Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Technology in the lodge

HOW-TO: Use technology to engage members

Secretary special: Tips for going mobile

Remember your first baseball glove?

Resources

In Your Inbox

Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Technology in the lodge

Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, in historic San Luis Obispo (SLO-town, as some refer to it), King David’s Lodge No. 209 is in the midst of transition.

Master M. Robert Bettencourt orients himself squarely in the middle. He’s somewhere between long-time members and the growing ranks of new, younger members - many of whom, provoked by Dan Brown’s "The Lost Symbol," found the lodge online.

Much as technology has driven this transition, it’s also eased it. Bettencourt and Secretary George Brown report how.

Background: Our lodge has 180 members and is growing. Over the past few years, young men in the community have begun joining. We’ve relied on technology to attract and keep new members, and to ease administrative duties.

Administrative advancements

  • Going digital: Most of our "paperwork" has been digitized, which makes it easy to locate and update, from financial management to event planning. We use a document scanner to digitize old hard copies.
  • Online access: We have high-speed DSL Internet in the lodge, plus two Wi-Fi networks.
  • Lines of communication: Our Trestleboard is electronic. We also use eblasts, conference calls, and virtual presentations.
  • Fill in the blank: We developed digital templates for agendas and minutes. What was once tedious now takes very little time.
  • Big screen presentations: We have a lodge computer, projector, and drop-down projector screen, so we can show presentations on the big screen. That’s how we completed our last budget approval. We also use it for Masonic education.
  • Getting on the cloud: At the moment, most document sharing is via email attachments. We are looking at alternatives, including cloud (online) storage.
  • Social media: We joined Facebook this June.
  • Low, medium, and high-tech: A small number of brothers are not on the Web, and we continue to serve them with hard copies. Once we have a prospect’s info, we reach out in three ways: telephone, email, and U.S. mail.

Website reboot

  • Go pro: In 2009 we redesigned our website, slomasons.com. We hired a professional to transfer the files.
  • Make it memorable: It’s helpful to have a short, catchy URL to direct people to when they ask about Masonry.
  • Comprehensive content: The site includes our lodge mission and vision statements, lodge history, district directory, calendar, information about Freemasonry, and much more.
  • Keep it current: We update the calendar and news announcements every month.
  • TIP: Show your community that, although Freemasonry has some secrets, it is not a secret society. Slomasons.com states: “The contents of this website may be read by, and discussed with, any person interested in Freemasonry.”

Top tech tool

  • Brown says: iMember. It’s a secretary’s dream. There are almost no paper reports, and the member database info is accurate and timely. Grand Lodge continues to make improvements.
  • Bettencourt says: The website. More young men would join the fraternity if they knew a little more about us. The website has been that extra push for our new guys.

Benefits

  • Younger members appreciate social media and easy, immediate access to the lodge online.
  • Officers and committee members use their time more effectively.
  • Frequent communications via eblast and Facebook keep members informed.
  • We get at least one email or phone call a month from prospects who find us online.

We will host our second-ever On The Level event in August, and are promoting it on the radio and in the newspaper. As our lodge continues to grow and our average age continues to drop, we’ll use technology to stay organized, connected, and current.

For more information, contact Master Robert Bettencourt or Secretary George Brown.

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HOW-TO: Use techonolgy to engage members

A major strategic priority is to enhance the membership experience. That can boil down to whether members feel included, not to mention interested, in the lodge.

Here are 14 tech tactics for member engagement (plus a few tried and true ones, for good measure).

Facebook and Twitter

  • Ask a question or take a poll: What’s your favorite Masonic symbol?
  • Ask for a show of hands: Who else is tuning into the Olympics this week?
  • Request member photos for your Facebook timeline or lodge website.
  • Post a funny photo (get permission first from anyone pictured) and challenge members to create the best caption.
  • Kick off a Masonic trivia contest.
  • Post two Masonic quotes, and ask members to vote on their favorite.
  • Repost appropriate member messages.
  • Note: Consider any of the above for inclusion in your Trestleboard. Polls and contests will work best if your Trestleboard is electronic, so members can immediately email their response. Print results in the following issue.

Send a weekly electronic newsletter

  • If you don’t already have an eblast platform, try a low-cost service like mailchimp.com.
  • Keep it short and simple. For example, the entire newsletter might consist of:
    • That week’s district calendar of events
    • A blurb highlighting one special event or announcement
    • One photo, quote, or bit of trivia
  • Create a template for convenient (and quick) weekly updates.
  • Give members an option to unsubscribe.

