Economic pressures on our lodges are causing some to stray dangerously from our longstanding governing principles and already those actions are increasing state and federal scrutiny on our lodge business practices. These aberrations are concerning and might one day lead to disciplinary action by the Grand Lodge or even worse, the loss of the lodge’s charter.
Many years have passed since the Elks founding in 1885 and our governance has been upheld ever since. To many, the rules by which we operate our lodges seem outdated, and that has made it easy for the uninformed to steer the lodge down a dangerous path. Observed and followed, the Grand Lodge model has withstood the test of time and will continue to because of its strong foundation and the order’s willingness to adapt to social change.
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:
To this, I add the following:
Membership in the Florida Elks peaked in 1990 at 93,213 members. Twenty-nine years later our membership has fallen almost 40% and stands at 55,285. In 1990 we had 127 lodges today we have 95. Of the 16 lodges added since 1990 only seven remain as stand-alone lodges, the other nine were forced to merge or have someone merge with them to survive. Since 1990 we have lost 47 lodges. In 29 years we have eked-out four very small membership gains, and each was erased the following year. These statistics are reflected in the Elks nationally and in fraternal/service organizations the country over. So, what have we learned from all of this? Will the 30th year since our membership peaked be a repeat of the same? Or, will 2019 be the year of the turnaround?
Spring is in the air and a new lodge year has begun! The officers have been trained and installed and the year ahead remains a blank manuscript with the story yet to be written! So, what will the story of your lodge be? Will it be the equivalent of “steady as she goes?” Will you be singing the song “We’re in the Money?” Or, are there “storm clouds on the horizon?” One thing is for sure; the lodge is headed somewhere and regardless of where that is, the path taken to get there will make all the difference!
There’s a commercial running on television right now promoting Beaches and their all-inclusive resort vacations. The music in the commercial comes from a song by Erin Bowman titled “Good Time Good Life.” In the refrain, she sings “they’re all about a good time, you’re all about a good life.” Every time she sings “good time,” the pictures on the screen are of kids having fun, and every time she sings “good life,” the pictures are of parents enjoying their good life! What better message to convey about a family vacation than good times for a good life!
Has anyone noticed just how much technology has creeped into our lives these days? I sure have, and I have also noticed how much technology has creeped into our Elks lodges! Think about it. The Secretary manages membership and dues through a computer program (CLMS), the Treasurer keeps the books through a computer program (usually QuickBooks), the bar and restaurant sales and inventories are managed through some sort of point of sale (POS) program, and on and on!
Fortunately, I am young enough to have the resolve to embrace technology and wonder how I lived without it! On the other hand, I am old enough to remember my many years as a Lodge Secretary and remember when membership and dues tracking were done on ledger cards and when the Treasurer actually reconciled the checkbook by hand!