Does great brand planning make the difference for your Masonic Blue Lodge?

Does great brand planning make the difference for your Masonic Blue Lodge?

As new Masonic Year begins and new lodge officers begin ramping up their plans, events, and activities for their year. It is safe to say that a need to agree on the focus behind Masonic Localized brand is important. Any branding and investment by the lodge into branding can have a positive impact on their communities and/or niche markets of the blue lodge.

A lot of times I hear new officers make statements such as ‘ We hope to make…’; ‘I intend to make….’; and finally ‘My expectations are…’. In my experience, as a lodge officer and as a Master of a Blue Lodge, the difference between hope and expectation starts with a highly organized and prepared branding plan.

So what does this ‘branding plan’ look like, how is one developed, and why does it matter? Lastly, why should we bother listening to the Freemasonry Report when looking at this?  First off, the content creators of the Freemasonry Report come from the marketing and advertising industry. We simply want to give the Freemasons – internationally – a leg up on the competition in the fraternal organizations market place.

Basics on Brand Planning a Masonic Lodge’s Calendar Year.

Okay, so now you now our intentions are only ‘good’ and we are looking for nothing back from your local blue lodge.

Let’s start by defining brand planning: Brand planning is the process of allocating resources to a strategy designed to achieve a business objective that drives a brand closer to delivering on a valuable future vision.

There are plenty of definitions on Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuck Go, and so on, but I kind of like this basic definition of brand planning. Why?  Because it makes clear there is a decision to be made between the money and time a brand receives and the contribution that it will make. The statement also ties your lodge’s core goal and/or objective to a bigger and longer-term ambition to see your lodge succeed in some specific measurable way.

Okay, so we have got this definition squared away, now let’s consider what your communications committee of the blue lodge needs to focus on in a brand plan. The committee needs to document and communicate the following:

  1. What your blue lodge wants the brand to achieve in future, for its members, general community where potential members can learn about your lodge (i.e. the vision)
  2. What needs to be achieved in the short-term (i.e. the objectives to get things started) to move towards that vision
  3. How the short term objectives aim to achieve the vision of the blue lodge (i.e. your lodge’s brand strategy)
  4. What needs to be done to make certain that this happens (i.e. the tactics to be implemented to achieve your lodge’s desired goals) and at what cost.

Why have branding goals for your Blue Lodge?

The goal of the brand plan and the brand planning process is to align the cross-functional working team of lodge officers and committeemen. As well as including your other stakeholders, such as your brothers which comprise the overall lodge’s membership. It is important to include everyone engaged with your lodge so that you can get insights from everyone on the direction for the lodge. This will help figure out the overall ‘culture’ of your particular lodge and understand the rationale or the ‘why’ the lodge does things in a certain way. This can include but not be limited to the fundraising priorities, community initiatives, and of course ways to which the lodge pursues good men in the community.

Once you can understand that, then a  strategy can be formed on ‘how’ to implement effective goals, ideas, styles, themes, slogans, creative and/or artistic vision to the branding plan.  After completing the strategy sessions within your lodge, you can move into the tactical side of the branding campaign or more easily explained the ‘what are you going to do’. This alignment is crucial to make powerful branding strategy actionable and to make execution happen across all stakeholders of the lodge.

How important is getting the Leadership & The Craft into Alignment?

This is so important, don’t assume anything in the branding planning.  You need your brothers on-board with the branding plans for it to really work. Why? Because by engaging more brothers into the plan, you are decreasing the workload for a single individual, thus increasing the overall productivity and overall performance of the branding campaign throughout your lodge.

Aligning your brothers into working teams is achieved by sharing the plan with them. A working team of brothers need to be supplied a goal, deadline, and potential result or results from the efforts. In reality, there are a number of factors that get in the way for the brothers to be completely aligned with the plan.

First, take a look at when and how you are on-boarding them. Need to set clear written steps and actions in the beginning to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunication on what they need to be focused at which point in the process of the branding plan. It is great to have a visionary brainstorming brother but once that portion is completed – they need to understand the evolution and the action steps required in each stage of the plan. They need to buy-in to the plan’s evolution in the beginning.

Further, it is very important to establish a sense of confidence in the plan to avoid any misunderstanding and/or a limited belief in decisions made – which can be toxic to the branding plan’s overall success. It is really terrible to have a brother that never really bought into the plan and now is speaking against the actions other brothers are taking. This type of brother can’t be ‘fired’ because we are a volunteer driven organization but their confidence issues must be addressed directly and in a positive manner. Many times, a brother such as this one needs more communication on a more regular basis plus it is also relevant to determine their capabilities and limitations to ensure they can be given a task which is ‘very achievable’.

By ensuring clarity and a higher than average communication level, your lodge’s confidence in the brand plan will be high across the
cross-functioning teams of brothers. This will help in the ability to execute the planning effectively and deliver real tangible value to the lodge over a longer period of time.

Discussing the Brand Plan with the Masonic Lodge Brothers.

Did you ever consider that the brothers in your lodge may not know or clearly state their organizations strategic priorities? Now you lodge’s management team (i.e. the officers) that is held responsible for leading strategy may struggle to accurately list their local organization’s strategic priorities. This is truly should be a big concern.

The key is to involve the Craft in the process to develop the brand plan in a meaningful way. I recommend that you encourage honesty and healthy debates to ensure that key decisions are clearly explained. Further, I recommend you print and post your lodge’s priorities in the lodge building for the brothers to see and read.  This communication will result in helping to keep the lodge’s priorities open in a very simple, very clear and very consistent way. Thus it will ensure that the Craft can see, know, and understand the bigger picture to which the branding plan is looking to tackle.

Don’t consider it a victory to talk just once and post a poster up.  You need to repeat the priorities over and over and then repeat the lodge’s strategic priorities some more.

Final Thoughts on this topic for now… A brand plan is presented once a year, ‘brand planning’ is continuous!

Specific timings will vary based on lodge officer installations and committee appointments, but planning tends to accompany the financial year that the lodge follows – often January 1st to December 31st. But Grand Lodges generally transition during the mid part of the year to assist the lodges with their transitions in some cases, thus their financial year may or may not vary based on their individual reporting schedule.

With that being said, this means the cycle of brand planning will build through the earlier part of the year with activity reaching a peak at the later part of the year. This can be adjusted for progressive lines and multi-year functioning committees. While the development, writing and presentation of brand strategy and tactics will be concentrated over a two to three month period, the process of developing brand strategy should be a continuous effort of the Masonic Lodge’s Craft.

