Last quarter, I wrote an article espousing Five Changes you can Make Today that will Give your Lodge a Fighting Chance! The article hit a nerve with readers as never have I received so many positive comments regarding my suggestions and the “thoughtful insight” into our problems. This quarter, I would like to continue that theme by adding a couple more items to the list.
Here are the five from the last article:
- Get a handle on the lodge finances; understand where every penny comes from and where every penny goes.
- Ditch the ER-appointed House Committee and let the elective officers and trustees run the lodge and house.
- Reelect your ER and make service as ER a two-year term or even longer if you find a good one.
- Eliminate all the ancillary meetings; they are burning out the officers and turning away new prospects.
- Adopt a Member Bill of Rights – we must stop the membership revolving door!
To this, I add the following:
- Quit trying to do so much and do fewer things better.
- Stop using the statutes book as the “book of law” (that’s the Bible) and use common sense to solve problems.
- Change the focus from Elks as fundraisers to Elks as everyday people doing extraordinary things!
Quit trying to do so much and do fewer things better. Everyone wants to be a part of a good thing, and fewer things done well go a lot further to attract others. We are all familiar with the elevator pitch: a brief, persuasive speech used to spark interest in what we do. It lasts no longer than a short elevator ride of 20-30 seconds, hence the name. We must each work to craft our elevator pitch, and done right, we will improve our opportunity to grow our membership.
Stop using the statutes book as the “book of law” and use common sense to solve problems. Anyone can interpret most any statute to read the way they want it to read. Most are not lawyers and should quit trying to play one. Statutes remove the role of whims and fancies of a few individuals. They provide framework to our organization and are tools to assist in the management of the lodge. Law is developed around the “reasonable man” theory. We should ask what a reasonable person would do in a situation and guide our actions accordingly in our dealings with our members.
Change the focus from Elks as fundraisers to Elks as everyday people doing extraordinary things! We are fooling ourselves if we think others don’t see us this way. As much as we try to sell new members on the impact we are making on those we help, once they do join, they realize quickly that it’s all about the fundraising, hence number 6 above! Our membership door is revolving because we attract members for all the wrong reasons, chief of which is to be a glorified fundraiser. It might work for a couple years but the fun in fundraising wears off and the member moves on. Our membership chairman has statistics which prove that many of our lapsed members have been members fours years or less. We are burning them out and this is not how to create sustainable membership growth!
Each of us has a why, a “why-did-you-join-the-Elks?” story, but often we don’t share it! Is it because our why is no longer relevant in today’s Elks because of the shift we have made toward it being all about fundraising? What is wrong with just joining to belong – to be a part of something larger and more impactful than just one person? The why is the secret to our membership growth. Our why must be more about social interaction and the impact we have on others and less on bodies to raise the money. Our why must be about working together toward a focused cause! How’s this for the why and not just the what we do?
The Elks are THE premier social/civic/patriotic organization in the country. We are everyday people doing extraordinary things for children, veterans and those less fortunate than ourselves. We are larger than just one person or thing and we are successful because we work well together. We work hard, we play hard, and we maintain lodge buildings where we meet, socialize and plan our activities. We are all about our communities and want to be known as the place the community goes for volunteers.
Would you like to belong? I would love to invite you to our lodge to learn more!
Officer elections occur in February and the decisions made could be the difference between success or failure. Don’t just use the current job descriptions for officers unless you are one of those extremely rare lodges that is excelling on all fronts (membership, financial, community impact). Inform your members what offices are open and about the obligation required. Make sure your candidates want to move up and not just do the lodge a favor. Don’t just look for robots to those in charge. Seek self-starter, free-thinking members with new ideas and give them the freedom and latitude to work in the lodge. A lodge is not one person; it is all members represented by elected officers. The lodge is no place for selfishness, arrogance or self-promotion. We must get rid of everything but selfless, humane actions in service of those in need, our communities and our fellow members. We must stop any insanity and focus on saving this organization.
My aim in these articles is to inform, educate and instill a sense of responsibility in our success. I do this by sometimes offering ideas that are not your normal run-of-the-mill thoughts and ideas. We are not perfect and sometimes we have to look at ourselves as others see us before we realize the need to improve. So, how am I doing?
Let me know what you think! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.