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BEST PRACTICE: Enhancing the member experience online

HOW-TO: Improve your lodge website

MCYAF opens

The support you'll need, a couple clicks away

Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Enhancing the memeber experience online

In the Masons of California strategic plan for 2010-2015, one key priority is to enhance the overall quality of the membership experience. That’s a broad topic, but it starts with knowing your members.

Peninsula Lodge No. 168 went online to enhance their members’ experience. They devoted a special section of their website to a common interest: Masonic travel in other states and countries.

Background
Peninsula Lodge in San Carlos has 200 members and too many airline miles to count. A few years ago, Past Master John Follett stumbled upon an old Masonic lodge during a trip through Savannah, Ga., and was inspired to develop a “Travelers Corner” for peninsulamasoniclodge.org.

Now, the Travelers Corner serves as a handy reference for travel to nearly 20 Masonic sites in nine countries. And to feel connected to the worldwide body of Masonry, members can just point and click.

The structure

  • Create a corner: Brothers document their travel experiences with photos and articles from the various lodges and landmarks they’ve seen, offering hints and advice for fellow Masonic travelers.
  • Make it friendly to non-Masons: The page includes a disclaimer explaining that the lodges pictured have been visited by a Peninsula Lodge member; however, Peninsula Lodge itself meets in San Francisco. It’s a helpful clarification for the general public.
  • Dear diary: Peninsula Lodge keeps the format loose. Members write about travel experiences in any way they feel comfortable, including historical information they discovered on the trip or from their own research. Many entries include personal details about the visit - including travel mishaps.
  • Worth a thousand words: The articles are accompanied by high-resolution photos taken by the members. TIP: If you use a stock image, be sure to include the appropriate photo credit.
  • From day-tripping to globe-trotting:The Peninsula Lodge Travelers Corner includes entries from such far-away sites as Singapore, Barcelona, and Finland. But don’t overlook the gems that are closer to home. The page also includes visits to lodges in other states and other parts of California.

The travel guide
For ideas on where to travel, check out

Make your website a (web) destination
Every year, Peninsulamasoniclodge.org gets dozens of inquiries about Masonry, which hail from people around the world. Why all the traffic? Follett says the website appears among the top listings for general web searches of Masonry, thanks to:

  • How long the website has existed
  • The number of pages imbedded in the site
  • The number and placement of good links and relevant content

Benefits
The Travelers Corner is a place to trade stories, which strengthens fellowship between members. It also honors the unique experience of being part of a worldwide fraternity. Even members who aren’t avid travelers can feel ownership in the stories and experiences shared. So while it deepens the connection between members and the lodge, it’s also deepening the connection between members and the larger fraternity.

 

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HOW-TO: Improve your lodge website

Here's a checklist for essential content on your lodge website, broken down by section. This includes info that's relevant for both members and the general public, who may be seeking information about your lodge or Masonry in general.

Think about what you look for when you research an organization or business. Would you find the answers you need on your lodge's website?

Our lodge

  • General info, such as number of members, any community partnerships, annual events, and major initiatives (i.e. By Your Side)
  • Photos of the lodge building and members
  • List of officers
  • Lodge history, including historic facts about the town

What is a Mason

How to join

  • Original text about contacting your lodge, or link to Become a Mason

News

  • Trestleboard
  • Invite youth orders to submit news for a youth corner
  • Brief write-ups of recent or upcoming events

Contact us

  • Lodge e-mail and phone. TIP: Appoint someone to check regularly for messages. Try to respond within 24 hours.
  • Address and cross-streets. TIP: Link to an online map (ex. Google maps).
  • Visiting hours, if someone is available at the lodge during certain days and times
  • Link to Masons of California Facebook page and lodge Facebook page, if you have one

Calendar

  • Lodge event details: Time, who's invited, RSVP info. TIP: Link to summaries in Lodge events section (see below)
  • Fraternity-wide events, such as Annual Communication and the Symposium (see this Save the Dates article for more), including links to registration forms or info on freemason.org
  • TIP: Highlight events that are open to the public.

Lodge events

  • Events in the future: Write a brief summary. List date and time, location, who's invited, if food will be served, cost, and if RSVPs are required. TIP: Promote events that are open to the public
  • Events in the past: Write a brief summary of what you accomplished, number of people that attended, and any special thank-yous. Don't forget pictures!
    TIP: Send it to communications@freemason.org, and it may be selected to appear as Current News on freemason.org.

It’s important to be current, since out-dated calendars or articles give the impression that your lodge is no longer active. Appoint someone to regularly review the website and update information.

Have we forgotten something? E-mail suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Structure your lodge website in the subject line.

 

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Masonic Center for Youth and Families opens

The Masonic Homes of California is pleased to announce the opening of the Masonic Center for Youth and Families (MCYAF). The new center is an expansion of the fraternity's commitment to serve children in a needed, meaningful, and innovative way.

MCYAF provides single-point-of-service care to youth ages 4 to 17 struggling with behavioral, academic, emotional, or social difficulties.

The center is staffed by leaders in various disciplines of mental health, who work as a team to provide testing, assessment, and treatment planning services under one roof. A collaborative process involves the youth, the family, and important figures in the youth's life. This comprehensive, integrated model of care is unavailable anywhere else in the country.

The center is designed to serve Masonic and non-Masonic families throughout the state. Masonic families will always be granted priority, and may receive assistance with travel costs for initial on-site assessment at the MCYAF facility in San Francisco. The center identifies resources for ongoing treatment in the family's home community.

For details about accessing services, visit mcyaf.org.

 

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Help plan for future needs

Member and family needs for fraternal support and aging care will be different in the future, and the Masonic Homes is asking members to help identify the needs and preferences now.

Watch for an online survey in late March, and encourage members to take a few minutes to complete it. You'll help us plan relevant support for the future.

Read about the world-class services currently provided by the Masonic Homes of California, featured in the Feb/Mar issue of California Freemason.

 

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has a program that supports public education. Of the 129 that responded:

84% - yes
16% - no

 

Of those that said yes, the most popular programs were scholarships, student and teacher awards, and donations for school supplies. Twelve percent said their lodge adopted a school for year-round support.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please e-mail questions to communications@freemason.org.

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Grand Lodge of California
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San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000

e: memberservices@freemason.org