Once these have been completed and the plan moves to execution, an emphasis should focus on measuring the outputs of tactical campaign execution via regular review of Key Performance Indicators. By doing this, you are allowing for tactical adjustments to be made to close strategy-execution gaps which transpire. Ask your working teams to gather relevant data for actions taken and generate meaningful insights to accurately diagnose the situation of the brand, your local market, and what possible new opportunities and/or challenges need to be addresses.

It is okay to add additional objectives, removing objectives in some cases and considering other factors during the campaign. It is important to always focus on the best way to achieve the brand plan’s objectives.  If you need to get in the deep and look at things in a granular  way, then do so.

Finally, clarity and confidence in the Masonic Lodge’s brand plan is really the goal to aligning the plan consistently and completely across your Blue Lodge’s working teams to drive effective execution and hopefully deliver the results you want.

A typical brand planning cycle

  1.  Seek First To Understand Your Masonic Lodge’s Situation
    • Where are we winning/losing?
    • What are the Stakeholder’s behavior trends?
    • What are local community external trends?
    • Determine what key priorities need to be addressed
  2. Define and Establish Your Masonic Lodge’s Strategy
    • Create a brand vision
    • Define Your Annual Objectives
    • Target Good Men and other and value propositions
    • Create a Printed List of Strategic Priorities
  3. Develop powerful and agreed upon tactics
    • Have the Lodge vote on tactical campaigns that compliment its strategy
    • Align budget requirements
    • Assign responsibilities
  4. Align & execute
    • Shared understanding of ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘what’
    • Ensure there is an aligned individual objectives
    • Review and Discuss the Key Performance Indicators in Lodge Meetings
    • Offer recognition items for the volunteers in the Lodge

Brand planning in the Blue Lodge, you and your teams will need to recognize the accelerating nature of their markets. You may need to resist the temptation to throw more and more tactical activities to address a wider range of growing challenges to grow your lodge in the way you have envisioned. Set reasonable goals to achieve and remember to raise expectation of clarity and confidence to the Craft.

Please keep up with the Freemasonry Report

The Freemasonry Report will be writing more articles to help grow the fraternity. The Freemasonry Report hopes this information was helpful to you. If you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, the Freemasonry Report is creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? More good news, the Freemasonry Report is creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

3 ways to keep your Masonic Lodge from closing its doors

3 ways to keep your Masonic Lodge from closing its doors

There is no easy Answer to turn around a Blue Lodge that is struggling to maintain enough brothers to keep it’s doors open.  This article is going to attempt to answer some of the popular ways to turnaround your Blue Lodge or a Blue Lodge in your Masonic District.  Please note, this information is a very broad answer to the challenge and it’s always wise to speak with your District Deputy and/or your Grand Lodge to ensure you can take advantage of these ideas without breaking your Grand Lodge’s Masonic Law.

Is your Blue Lodge getting close to closing its doors forever? This is a tough situation for any brother to have to face.  You know your local Blue Lodge is struggling, but you feel powerless to do anything about it.  You need to start with a grassroots movement among the brothers in the lodge to turn it around. Don’t worry, you may be wondering where do I even start?  The Freemasonry Report has a few ways to get your Blue Lodge moving in the right direction, but it will take the dedication of yourself and your brothers to put these ideas in action. Please understand just reading this article is not enough and if you feel like you accomplished something from reading this article – it is simply not going to help you. So take action immediately after reading this article.

So here are the ways the Freemasonry Report promised you at the beginning of this blog article. Follow these steps and you will be able to improve your Masonic Blue Lodge.

First Way to Keep Your Masonic Lodge’s Doors Open. 

Let’s go back to the basics. Be sure you understand your Blue Lodge’s vision as a fraternity.  Unfortunately, you will find that there are a lot of brothers who complain that the fraternity is falling apart and that it needs to be better.  However, a lot of times these lodge brethren don’t have ideas on how they would help change the day to day operations to make it better.  Brothers who complain a lot and don’t offer solutions are part of the problem unfortunately and their minds and/or hearts need to be changed.  So how do you change the hearts and minds of these brothers? It is important to read your lodge’s charter or warrant to determine what goals directly align with the charter.  It is recommended to read the charter or warrant at a meeting for every brother to hear it.  Further, it might be wise to send a letter to every brother in the lodge re-engaging them to remember the purpose of the Blue Lodge.

Remember, if you want to be part of the solution, be sure you understand what needs to be changed. Really look at what your lodge is doing and what it is not doing.   Make a list and share it with the brothers at a lodge meeting.  Begin having the conversation(s), to re-align the lodge with its core purpose and possibly it may take redefining your local lodge’s vision to better align with the new direction (or possibly the original direction set by the Grand Lodge in the charter or warrant).

Please understand, this is not an overnight solution because it requires intense humbleness, critical thinking, possibly a lot of listening, and a high level of communication. The humble brother that takes this first step can really make a big impact in the Blue Lodge.  By taking this action, you are literally changing the morale of the lodge brothers, giving them a new way of looking at things, re-establishing the true goals for the lodge brothers to attain, and striving to make the lodge function properly again.  Since this is not an overnight solution, be prepared to deal with setbacks, feelings of doubt, and of course continuing to do what is needed when others question your zeal.

Second Way to Keep Your Masonic Lodge’s Doors Open. 

Start having private talks with the current leadership of your blue lodge. Why? You need to get on the same page with your lodge’s leadership team to better understand the current state of the fraternity from their eyes. Listen to them and get to understand their perspective of reality. If it sounds like communication is a problem in the lodge, then these private talks will help enlighten you to what they are thinking.  Further, it will not be seen as an attack of their leadership style in front of the entire craft in a regular meeting. So, therefore, they will trust you more and respect your drive to improve the lodge while not publicly attacking them for anything in their control or that may be actually beyond their control as well.

Please be aware, I am a Past Master and I understand that the Worshipful Master is the top leader of the lodge. This brother is in control of everything related to the lodge during his year. With that being said,  it is fair to say that an “Act of God” event does happen from time to time. Also, in some cases, the sitting Worshipful Master has inherited issues from the previous sitting Master’s year. Unfortunately, he can fix the past and simply has to deal with the repercussions of the past events now however he deems is best for the craft.

Back to my original point, if you don’t understand why the executive committee of your lodge is making the decisions they are making – talk to them privately.  As a common courtesy among brothers, you owe it to them to talk to them before you publicly voice your discontent.  During these private talks, you may find out a lot. You may determine they are part of the problem or they have a very similar vision for the future as you do. If you learn that they are part of the problem start digging deeper to really understand why they are doing things they are doing.  Ask questions about where they see the lodge in 10 years, 20 years, or maybe in one year. It is not uncommon to find brothers that are interested in merging with another local lodge as a way to solve all their problems. Ask yourself if merging your blue lodge is a potential solution or not.

