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Innovation: The Digital Lodge

Modern Masonry

Your October checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on freemason.org

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Innovation: The Digital Lodge

Located in Los Angeles, Ionic Composite Lodge No. 520 has a diverse and devoted membership. Lately, it’s also had a lot of enthusiasm for technology. Inspired by members’ positive reaction to the lodge app, last year members assembled their own “digital team”: half a dozen brothers who envision and develop new digital ways to keep members connected.

Digital team leader (and senior warden) Timothy Shiner explains.

Lodge app and social media

When we introduced our lodge app, lodge brothers living everywhere, from Israel to the California desert, started becoming more active. They began checking in with the lodge more regularly, revitalizing our relationships with them. Since it was such a success, we decided to look for other ways to reach them digitally. We were already on Facebook so we recently added a lodge Twitter account. Soon, we’ll add Instagram, too.

Stated meeting broadcasts

This year we began live-streaming the public portion of our stated meeting as an online video broadcast, using both the Periscope app and Facebook Live. I’ll “golf whisper” additional information when some context might help the online audience, and another brother often moderates a live chat, fielding questions from viewers and keeping them engaged. Over the summer we broadcast a charity auction event to benefit Masons4Mitts. We accepted online bids and were able to raise more than $11,000. We also broadcast a presentation at our lodge by Masonic Outreach Services, and the presenter was able to take questions from online participants.

Now anyone who can’t attend an event in person, including brothers who are sick or traveling, can still feel part of it. People from all over the world have joined too, including from the Grand Lodge of England. We’ve had as many as 30 people log on for a live event, and more than 200 watch the video after the fact (posted on Facebook).

Virtual education

Our newest innovation is Masonic education in the form of virtual reality (VR). We’re working to enable degree candidates to feel as though they are actually inside of each lesson they are learning to explore it for themselves.

Benefits of innovation

One of our 50-year members lives in the remote desert and can seldom make it to lodge in person. Over the past year, he’s become very active again as a result of our lodge app, Facebook, and Periscope. These innovations have brought him back into the fold. The same is true of a member who moved to England, and another who moved to Israel.

To stay relevant, lodges need to stay with the times. And with digital outreach, which is often inexpensive, we can almost always afford to do more. By embracing innovation, we have more ways to connect brothers with their lodge.

Contact: Timothy Shiner

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Modern Masonry

Every day, technology becomes more integrated in our lives, and social media opens the door for almost nonstop connection. Here are suggestions for adjusting to these cultural realities, and making them work for your lodge.

Lodge app

  • Get started with the lodge app: Your members can interact digitally in a private, Facebook-like news feed. They can see the calendar and lodge roster, and pay for events and their dues through the app.
  • Push notifications can be sent as reminders for events, and alerts of activity on the app. Since push notifications in the app are free, it’s more cost-effective than text messaging.

Social media

  • Designate several members to post regularly on lodge social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.).
  • Encourage members, spouses, and partners to participate: Repost their messages, when appropriate, and urge them to repost the lodge’s too.
  • Amplify any positive news articles or press that your lodge receives.
  • Put out a call for lodge photos, then organize them into a posting schedule for several months.
  • Ask questions or take polls, for example, What has been the most meaningful aspect of your Masonic membership?
  • Ask Masonic trivia questions (if a public forum, be sure these are appropriate for general knowledge).
  • Provide regular updates on lodge achievements and progress toward fundraising, strategic plan, and other goals.

Email

  • Use email to mark special announcements; for example, when the lodge accomplishes a goal or receives local recognition.
  • Share any newspaper or media coverage of the lodge via email, as well as social media and in the lodge app.

Reach out in traditional ways, too
Remember that there is still a digital divide among some members, and those with less access to Wi-Fi. And sometimes, traditional ways of connecting can be more meaningful:

  • When a member goes above and beyond for the lodge, put a thank-you in writing.
  • If a member hasn’t attended lodge in a while, pick up the phone.

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Your October checklist

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

Executive Committee

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Urge the presumptive 2017 master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if it’s not already completed.
  • Urge the presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to qualify early with the inspector in their office’s ritual.
  • Urge respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2017 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set your 2017 lodge calendar and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing your 2017 lodge budget, referring to the grand treasurer’s memo for help.
  • Finalize your installation date/venue and prepare the installing team.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.

Secretary

  • Prepare to send out dues notices and begin collecting member dues, starting Nov. 1.

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.

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

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For your Trestleboard

By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. Refer to this Q&A to address member questions about Masonic Family Outreach Services, and supply it as a resource for your lodge outreach committee.

Download: Masonic Family Outreach Services FAQs
Share with lodge outreach leaders, post at lodge, and distribute to members with questions about Masonic Family Outreach Services.

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Acacia Creek Retirement Community offers our members a way to live in retirement comfort the Masonic way. Help your members be aware of the successful aging lifestyle that can be theirs at Acacia Creek.
Download the Acacia Creek Ad

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Find it on freemason.org

The Vault is an online storage system for digital versions of documents – including minutes, applications, and monthly bills. Here are some great features:

  • Conveniently built into the Member Center on freemason.org.
  • Replaces physical document storage — frees up space; fire-safe and secure.
  • Allows leaders to search, share, and edit sensitive documents online.
  • Gives members access to needed information with a simple email link.
  • Improves communication and accountability.

The Vault is already set up and ready for you to use. Storage is free up to the first 2GB (additional storage is available for purchase, if needed).

To get started, log in to the Member Center and scroll to My Lodge. Select The Vault User Manual for instructions. Click on The Vault (Lodge Documents) link to access your lodge’s pre-set folders.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked how your lodge connects members with the worldwide fraternity. Of those who responded, the most popular answers were:

55% - Coordinate visits to other California lodges
34% - Organize trips to Annual Communication
31% - Cosponsor events with other lodges and/or Masonic organizations

Other popular answers included organizing trips to the Annual Masonic Symposium and/or UCLA Conference (21 percent), interacting with long-distance lodges on social media (21 percent), and hosting visiting Masons or scholars for special events (17 percent).

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