional events and programs to attract potential members and create support for our organization. A business must promote itself if it is to survive. Too many members refuse to recognize their lodges as businesses or know they may set promotional goals.
What kinds of promotional events or ideas are available to our lodges? There are numerous ideas. Off the top of one’s head: Support a youth team, and provide shirts that read, “Odd Fellows & Rebekahs.” Purchase promotional items with the name “Odd Fellows & Rebekahs” on each items and give away at a local county fair, event, etc. Participate in a local county fair or march in a local town and city parade carrying a banner that reads, “Odd Fellows & Rebekahs;” these are promotional events.
Collaborate with other organizations, which are doing good works, such as Cancer Awareness, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and other charitable groups. Make the public aware that the “Odd Fellows & Rebekahs” strongly support these kinds of groups – and you have a wonderful promotional. There are many ideas for promotional events.
A warning, stay away from political support groups, supporting candidates, and aligning with any religious groups, such as raising money for these kinds of entities, as our tax-exempt classification does not allow for these kinds of promotions.
Perhaps one of the best opportunities for a promotional event presented itself in late September, 2017, when two members of the Odd Fellows (brother Bo Huang of Yerba Buena Lodge #15), one who works for Samsung Development in Silicon Valley, listened to a guest speaker talk about his own accomplishments and the cause he supports. The speaker was the world renowned Robert Swan, who was the first man to walk to the North and South Poles. He was planning another trip and promoting renewable energy in his presentation.
Sister Bonnie Sellars, who attended this event with brother Bo, met Robert Swan after the presentation came up with an idea for a promotional for the entire Order. They spoke about the Odd Fellows. She asked if he could take a patch to the South Pole on his next expedition and in exchange, we would ask for support for his 2041 Foundation, Inc. from the lodges and members. He was happy to do it for the Order and offered to take a picture of himself with the “Odd Fellows & Rebekahs” patch.
Subsequently, several articles shall be written of the event, postcards of the patch shall be printed, and sharing of the event with non-members are part of the promotional. Perhaps we have found a candidate for the SGL’s Honorary Member recognition, which it has not awarded for years.
We received limited support for the idea, but came up with an adequate amount of money to contribute to the 2041 Foundation, Inc. and its upcoming expedition to the South Pole. During this time, we discovered that far too many lodges do not have any promotional programs. Other lodges did not see the advantage of a promotional event or how it related to gaining the awareness of the public or creating potential members.
A special patch was embroidered adding the words, “South Pole” on the “Odd Fellows & Rebekahs” three-link patch, and then sent to Robert Swan, who shall carry this with him on the 600-mile trek across the Antarctica. Robert Swan has been received numerous awards and recognition, including being awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in 1995.
So, you see, ideas for promotional events may come from every place. The aforementioned idea is just one example of a promotional. We, as an Order, must embrace those promotional ideas that will shed a positive light upon our lodges. We need to make the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs more dynamic and appealing to our communities.
Peter V. Sellars
PGM / PGP