In some cases, just starting to privately talk can help identify the barriers that prevent your lodge from improving its overall health.  With that being said getting communication going is a big step to changing the lodge’s current reality.  These talks can build strong possible allies in overcoming those barriers to the lodge’s success in keeping its doors open.  It will enlighten you on what is being planned, not being planned, and what has/hasn’t worked in the past plus why as well. Finally, some lodge leaders may find hope in your efforts and become inspired to see brothers want to fix the health of the Blue Lodge.

Third Way to Keep Your Local Blue Lodge’s Doors Open. 

Even if you are not currently an appointed or elect lodge officer does not mean you can’t be an informal leader. If you still believe that your lodge leadership doesn’t get it or worse yet is simply ignoring the problem entirely. Then you need to take the initiative to improve your local Freemason lodge. Remember, just because you are not in a leadership role doesn’t mean that you can’t lead.  Here are things you can do to improve your fraternity while not being on a lodge officer:

  1. Strengthen the brotherhood – The foundation of brotherhood is the strength of the friendships between the brothers.  Work on making your brothers become better friends. Achieve this by asking them to hang out with you.  Get them to want to begin eating more meals together.  This means a lot of work for you – ask brothers to go to the gym and work out with you a few other brothers. Ask them to do a couples date night together. Maybe it is as simple as planning a social card night or bowling night for the brothers.  Never exclude anyone for any reason especially the current lodge officers.  The more time you spend with your brothers, the closer you will become.  This will strengthen the brotherhood and possibly change the direction of the health of your blue lodge all together.
  2. Improve your Freemason Blue Lodge’s image – Here are 2 simple steps to effectively do this.
    • The first step in improving your image is to make sure you represent yourself in a way that brings honor to yourself and credit to the fraternity.  Be a role model, a lifelong student, a friend, an ethical business professional, and an active member of your community.  And wear your Square and Compass on a polo shirt, jacket, hat, or ring.  Let everyone know you are proud to be in the Freemasons.
    • The second step is by letting others know how good your Blue Lodge actually is.  Never miss an opportunity to brag on your blue lodge with outsiders.  There are good things about your local fraternity – focus and celebrate those things.  Tell your wife/girlfriend, your kids, and your extended family how awesome your social events are.  Tell prospective new members about the great brotherhood events you have.  Tell your boss at work about how being in the fraternity has improved your ethical decision-making abilities.  This type of positive energy is infectious.  If enough brothers take in upon themselves to share how awesome the Masonic Lodge is in their personal lives, it won’t take long before the entire Blue Lodge actually believes it again.
  3.  Get active in the Community – Fresh blood does wonders for any blue lodge.  New candidates and the new brothers are excited to start their fraternity experience and have no idea the baggage the Blue Lodge has. Be honest and let them know the challenges then empower them a chance to fix it with or without you.  Focus on the positives, and feed off their energy.  Empower them to improve your local Blue Lodge by getting active in the community.  Here are some ideas to get the brothers engaged as Freemasons in the community
    • 4th of July Parade Participants
    • Halloween Community Event Candy Hander Outers
    • Book Reader in an Elementary School Class
    • Host a Movie Night at the Lodge
    • Give tours of the lodge on weekends to local citizens and/or tourists in your community
    • Setting up and volunteering for the Freemason Table at a community event
    • Awarding Police/Fire/EMT with plaques for excellence in Service at a City/Town Council Meeting
    • Be active on Social Media presenting Freemasonry is alive and well in the community
    • Volunteer for local goodwill projects like – Habitat for Humanity or a Community Food Bank
  4. Plan something out of the box – Struggling Masonic Lodges need something awesome to happen to them.  They need to have a success – big or small to brag about. The Craft needs to share the story of this success to the community. They need to tell about the experiences of the success to brag about.  So, be the brother who comes up with an awesome idea and makes it a reality.  Maybe a free Masonic Lodge Pancake Breakfast for the entire community to attend or maybe it is a giving away toys during the holidays to foster kids, whatever you choose to do – make it truly epic.  This will bring your lodge brothers closer together.  Also, it will boost the pride in the Masonic Lodge dramatically because they now have something they can be proud of beyond being raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in the masonic lodge building.

If you follow these steps, your Blue Lodge may see improvements, but remember it starts with you.  These are subtle things you can do that will have dramatic results on the lodge brothers as well as yourself too. Remember, the underlying theme is to focus on the ‘positives’ by taking the personal initiative to improve your local Freemason Lodge. Okay, I hope these ideas help you and your lodge in the coming year. So I have put a lot of hours into this website and the Freemasonry Report Youtube Channel as well. I hope you explore the Freemasonry Report further to get more ideas and questions answered.

Please keep up with the Freemasonry Report

The Freemasonry Report will be writing more articles to help grow the fraternity. The Freemasonry Report hopes this information was helpful to you. If you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, the Freemasonry Report is creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? More good news, the Freemasonry Report is creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

5 Ideas to keep Masonic Brothers Motivated

5 Ideas to keep Brothers Motivated

In any fraternity, finding ways to keep brothers motivated is tough and this is true for Freemasonry as well. But remember that every brother is a volunteer and you can not stop the heart of a volunteer. So, finding a good volunteer is really important because once a brother finds his passion project(s) in the fraternity – he can be stopped!

Growing the Lodge Brothers to want to be engaged and to volunteer is so valuable to the health of the lodge as well as to in themselves.  The degrees teach so much, but keep in mind that a committed brother is a volunteer which means he is a committed donor to worthy causes, too! Either way, their commitment to your local Blue Lodge is really the key. To keep that commitment alive after a brother completes his degrees, maybe after he has completed serving the lodge as an officer, or maybe once he has been a brother for a few years, the Freemasonry Report has created some tips for keeping your brethren motivated and coming back time after time.

Idea #1 – Say Thanks

Whenever you thank your brothers for any task big or small you are showing honest and genuine appreciation. By showing them how much their work means to you, you are literally cementing a long-term relationship.

As you may already know, there are many different ways to say thank you.

I always recommend to acknowledge them when you see them in person and do it privately. No need to thank them in front of the lodge. It is better to thank them and have a genuine conversation afterward about Freemasonry, the lodge or whatever feels right.  Next, take time to write a handwritten thank-you note to the brother(s) that helped with achieving a major or minor project. Whatever you do, make sure to follow up their volunteerism with some words of gratitude, we all have very busy lives and to have brothers stop them to give their valuable time to the fraternity needs to be appreciated.

Retention of Brothers starts with simple acts of gratitude. Retaining a brother over the long term is a good way to build him up to maybe make an impact on the fraternity you never dreamed of.  By saying thank you, you’ll gain loyal supporters if you have intentions of sitting in the East or not, it makes a difference in your Blue Lodge over the long run.

