Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Lodge rejuvenation

HOW-TO: Identify lodge strengths and weaknesses

Find it on freemason.org

Your March checklist

Trestleboard and more

Question of the month

 

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BEST PRACTICE: Lodge rejuvenation

This month, Drytown Lodge No. 174 celebrates its 150-year anniversary in the small Western town of Plymouth. A Shrine parade will process through the town center and end at the lodge for a homestyle cookout. Commemorative coins will be awarded. The entire community will be invited.

Just 18 months ago, celebration was the furthest thing from members’ minds. The lodge was short on funds and low on participation. To turn things around, it embraced bold leadership, an array of new programs, and a tireless can-do attitude.

In the past year and a half, the lodge accepted 20 applications – a membership increase of nearly half its roster – and the future looks brighter still. Master Harold “Hal” Barker explains:

Background

In 2013, Drytown Lodge was on the brink of a fiscal and membership disaster. We had very little savings and few active members. But with the support of our inspector, assistant grand lecturer, grand master, and brothers from other lodges, the leadership team started an overhaul to save the lodge.

Initiatives

  • “Membership drive”: We encouraged all our members to share their Masonic experiences with other good men and to extend more invitations to our lodge events. We launched a membership program called 15/15: Our goal is to initiate 15 new Masons in 2015. We made a special patch with the program’s logo, and award it to any brother who brings in a new Mason. We already have five new applicants.
  • Quality focus: In our efforts to increase our membership numbers, we made sure all the applicants were a good fit; at the end of the day, we knew we needed not only more members, but ones who would help us keep our lodge strong for years to come.
  • Unique culture: We decided to embrace our lodge’s gold-country heritage with a new, unique uniform: a pair of nice jeans or dark trousers, white shirt, string bowtie, black leather vest, and black Western-style hat. We got permission for the master to wear a Western-style hat instead of a top hat.
  • Lodge gear: We created a patch and baseball caps with our lodge logo to help raise community awareness and generate pride. These simple things are important. Members want to belong to something, and they want to see that it’s important to their brothers, too.
  • Band of brothers: There is a great sense of friendship in our lodge. We try to focus on that. We talk about that “band of brothers” philosophy as part of our identity.
  • New member experience: We make it a priority to treat new members well. We don’t let them stand in the corner; we shake their hands and talk to them. We tell them we want them here. We ask how they want to participate, and find ways to keep them involved.
  • Community connection: We’re becoming more active in the community by building relationships with the city council, city manager, fair board, and Rotary Club. We’re working on the grand master’s Firefighters in Safety Education program to help raise burn safety awareness in local schools.
  • Neighborhood ties: We began inviting two neighboring lodges to practice and perform ritual with us to strengthen our relationship.
  • Lodge renovations: A brother who is a carpenter is leading renovations at the lodge.
  • Family focus: Members and their families are involved in a number of ways, including projects that enhance our community appearance, and help make our lodge a very busy, fun place to be.

Advice

  • Seek approval first: For every initiative, we sought prior approval from our inspector and AGL. The inspector was so impressed with our lodge, he joined!
  • Positive focus: We mentor new members by encouraging them to try new things and not worry too much about making mistakes. We don’t criticize errors; we simply help newer members learn so they are able to improve.
  • Future leaders: To help keep the lodge strong, us older members are making room for new brothers in the leadership line, and encouraging them to take officer roles.
  • Consistent and persistent: As lodge leaders, we set clear goals and express them continuously – nobody forgets what our aims are.
  • Be enthusiastic: Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are probably the most important virtues for helping a lodge grow. Be enthusiastic about Masonry, and it will encourage others to be, too.

Benefits

We began last year with the slogan “Save our lodge.” We did just that. Our membership numbers are up almost 50 percent. We have money in the treasury. We are increasingly visible in the community. And our members have a closer bond than ever.

Nothing that we did was revolutionary. It was just a matter of getting up off our seats and doing something. It was a matter of approaching Masonry with the commitment and energy that it deserves, and creating a home in which other Masons feel good about participating.

For more information, contact Hal Barker.

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HOW-TO: Identify lodge strengths and weaknesses

Being a good leader includes setting thoughtful, attainable goals for your lodge. That begins with an in-depth understanding of lodge needs, challenges, and assets. Here are exploratory questions to guide you.

Consider your unique lodge

Lead your Executive Committee through the following questions.

  • What is our lodge culture? Do we have a specific identity as a lodge?
  • What is something our members take particular pride in?
  • What are we known for in the community? What do we want to be known for?
  • As leaders, how do we spend most of our time?
  • As a lodge as a whole, how do we spend most of our time?
  • Over the past five years, in what ways has our lodge improved? In what ways has it declined?

Consider Solomon’s Wheel

Ask the following questions about each focus: Member prospecting, ritual, education, lodge business, leadership, social experience, and relief/community citizenship.

  • Is this focus a strength or weakness for us?
  • What are the things that make it a strength or weakness?
  • What resources and skills do we already have in this focus?
  • What resources and skills do we need?
  • What support do we need to help us acquire those resources and skills?

Download a resource document from last year’s leadership retreats.

In addition to discussing these questions with your lodge’s Executive Committee, consider posing them in a member survey or presenting them in an open forum discussion. Use the insight you gather to shape your lodge’s next strategic plan.

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Find it on freemason.org

Intacct is an accounting and reporting system developed especially for lodges and hall associations. It’s simple and straightforward, and support from friendly Grand Lodge staff is just a phone call away.

Wondering if it’s right for you? Here’s how it helped one lodge:

“Our previous accounting system was pen and pencil, supplemented by the lodge computer. We decided that Intacct was too good an offer to pass up, especially given that it does our taxes and reports. The training and staff were very informative and easy to understand, and the transition for the hall association went quickly and without a hitch. Grand Lodge continues to assist us with any questions. Overall, Intacct is a great system.”

–Dean Cofer, treasurer and hall association president, Molino Lodge No. 150

To enroll your lodge or get more information, contact the Grand Lodge Intacct team at intacct@freemason.org or (415) 292-9170. To view training materials, log into the Member Center on freemason.org, then go to Resources and Publications > Intacct Resources.

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Your March checklist

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

Executive Committee

Senior Warden

  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement
  • Continue preparing 2016 program plan
  • Continue preparing 2016 budget
  • Continue preparing 2016 officer appointments
  • Continue preparing 2016 installation of officers

Secretary

  • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members, which were due on January 1
  • File financial reports with Grand Lodge

Treasurer

  • If your lodge has employees, file W-3 forms with the IRS, along with copies of all W-2 forms
  • File financial reports with Grand Lodge

Audit Committee

  • Audit lodge books, to be completed by end of April

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

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Trestleboard and more

With April just weeks away, we’re dedicating this section to Public Schools Month preparations.

Nearly a century after the first Public Schools Week, California schools still count on Masons for support. April is set aside to renew our commitment.

Use this ad to remind your members about Public Schools Month, and the profound difference they can make for students and schools.

This Month: Public Schools Month ad
Publish in your Trestleboard, email to your membership, or print out and post at the lodge.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has a public education program. Of those who responded:

87% - Yes
11% - No
2% - Don't know

The most popular event? Public Schools Month: 62% of respondents said they host an event each April.

Here's your next question.

 

 

 

 

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