When I set out to write a new article, my goal is always to get our members thinking! I believe that far too often we allow our thinking to get confined to local lodge issues and local community needs and this causes us to limit our scope. By sharing with you my insights and thoughts on a scale of the somewhat bigger, I hope that we can expand our horizons and develop new solutions to the issues that affect our lodges. It is gratifying to me to be thanked for my articles by our members, but what I find most gratifying is when a member tells me that they implemented a thought or idea in their lodge and they share with me the results! It is in this spirit of seeking continuous improvement that I share with you a few of my latest thoughts and ideas!
At our recent national convention in Indianapolis, the Florida Elks were honored to receive two very flattering mentions. The first was from our national president, John Amen, who remarked at our Florida Dinner that in his travels to all 50 states this past year, the Florida Elks were by far the best state in Elkdom. His exact quote was that we were at the “pinnacle” of leading change in all of Elkdom! The second honor came from Rick Gathen, the Grand Lodge Membership/Public Relations Manager, who recognized Florida for being the most improved state in all of Elkdom for membership after the dramatic turnaround in our membership loss wherein we slowed our annual loss from -3.77% to -0.37%! These are great honors indeed from men who are in the know, and many thanks go to all our members who have worked so hard for us to earn them!
Should you ever need confirmation that you belong to THE BEST state association in all of Elkdom, you have it now. Not to rain on the parade here, but what is it going to take for us to remain on top? It has been a long and slow grind to get here. Do we have what it takes to stay?
So close! That’s right; we were only 195 new members short of a statewide membership gain! That’s a loss of just 0.35%, the smallest loss we have had since 1991! Congratulations to everyone who helped contribute to this success and a success it was indeed! We start the year 55,865 members strong!
Back in February 2010, then Grand Exalted Ruler, Jim Nicholson, challenged our state to “throw some money” at addressing our membership losses, a membership loss trend that began in 1990. Inspired by the late Dave Vergason, PSP, our association’s staff was already underway developing a strategy after watching our membership fall from a high of 93,213 members in 1990 to 67,151 members that year. Subsequently, that same year we had our largest ever recorded loss in membership of 5.42% which took us down to 63,512 members. Shortly thereafter the FSEA made it a priority to find out how and why we were losing members and we set a goal to reverse this destructive trend.
I am often surprised at the turnover we continue to have in our Lodges in the office of Exalted Ruler and Lodge Secretary. Arguably the two most important leadership positions in a Lodge, far too many are quitting in the middle of the year and oftentimes for reasons not related to health, work or family. For many years, this question was asked of Exalted Rulers at the state annual officer training seminar: How many of you are here because you think you are doing your Lodge a favor? In recent years we have had to stop asking that question because too many Exalted Rulers were responding in the affirmative. In an earlier article I wrote about the game being played in many of our Lodges where one faction takes over the Lodge and their detractors sit patiently on the sidelines awaiting the next elections. They then bring legions of members in to sway the vote and overthrow the sitting administration. This game goes back and forth, year after year, and then we wonder why the Lodge never moves forward. It is hoped that by members simply recognizing the game and how it is played that a strategy can be implemented to prevent this from happening this year!