Idea #2 – Build a Community

Invite your brothers to join your lodge’s online community!  Over the years, Yahoo Groups, Facebook Groups, and numerous others are ways to get information out and keep the conversation going.  So, set up a Facebook Group – it’s free! Invite them to join the group and get to know them better. Make them feel welcome and yes, I did this during my year in the East by sharing pictures and gif files to make them feel welcome. Remember, not every brother is computer savvy, so reach out to him and chat about the importance of the group. A neglected brother won’t come back, but today’s online social connections will keep brothers tied to your Blue Lodge and your local goals.

Maybe, the online avenue is not for your lodge. Okay, what about ‘Food’? Did you know, food is always a great option for getting your lodge brothers together? It is true!  So, organize a fellowship social time for your brothers. And no, the lodge’s monthly dinner does not count.

Seriously, how hard is it to go to a coffee shop or restaurant and just hang out together? Have a bite to eat before everyone gets to talking or working on any Blue Lodge business. While you’re sharing a meal, you can get to know one another and ask for feedback in person from a brother. Did, you know, when I was Worshipful Master, I would invite brothers to eat pizza with me. We would talk and they ask me questions about the fraternity. These pizza conversations set up a future line of leaders and it went a long way to share the importance of reading the Grand Lodge’s Digest. If you’re looking for a new way to feed a big crowd, well reserve a 20 or 30 person table and eat a lot of pizza. Maybe, if you want, build a dinner night out into the lodge’s budget and give everyone a free dinner.

It is important to build a community of brothers in your lodge.  A good community of brothers that fellowship often keeps the spirit of the fraternity alive after the lodge meeting ends.  So, encourage brothers to hang out and explore places to grab a bite to eat.  Last thought on this idea, my brothers help the VFW raise money by going out together and eating steak once a month.  We have a few brothers that are veterans and numerous more that love steak. By eating together for this important cause, we are engaging with each and growing friendships within the lodge’s brotherhood. Thus, we are establishing a new community of brothers to spend time with. Having numerous communities of brothers to eat with will certainly increase retention.

Idea #3 – Open Door Policy

Open Door Policies are not only for the Human Resources Department, but it also needs to be part of the lodge officer’s ethos. We all know that communication is key, especially with new brothers. Having an open-door policy helps your brothers potentially be able to do their best work and feel comfortable asking questions. When a brother asked me a question as an officer of the lodge, it was a great moment because I could build a trusting relationship that could withstand the test of time.  I know, I know it’s not often. But anytime you want to just tell the lodge anyone is welcome to ask any lodge officer a question at any time about anything.

This type of open-door communication allows brothers to get the conversation started. By allowing them to chance to speak whenever they wish about anything they wish creates trust and bonds. I tried to remember that my time in the chairs was so limited.  It was critical for me to help establish communication channels wherever possible.

Did I have control over every conversation? No, yet in a matter of time my control would be gone anyways but the brothers who had the conversations would not be. I wanted them to communicate with each other before and after they did something together. I  just openly allowed them to do so. It was such a quick statement in the first lodge meeting and officer meeting not many probably even recall it being said. It did add a few extra emails, text messages, phone calls, and online chat to my plate, but it did help things run smoothly once the door was open.  Unfortunately, I did have surprises in my years of being a lodge leader. So, no idea is perfect but when you combine some of these together maybe you can get close.

This is useful for recruiting brothers to help at special events.  You can introduce the new brothers to the lodge committee chairs for the special events. Openly state, “Anyone at any time can ask questions about anything pertaining to the committee work.”  When you’re ready to get started, explain their task of each committee in detail, and times /dates they are meeting plus any other useful information that is necessary. Then, ask the new brothers to volunteer for something. Stick around for the entire meeting to be present for questions that might come up, and make yourself available if any other issues arise, but also invite the committee chair to take over the question/conversation for you. Don’t be afraid to give your brothers a challenging job either! It might take some extra time on the front end, but giving them significant work will make them want to come back again.

Idea #4 – Respect Their Time

A brother’s time is so valuable. The cable-tow is a great example of that truth.  I recommend that you don’t invite a brother to do something until you have something for them to do. Just asking a brother to help out is cool, but if there is nothing to do, they will it is the case and they will move on to something with substance. Never ask for a brother to volunteer and then just let them sit around. It is a total waste of the brother’s time.  It shows you don’t have a plan and their time is worthless to you. Lastly, it shows the brother that maybe they should spend their time with someone who actually values it. Remember, they’re making themselves available, so take full advantage of their help while they’re available but be certain you have something for them to do.

For ten years, I have been a business owner and time is money to me.  How I use my time equates to how much money I can bring home to support my family. Any volunteer effort that I want to be a part of is my time. I am clearly aware of this, that I am making a clear decision to not make money but to help someone. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that many brothers are employed full time or part-time, so getting time off from their job is something they need to plan way ahead of time for.  Understand and respect this reality as truth.

Well, you might be thinking – “What about retired brothers?”. First, they are not your full-time employees and have worked hard to enjoy their senior years. Vacations and family activities play a big role in their lives. Be considerate and accommodating of their schedules because they might be making up for the lost time during their working years. Always, be upfront and honest about communicating your needs and more importantly what is required if they wish to volunteer to help you out too. Share how long a task will take when it’ll be available to do and not to do. Most importantly, if there is a deadline for when it needs to be done. Providing alternate opportunities is also a great option—it includes your brothers that have tight schedules but still want to give their time.

Idea #5 – Show the Impact

Brothers love to hear and see the impact they made. From making a new Mason to the amount money donated to a worthy cause – this matters!  From collecting money at each lodge meeting for a local charitable cause to the efforts of brothers at a special event.  We need to share this as often as possible.

Remember, every brother (myself included) loves seeing the impact their work has made. You can easily do that by giving them a shout-out on social media, acknowledge them in a newsletter, or ask them to stand up in a lodge meeting. After the meeting, snap a few photos to be shared on the lodge’s website or social media page too.  Try to brainstorm some other ways to spread the brotherly love in your local lodge with the other lodge leaders! Fill the brothers in on your lodge’s goals and let them know how they helped in a personal email, thank you note, or phone call.

You can also recognize the volunteer efforts of your brothers by rewarding them for their effort.  You can encourage your brothers by tracking their volunteer hours on a picture set up in the lodge for their faithful service.

Okay, I hope these ideas help you and your lodge in the coming year. So I have put a lot of hours into this website and the Freemasonry Report Youtube Channel as well. I hope you explore the Freemasonry Report further to get more ideas and questions answered.

