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Lodge website

Tips for your website

Your July checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on masonichome.org

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Lodge website

Last year, Chico-Leland Stanford Lodge No. 111 took home the Lodge Communications Award for Best Website. It was the result of a comprehensive redesign that began in 2011. Since the launch of the new chicofreemasons.org, community awareness is up, more prospects are contacting the lodge, and members have a range of new tools at their fingertips.

Brother Dean Fairbanks explains.

Process
In 2011, we launched a pilot website using WordPress to test new design elements. We studied design and content from more than 70 lodge websites in California, the U.S., and the United Kingdom. We defined two main priorities: striking design (images, narrative, and layout), and high functionality (useful tools and features). We brought in a professional web designer to build the site.

Our goals

  • Educate the public about Freemasonry and allied organizations
  • Intrigue and inform prospects
  • Provide tools for members
  • Showcase our facility for public event rental
  • Offer every visitor – member, prospect, or general public – reasons to come back

Features

  • Simple, clean design with strong imagery, an intuitive table of contents, flowing short narrative, and calls to action on every page
  • Responsive design for computer, tablet, and mobile viewing
  • Online dues payment, and ability to donate to lodge and Grand Lodge charities
  • Lodge news blog automatically posts stories to lodge Facebook page, lodge app, and via Mailchimp email to all lodge members
  • Interactive Google calendar integrated with lodge app
  • Contact forms, including an information request and facility rental request form
  • PDF version of current Trestleboard and archives from past year, open to the public

Analytics
The website averages about 300 unique visitors per month. We use Google Analytics and internal analytics built into the web platform to better understand our audience, and how they interact with the site.

  • We monitor how a user finds us: origination locations, search tools, and search keywords.
  • We keep tabs on which pages are most visited, and update content to keep them fresh for repeat visitors.
  • We notice which news stories are popular and look for other opportunities to feature similar content and themes.
  • To get a sense of who we’re serving, we look at the percentage of visitors who use home computers versus smartphones.

Results
We’ve received very positive feedback from our members, the public, and even other lodges. We were especially honored to win a 2016 Lodge Communications Award. Three major outcomes from the renovated site are:

  • More interaction with our members, which has led to increased attendance at monthly dinner and stated meeting
  • Increase in prospects, especially younger men from the local community college and California State University, Chico
  • We notice which news stories are popular and look for other opportunities to feature similar content and themes.
  • Significant boost in facility rentals

Take time to define your website goals and think about the experience you want to offer. Strong images and a cohesive narrative draw in prospects and help tell the story of Masonry and your lodge. Features like a blog, online dues payment, and integration with the lodge app help your members connect in a digital world.

Check out Chico-Leland Stanford Lodge’s website at chicofreemasons.org.

For more information, contact Dean Fairbanks.

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Tips for your website

A priority of the 2020 Fraternity Plan is to provide a highly rewarding member experience. Connecting online is a big piece of the puzzle. Here are tips for your lodge website.

Need help? Use the Grand Lodge website template. Grand Lodge will set up the website, pay for hosting, and train you on how to maintain it.

Your website is the “digital front door” for your lodge, so at the minimum, your website should be three things: inviting, informative, and current. It should reflect the personality of the lodge through images and text to peak the interest of potential prospects. Content doesn’t have to change a lot to be effective – and the more “evergreen” the text is, the less you have to maintain it.

  • Use bright, striking photos of member activities, your lodge building, or Masonic regalia that speaks to your audience.
  • Put some theater into it. These degrees are based on situations that happened a long time ago, so try to place yourself in that era. Add character to it using inflection and tone of voice. Make it interesting, so the candidate will pay attention.
  • Describe your lodge’s mission and identity, so prospects understand what you do, and why they should join your lodge. Share a brief history of your lodge in the community, including any notable members or buildings.
  • Devote space to information about the greater fraternity, using language from Discover Masonry.
  • Use your Facebook feed to share current events and news about your lodge. Facebook code can now be easily embedded into your website, and it stays updated as you update your Facebook. Include community partnerships, signature events, and projects like scholarships or fundraisers.
  • Copy language from or link to freemason.org’s Applying page.
  • Include the lodge email, phone number, address, and visiting hours in the footer or on a clearly marked page.
  • Build a contact form into the website so visitors have an immediate way to get in touch.
  • Link to your lodge’s social media pages, and to other California Freemasonry sites such as freemason.org, Masons of California on Facebook, Masonic Homes of California, and the Masonic Center for Youth and Families.

News and events

  • Use a blog to post a short newsworthy story every week or two: Market an upcoming event, repurpose an appropriate Masonic education lesson, or share success stories from other lodges and fraternal orders in the area.
  • Repurpose content from freemason.org’s News or California Freemason magazine.
  • Use the Grand Lodge RSS feed to pull stories automatically into your website. Access the feed at http://blog.wpfreemason.net/feed/ and contact communications@freemason.org with any questions.
  • Keep an updated calendar, highlighting events open to families and the public.
  • Post current and past Trestleboards for general viewing.

Tools

  • Offer online dues payment and a way to donate to lodge and Grand Lodge charities.
  • If you rent your lodge to the community, automate the availability calendar, reservation request form, and payment options.
  • Integrate the calendar with Grand Lodge’s lodge app.

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Your July checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your July checklist.

Executive Committee

  • Make plans to attend the 2017 Lodge Management Certification Program.
  • Continue tracking officer giving to the Annual Fund, with officers setting an example through meaningful gifts that represent each officer’s capability as well as their commitment to our charitable programs.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Identify and approach members for 2018 open elected and appointed officer positions.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2018 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set calendar for 2018 and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing 2018 budget.
  • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.

Secretary

Treasurer

  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February).
  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88.
  • Begin preparing semi-annual financial report, due in August.

Hall Association

  • Begin preparing semi-annual report, due in August.

Questions? Contact Member Services at memberservices@freemason.org or (415) 776-7000.

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For your Trestleboard

The Masonic Home at Union City now offers short-stay rehabilitative care following surgery, illness, or injury. Use this ad to inform your lodge, plus an additional reminder.

This month:
Transitions Short-Stay Rehabilitative Care
Age Successfully at Acacia Creek
Masons4Mitts

Share in your Trestleboard.

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Find it on masonichome.org

Several times a year, form a “handyman team” to assist elder members or widows with yard cleanup and small home repairs.

This Service Project Phone Script will help you explain the project to elder members and widows, and find out if they have household repairs they need help with.

Whether or not it leads to a service project, your call is a valuable act of outreach.

Have you explored the all-new masonichome.org yet? The website is redesigned and expanded, and now includes downloadable resources like this one. Visit now.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked your favorite way to stay in touch with your lodge. Of those that responded:

42% - Email
23% - Lodge App
15% - Facebook
6% - Phone call
6% - Texting
2% - Twitter
6% - Other

When asked what other ways your lodge communicates, about 69 percent said their lodge regularly communicates by email. Other popular communication channels include texting, phone calls, and the Lodge App.

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

 

 

Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000

e: memberservices@freemason.org