More uses for email

  • Send a member survey.
  • If the lodge accomplished a fundraising goal or received community recognition, send a special email. (And then post a sentence or two on your lodge website, Facebook, and Twitter.)
  • Share newspaper coverage.
  • Send an eblast or Trestleboard article with this month’s Resource, a guide to Grand Lodge’s online and mobile communications.

Have members opt in for text messages

  • Send a final push for attendance at lodge events.
  • Remind members about fundraising and other deadlines.

When it calls for something special

  • Did a member go above and beyond for the lodge? Put a thank-you in writing, even if it’s just a few sentences.
  • If a member hasn’t attended lodge in a while, pick up the phone. It shows you care enough to reach beyond email or text.
Have we forgotten something? Please email suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Use technology to engage members in the subject line.

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Secretary special: Tips for going mobile

According to a study last year, seven out of every 10 people in the U.S. are online. Four out of 10 have a smartphone, a number that’s doubled in just the past five years.

In other words, the world is going mobile. Lodges are, too.

That’s good news for secretaries. Going mobile eliminates paperwork, increases transparency, and can give you instant access to information.

Tools for a mobile lodge

  • Laptop and Internet: For Web access anywhere in the building, install Wi-Fi.
  • Scanner: See the Canon CanoScan LiDE210, Brother DSMobile Scanner (DS-600), or VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand.
  • Digital writing pad/tablet: Consider the Acecad DigiMemo 692, Solidtek DigiMemo 692, or the iClooly Multi-Touch Pen for iPad and iPhone.
  • Software: Basics include Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel) and Adobe Acrobat.
  • Mobile apps: Consider EZInvoice or Invoice2Go, Templates for Pages, CoolWriter HD, Evernote, and Documents2Go.

Other ways to go mobile

  • Use cloud storage (online storage) so lodge leaders can access files anywhere, 24/7. For now, Google Docs is the most popular platform. But stay tuned: Cloud storage is currently under development for the freemason.org Member Center.
  • At meetings, keep the lodge laptop handy (and/or mobile devices, if your lodge uses cloud storage) to access documents. Use a digital writing pad to take notes.
This resource is adapted from “The Mobile Secretary,” presented at the 2012 Secretaries and Treasurers Retreats.

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Remember your first baseball glove?

In 2008 the Giants Community Fund was voted the best sports-related charity among all major professional sports in the country. Through local baseball leagues, its Junior Giants program teaches confidence, integrity, leadership, and teamwork to some 20,000 at-risk youth in California, Nevada, and Oregon.

Currently, about half of these Junior Giants youths don’t have their own baseball glove. This year’s goal for Masons4Mitts is to provide 2,500 mitts, the equivalent of a $20 donation from one out of every four Northern California Masons. Once again, regional teams are competing to fund the most mitts.

Each mitt, emblazoned with the Masons of California logo, represents our commitment to helping the community in a thoughtful, meaningful way.

The 2012 Masons4Mitts campaign continues until Sep. 17. Friends, family, and all members of the Masonic community are encouraged to contribute.

Support your team at Masons4mitts.org.

Our 2010-15 strategic plan focuses on philanthropy as a priority area, which means increasing community involvement and public awareness of the fraternity.

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Resources

In honor of this month’s technology theme, we’re dedicating the Resources section to online and mobile tools for California Masons.

Whether you’re reading The Leader on your phone, computer, or tablet, you’re already connecting with this ancient fraternity in a distinctly modern way. Remind your members that they can, too.

This month: Ad: Join the online conversation

Print and post this informational ad at lodge, or include it in your Trestleboard or on your lodge website.

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In Your Inbox

Accounting & Reporting Solutions Project Plan
The Accounting & Reporting Solutions Project Plan was electronically distributed to all lodges on August 2. The project plan presents an overview of the initiative to develop a standardized accounting and reporting solution for lodges and hall associations, including background information about the plan’s development, pricing, and a timeline for the implementation. Be sure to share this important information with your lodge’s leadership team.

Masonic Leadership Survey
In response to the 2010-2015 strategic priority to strengthen our current leaders and cultivate new ones, Grand Lodge will distribute a Masonic Leadership Survey to all members in the coming weeks. Your lodge’s feedback will assist us as we implement training programs that meet your leadership development needs. All members are asked to participate; please look for the emailed survey and encourage your lodge members to contribute their thoughts.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has a recorded lodge history. Of the 151 who responded:

62% - Yes
16% - No
22% - Don't know

About 45 percent of lodge histories include photos; nine percent include video; and six percent include oral histories.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

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Grand Lodge of California
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p: (415) 776-7000

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