Please keep up with the Freemasonry Report

The Freemasonry Report will be writing more articles to help grow the fraternity. The Freemasonry Report hopes this information was helpful to you. If you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, the Freemasonry Report is creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? More good news, the Freemasonry Report is creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

Why do Freemasons wear white aprons?

Why do Freemasons wear white aprons?

Freemasons wear a white apron to represent themselves as Mason in a stated communication at Blue Lodge.  The color white comes from the lamb skin material in which it was made from.  Entered Apprentices, Fellowcraft, and Master Masons wear their aprons in a different way to signify their rank in the fraternity. A Master Mason can be buried wearing their apron at his death as well.

What is the history of the white apron?

Originally, the apron was worn by Operative Masons to protect themselves from rough stones and tools. As the fraternity evolved into a more speculative society where men free born and of lawful age could join the Freemasons. The Masonic Apron essentially was kept to remember the workmen of our origins. These days the ‘white leather apron’ is a badge of fraternal brotherhood and reminder of the lessons in the 3 degrees of Freemasonry. It should serve as a reminder to Master Masons that regularly sit in lodge or not of their obligations (or commitments they had promised) to uphold the values and brotherly love within the Craft.

Traditional White Lambskin ApronThe Masonic Lambskin Apron to most brothers within the fraternity. But, a good debate can be had for the Gavel and other meaningful symbols found in Freemasonry. But I must say, this is a more publicly known and seen symbol of the fraternity versus what is discussed in the degrees.  So it is a fun debate to listen if it is the greatest symbol of Masonic tradition and history.

When the fraternity started to establish Grand Lodges, the founding brothers of these Grand Lodges adopted the working tools and traditions of the operative stonemasons. According to Masonic research, the original aprons worn by operative masons were made of leather and large enough to cover the wearer from chest to ankles. But, the speculative brethren of that era were not engaged in stone-masonry but other industries. Some brothers were printers, clergy, royalty, merchants, and so on.

Therefore, they kept the traditional items of a operative masonic lodge and the importance of how to identify a traveling mason between building projects. Among them was the protective apron, which operative masons wore as they worked and traveled to find new work. When a traveling operative Mason would come to a lodge in a new town – his apron was his way of first showing his skill level and what he kind masonry he specialized to the other Masons in the town.  So, yes the Masonic Lambskin Apron has a rich history of first being more of an utilitarian leather apron in it’s earliest days of usage.  Now, the brothers keep the apron and include what it symbolizes to them today.

That brings us back to the first Grand Lodges that were formed and made the apron into the smaller modern style aprons we see around the internet today. But, each Grand Lodge adopted it’s own version of the apron.  Some Grand Lodge added colors to the apron to represent the Grand Lodge officers and other symbols to represent a brother service to the craft. As Freemasonry continued to establish new Grand Lodges in new parts of the world, the individual newer Grand Lodges began adopting new things to adorn their jurisdictions aprons with symbols and ribbons for the brethren in that Grand Lodge jurisdiction.

What symbols can be found on a Masonic Apron?

As stated earlier, over the course of time, the Masonic apron has evolved. From the original utilitarian garment of a operative stonemason to the current day speculative Masonic symbolic garment used today.  The officer positions of a blue lodge can be found on the aprons as well as the symbol of a Master Mason on others. The Master Mason symbol is generally worn by brothers that are not yet Past Masters but have been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason and are not currently serving the craft as an officer.

Okay before I continue, it is so important to mention that the explanation coming up is from my experiences of Freemasonry based in the Southern United States of America. I know that Freemasonry is an international brotherhood of men and that there are so many Grand Lodges with minor differences when it comes to aprons that this explanation may vary based on the reader’s Masonic Grand Lodge jurisdiction.  So if your Masonic Apron style is so radically different – feel free to share that with me at the Freemasonry Report’s official Facebook Page anytime you want.  I love hearing from my readers and hearing about your Grand Lodge’s rich history.

Now let’s talk about the look of a Master Mason Apron:

Blue and White Deluxe Master Mason ApronAt the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, the Master Mason’s apron was white. Why did they want the color of a Master Mason Apron to be white only?  Due to the preservation of its symbolic character, the apron should always be pure white and clean without an stains on it. A clean white apron is of course agreed upon by most all Freemason as being an emblem of innocence and purity in the Masonic movement. But your Grand Lodge’s first three degrees would only truly give you a full explanation of the aprons meaning.

A Master Mason apron should always be made out of lambskin, yet that is not always the case. I have seen linen, satin, plastic leather and other substitutions for lambskin in my Masonic travels over the last number of years.

Blue and White Simple Master Mason Apron

Being a Freemason based in Florida, my experience has been that online you can find various qualities of aprons to purchase. But, if you are not certain what your Grand Lodge allows in reference to other materials – just call them and ask. Some Grand Lodges are strict and do not allow any other material to worn, such as linen, silk, satin, or etc.  Why? There is a debate that it could be harm the emblematic character of the apron.

On some Master Mason aprons you will find a blue fringe. This blue fringe generally surrounds the white leather center, is a constant reminder of the universality of Freemasonry. It is to remain Freemasons of the unbroken bond of friendship and Brotherly Love which exists in the fraternity. But again, you should review the documents of your Grand Lodge to determine if that meaning is actually true in your jurisdiction.  Many Freemason authors have penned some amazing poems, myths, stories, and presentations for our enjoyment. But, unfortunately numerous merchants online have taken this as fact, which at times is not always the case.

Simple Master Mason Apron

When does a Freemason earn his Lambskin Apron?

During his first degree, each Mason is given a plain white leather apron, it represents the white lambskin, a symbol of innocence.  A Freemason’s labor of building his life in a good upright way starts early in his Masonic career and continues until his death.

Thus, a new Entered Apprentice receives a white apron upon being made a Mason in the Lodge. This apron helps to remind the brothers of the fraternity that we as being good men are expected to pursue always becoming better in that brother’s life as a Freemason. This apron is always to be cherished by the brother and a honor to have ownership of for his entire life.

 

Please keep up with the Freemasonry Report

I will be writing more articles to help grow the fraternity and I hope this information was helpful to you. If you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, I am creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? Good news – I am creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

Does my blue lodge need to have a brand strategy?

Does my blue lodge need to have a brand strategy?

Yes, it does. Branding is everything these days and Freemasonry internationally has a great brand.  But, how do we convert it to your local community? What steps do you need to follow to make certain that the area around your lodge is excited, engaged, and inspired by the Freemasons that attend the lodge regularly?

People in your community should know that the men make up your lodge are…what exactly?

This is the million-dollar question Masons are trying to answer. And the answer is not and cannot be so generalized that no one can really feel like that they can relate to you.

First, before you run off and create a brand for your local blue lodge to have. You need to ask yourself – what is the culture in my lodge?

Are the brothers dressed very formal at the meetings or not?  Are the brothers meeting every week for stated communications and practices or not? Are your brothers very interested in fundraising for community programs or not? Are your brothers more interested in social fellowship based activities when the lodge is not open?

Who makes up your lodge? And who doesn’t make up your lodge too?  There are endless questions to define your local lodge experience. In my home lodge, the biggest question was ‘what color tuxedo coat are we going to wear next year? white or black?  This is a simple question but it really digs into understanding so much of the culture of my home lodge. It was formal and very traditional in the way it did things. But, not all lodges are like this, some lodges are much more casual while others are very formal. Are you starting to get the point of building your brand locally?

Developing a Brand Strategy with the Brothers of your Blue Lodge

Developing a brand strategy is a vital step in creating your blue lodge’s identity. Your brand strategy will act as a blueprint when it comes to developing your marketing strategies and tactics. But, Ed aren’t we a secret society, that should work in the shadows and not use marketing materials?  Well, my question to you is, is that what you want to be? Living in the shadows? Is that what your Grand Lodge wants you to do or not?  If you aren’t certain, call up your Grand Secretary and ask him. I think he might be surprised by your genuine concern to do things right and happily answer your question.

Your branding is also the core of your blue lodge and the brothers need to look at the materials in the lodge and approve them.  The same way they would if you were going to repaint the blue lodge. Getting the brothers’ input and feedback is critical to having a localized strategy.  So what if your meeting runs long, isn’t it better to build up a healthy lodge?

These branding material come from the talks of your brand strategy conversations – it need to address the goals, vision, results, and ways you like to conduct business.  I think a healthy lodge tells new EA brothers that the stated communication is a business meeting where we pay the bills and decide on things that need to get done to the building.

I personally stress to new brothers that the fraternal experience really starts when you leave the lodge building. My branding strategy for my local lodge is two-fold – you learn to become a better man and you are gaining new friendships.

Becoming a better man starts by taking action on what you learned in the degree outside the lodge in life. Further, the friendships are the bond(s) we form to help each other with taking actionable steps to apply what we learned in the degrees. We hold each other accountable in life and we support one another too.

Getting off my soapbox, having a brand strategy keeps your business functional and consistent. An effective branding process will create a unique identity that differentiates you from the competition. Such as the Moose, the Elk, and so on. Your identity is what will keep brothers coming back or the lack of a local identity will create a revolving door in your blue lodge.

What is the purpose of your brand?

Your brand should be created based on your Masonic Lodge’s personality, image, and core characteristics. The impressions you make, and how others perceive your fraternity in the community will lay the basic framework of your branding.

So, what do you want your brand to do for your blue lodge, and what do you want others to say about your fraternity when you are not in front of them? With a strong brand, you will have more influence on your marketing, and you will be able to build your credibility as a fraternity that matters in the community. This should motivate brothers and local residents to want to engage your lodge to invest in the fraternity by way of community service, community involvement, and asking how to become a member of the lodge.

A big part of your branding is the look of your marketing. Everything from your logo to your color schemes all plays a part in your strategy. With the success of your branding strategy weighing so heavily on the look of your branding, it may be best to turn to a professional. This is a good opportunity to engage a brother in your lodge or Masonic District to step up and help you.  A professional can help tie things together and help design the perfect logo for your lodge that includes the square and compass.  A professional can help with establishing the slogan and assist with the layout that can be used throughout your marketing efforts.

Should my lodge host a branding awareness campaign or not?

No, and yes.  I say ‘no’ because you really need to speak with your Grand Lodge to ensure that they are cool with it.  Now, I say ‘yes’ because simply stated, your lodge’ brand awareness is the degree of a brand’s consciousness in the minds of its target audience in the community. Most charities, do fundraisers and special events to keep their target audience aware of their brands which drives donations, a positive community impact in some way, and new membership as well.

So let’s just say, your Grand Lodge is totally cool with the idea that your local blue lodge wants to make new Masons and build a strong positive foothold in the community.  There are a lot of innovative ways you can quickly increase your lodge’s brand awareness. Please keep in mind, I am sharing this information free of charge and only doing so that you can improve your own fraternal experience. As a Past Master of a Masonic Lodge in Florida, we have done some of these steps but not all of them. Why because I worked hard to get my brothers to buy-in to the ideas. I shared numerous ideas knowing some would be rejected versus only sharing one idea and having a fifty-fifty chance of successfully getting the brothers to buy into the idea.

  • Engage the Masons in your lodge that are “influencers” already.  You may have a businessman who knows the players in the community or maybe you have the mayor in your lodge. Talk to them and get them to agree to engage more people in a positive way about the fraternity.
  • Ask local small businesses to display your posters about an upcoming event or how you care for those in need in the community.
  • Try inviting new ‘influencers’ that you meet into your niche is a great way to increase brand awareness and hopefully drive new candidates into the door. These can be radio station talk show hosts, local club leaders, and TV personalities. Am I saying to make them a Mason on sight – NO! What I am saying is to team up with them to get your word out there.
  • Create and use branded packaging. Get a local print shop to make business cards for the lodge officers and brochures for the brothers to help them explain what Freemasonry is doing in and for your local community.
  • Get online, build a website, do your SEO research, and share your website on Social Media
  • Get as many of the brothers in the lodge to ‘share’ or ‘re-post’ your social media branding with their friends online.
  • Get setup on Google Maps as a location and add pictures and content there too
  • Maybe run a small Facebook or Google promoting the successes of your fraternity – such as giving a ton of money to the local children’s home or being awarded something as lodge from the Grand Lodge or your local community leaders.

How long should we be doing this?  All year!?!

No, not all year. Again a brand strategy is essentially a plan with a start and end date. So you can review the results and make adjustments for the next time. A good branding campaign should only last for 2 to 3 months. If your brand awareness campaign less than 30 days, you are reducing the likelihood of your target audience seeing and grasping the message you’re sharing. Remember, people don’t live on Facebook, Instagram, and whatever social media platform even if some people tell you that the younger generation does. Nor, do you want to keep a poster up for years because it starts to look faded too.  Keep it a few months and thank people that engage with you at the end. My final thoughts are that you don’t want your brand awareness campaign to go on longer than 45 days because then you’re running into the risk of your messaging becoming stale or played out.

So what Branding Materials should my Blue Lodge use?

1. Business Cards

  1. Add your logo
  2. Add your tagline
  3. Use the back-of the-business card as an appointment card or print something unique and memorable about your blue lodge
  4. Hand out a few extra business cards in every correspondence with someone so that they can refer you
  5. Create a version of your business card as a sticker for envelopes
  6. Add your social media URLs to the card and the social media logos too
  7. Include your business card in any outbound invoices, correspondence, and give away bags
  8. Have your lodge create a list of referral partners and make sure they have enough business cards to get in their hands
    • These could include relevant businesses, banks, libraries, chamber of commerce offices and so on

2. Letterhead & Envelopes

  1. Add your phrase or tag line on the letterhead and the envelope.
  2. Make custom letterhead personal letters and/or notes for brothers to use regularly
  3. Use your lodge letterhead for printing invoices.
  4. Create note cards as letterhead for more informational communication
  5. Match your envelopes with your letterhead.
  6. Add unusual text on your letterhead and envelopes to make them stand out.
  7. Consider larger branded envelopes for presentations.

4. Brochures

  1. Of course, match the brochures with your branding design
  2. Create a basic brochure but create additional brochures for different age groups of your target audience in your community
  3. Add call-to-action information so prospects can order: email, call, visit, or go to your website
  4. Include any instructions on how to visit and when to visit your lodge
  5. Create an area on the brochure that contains contact info for questions

5. Outdoor Signage

  1. If you have an outdoor sign at your blue lodge make sure that it’s in good shape and visible from a distance.
  2. If not, have the lodge vote on installing one
  3. Keep outdoor signs simple and eye-catching colors
  4. Don’t use ALL CAPS for the entire signage and limited your fonts to 2 styles.
  5. Define each yard sign’s purpose and stick to it.
  6. Consider using door or window decals to clearly display hours of operation.

6. Case Studies

  1. Add some on your website
  2. Choose examples from ideal local target audience that feature your fraternal benefits
  3. Write case studies with a focus on the problem being solved and how your blue lodge solved the problem.
  4. Keep your Masonic case studies short and to the point.
  5. Use your local speaking style versus canned jargon such as  “ASK1 2B1”
  6. Add visuals from your lodge to keep it localized
  7. Link to case studies from your content such as your Masonic Blue Lodge officers’ page or about us page or contact us page
  8. Rotate your case studies on your lodge’s website home page regularly
  9. Pull testimonial quotes from case studies and feature them in your marketing materials and reference the case study is available on your website
  10. Create infographics from case studies and post/promote on social media.
  11. Create videos from your case studies.

7. Testimonials

  1. Use your lodge name and brand name in every testimonial
  2. Select those testimonials that speak directly to your targeted predetermined audience
  3. Feature relevant testimonials on website pages.
  4. Feature testimonials on your Facebook Pages.
  5. Take pictures of written testimonials and upload them as images on your “Google My Business” page.

8. Explanation Video

  1. Create a 90-second video explaining your local lodge
  2. Include a link to your video on your business cards and brochures
  3. Share your ‘explanation’ video on social media
  4. In the video put yourself in your targeted audience’s shoes. Then, imagine you are the audience
    • What opportunity or solution are you offering?
    • What’s the benefit to your viewer?
    • What action do you want them to take?

9. Flyers

  1. Have the lodge agree to create a branded flyer template
  2. Print it on quality glossy style paper
  3. Design individual flyers for each target audience segment
  4. Add testimonials to flyers
  5. Create a PDF of your flyer and send links to brothers so they can email it
  6. Distribute your flyers to your local small businesses.
  7. If you have the time, visit neighborhoods to deliver or leave at the door.
  8. Post online on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin or Pinterest.

10. Postcards

  1. Have your lodge agree to create a branded postcard design that complements your brochures, cards, and so on
  2. Use postcards as invitations to events.
  3. Use testimonials on your postcard.
  4. Get new homeowners aware of your lodge by using a targeted mailing list or USPS EveryDoor Direct Mail (EDDM).
  5. Distribute postcards to your local businesses.

11. Posters

  1. Once again, have your lodge vote on to create posters templates
  2. State your message in 5 words or less
  3. Highlight your local lodge’s values and mission
  4. Feature a Brother of your lodge
  5. Feature a testimonial
  6. Choose the right location – make it relevant
  7. Create posters focused on how you serve the community
  8. Remember to put your contact info, lodge address, and website name at the bottom of the poster.
  9. Get a highly artistic brother to make the posters

12. T-Shirts

  1. Optimize your logo that is easily embroidered or printed on clothing.
  2. Select pre-approved clothing styles
  3. Agree on the tagline or other branded language on the shirt

13. Promotional Pens, Mugs, Key chains, and more!

  1. Spread the visibility of your brand on useful items like mobile phone battery chargers and jump drives
  2. Have a collection of branded items when visitors and guests can take home.
  3. Have a collection of branded items for special event tables
  4. Include your lodge’s website and logo on these items
  5. Give out branded promotional products throughout the community such as churches, schools, sports leagues, and other civic clubs too.
Please keep up with the Freemasonry Report

I will be writing more articles to help grow the fraternity and I hope this information was helpful to you. If you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, I am creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? Good news – I am creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

4 SEO TIPS YOUR FREEMASON LODGE NEEDS ON ITS WEBSITE!

The Freemasonry Report

4 SEO TIPS YOUR FREEMASON LODGE

NEEDS ON IT’S WEBSITE!

Learn the ways you can quickly build or rebuild your Masonic Lodge’s Website.

My goal with this section of the Freemasonry Report is to help brothers make their lodges thrive!  The only way to do that is by sharing tips and tricks that actually matter for creating a healthy Masonic Lodge. Now, be aware, I have been building business brands for over ten years in my entrepreneurial endeavors outside of Freemasonry and I am glad to have the chance to help you now.

This information is totally free to take and use in because I have years of experience helping local Florida Lodges create a community awareness for themselves. Believe it or not, I am often referred to other lodges because I do this as my passion project.

Being a Freemason for many years, I know every dollar counts and I want to make certain if you have spend even a penny it is money well spent.

Here is my SEO Tip that actually works – #1 Use Heading Tags Throughout Your Content

Once again, I am so glad you are reading this ‘SEO tips that actually work’ blog article to improve your Masonic Lodges website or possibly to start building it correctly. While a website’s sitemap is useful for helping search engine crawlers see how your site is organized, it doesn’t help them make sense of the individual content.

Individual content – what is that?  Good question. It is the written text inside your website’s page or blog post.  Generally, it is explaining something relevant to your Masonic pursuits in your local area.  Sometimes, it could be a small passion project that the Worshipful Master has set for the year or maybe it is a local project your lodge has committed to for some special reason.

Wordpress logo

For that, you’ll need to use heading tags. Okay, Mr. Freemasonry Report Content Creator – Ed Pisani Jr, what is a heading tag exactly?

Great question!  These are formatting options that you can apply to section headings within your lodge’s website pages and posts. Simply stated, a heading breaks up your content to into manageable chunks for the reader and the web crawler to determine how it important to the page’s topic.

If you have a WordPress website building software it is standard with any version. You can see these settings in your WordPress editor, listed as Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on. This can be found under the “Add Media” button, you will see “Paragraph” with an arrow pointing downward. Click on it and you easily find the Heading Tags starting from 1 in large font to 6 in a much smaller font size. Not all website builders come with this – which is unbelievable to think about!

Headings tags – let’s dig deeper to understand why this SEO tip works so well.

Using these headings to structure your content accomplishes two things.

  1. It provides a visual benefit, by breaking up your text and making it easier to read. Also, crawlers pay a lot of attention to headings, using them to understand how your content is organized and what it’s about. Okay, you might be wondering, ‘why am I catering to a web crawler?’ It’s actually really easy to explain, a web crawler visits your website on a monthly basis to see what is new about it.
  2. While, the web crawlers are going into your website, it determines how you should be found online. Furthermore, it looks at how important your content is the search engines visitors and how high you should rank in a search result. So when creating posts and pages, don’t forget to use the heading options often and consistently.

Another one of my SEO Tips that actually work 

#2 Build Your Content Around Key words, Key phrases, or A Niche Idea

Chances are you’ve encountered the concept of keywords before. It is a really popular talking point in the internet marketing world. But if you are totally new the worldwide web, have no fear, I can help you understand what they are. A Keyword is exactly what it sounds like. It is a word you want to found for. An example would be “Fraternity”; “Freemasons”; and etc. But this really is not good enough.

Why, well a key word is just a word. Alot of people are looking for things online these days in terms of phrases. Such as “Freemasons near me”; “Your City Name Masonic Lodge”;  and so on.   These are short phrases that describe your content’s topic.  It is really important to define what the website’s target is. Is it men?;  Is it Dads or Granddads; or is it young professionals?

But you might choose a niche key phrase to really impact your potential audience. This niche key phrase should dig deeper into who you really want to target on online, here are a few examples to think about “social young professionals fraternity” or “Active Dads that need an evening off from everything” for a blog post that shares simple reading options for beginner readers.

By doing this, you’re predicting that a lot of people will type a related term but your niche key phrase will be shown because it goes into a more intensive web page which Google or Bing thinks their user is looking for. Understanding what a search engine is trying to share is critical and building a website that hits all the check marks helps to show you are the right fraternal organization which should show up when people are looking for this type of post.

Yoast SEO

4 SEO TIPS THAT ACTUALLY WORK FOR A FREEMASON WEBSITE!

 Choosing a ‘niche key phrase’ for each post or page and using it in various places — such as the title, the headings, and the content itself — is a common way to communicate your topic to search engine crawlers and increase the chances of showing your content in relevant searches. I strongly recommend to if you are using WordPress for your website, download the Yoast Plugin.  Yoast SEO is simply one of the strongest search engine optimization tools and I used it for all my clients. If you are a newbie and don’t have a ton of money to invest in a website – Yoast SEO offers a free version.  But, I highly suggest looking at investing in their premium version if possible. Please note, I am not making any money from Yoast SEO when recommending this plugin, so if your budget is tight – don’t buy it.

2 More Important SEO Tips to remember when building or rebuilding your Lodge’s website…

Keep in mind that these SEO tips will help grow your website’s authority online over time. Generally, overtime is 6 months to 24 months and it is based on the quality of your website overall. So really take time to volunteer to build up the website. Remember great SEO happens overtime not overnight – you can find ways to cut corners or cheat when it comes to SEO but once the Search Engine Bots/Crawlers figure it out – your website and all the work you put into it is toast. Literally, you will be on the front page one day and the 61st page the following day – be careful to do things that would not hurt your lodge’s website.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #1: Change Your ‘Permalink’ Structure

Permalinks are the permanent URLs that point to your site’s individual posts, pages, and other content. This is important because it helps your Masonic Lodge’s website visitors understand why they should visit the page.

Furthermore, it allows them to decide what other pages might be helpful for them while visiting your website. Think about it this way, they’re what people will use to reference and link back to your site.

The permalink URL appearance matters because attracts “the right” visitors to your site. Clear, descriptive links that describe the content available at the permalink. Thus it makes it easier for search engines to make sense of and tend to get a ranking boost. WordPress offers a number of automatic permalink plugins – so take time to really think using WordPress.  If you do move forward with WordPress, there are a number of website ready theme to take advantage of to help speed up getting your lodge’s web presence launched quickly.

Generally, permalinks are based around numbers (such as the Plain and Numeric). Using numbers isn’t the best way to get the attention of anyone or any bot simply because it conveys very little useful information to search engines. Instead, you’re best off with the Post Name (or Custom Name) structure since it communicates clearly what the linked content is about. You can easily change your permalink structure in WordPress by visiting your site’s back end and navigating to Settings > Permalink. Again, that is mainly for WordPress Websites and not the many other website builder programs that may or may not allow you to do this.

SEO Tip #2: Create a ‘Sitemap’ 

Why is a sitemap so important? A sitemap is a list of all the pages and other content on your Masonic Blue Lodge website. It usually is organized into a hierarchy similar to a table of contents in a book. It provides a quick way to see how your site is laid out and what it includes. While these sitemaps were once designed to help users navigate websites.

Today, they have a primary purpose to communicate information to search engine bots (also known as crawlers). The web crawlers or bots will report back their findings on to the search engine to determine your content’s value to the visitor. The less value that can reported back – the lower your search engine ranking.

While the debate rages about if a sitemap actually boosts your ranking on search engines . Most professionals building websites recommend or automatically do this step because ‘why chance it’ – they are interested in hurting your search engine ranking(s). If you are volunteering to do this for your blue lodge and are the official ‘webmaster’ – then just do it.

It’s still a valuable SEO tool most specifically with Google, Bing, and numerous other smaller search engines because they want to have it uploaded to their database to track the website’s updates and changes – Google calls this the ‘Google Search Console’ platform. It enables crawlers to see all of the pages on your site and understand how they relate to one another.

Hopefully by adding a sitemap, you and your local blue lodge are making it easier for search engines to index your site. Therefore, it helps to present relevant content in user searches. Adding a sitemap to WordPress is simple — you can do so with a targeted plugin such as Google XML Sitemaps, or through a comprehensive SEO tool such as Yoast SEO, Math Rank, or Meta SEO. But don’t worry, there are numerous plugins that offer this so select one to find easy to use.

Of course, you want to be smart about the way you use these SEO tips when it comes to your blue lodge. That is why I wanted to write this article and share the benefits it can make for your online presence. For example, it’s best to avoid ‘keyword stuffing’, or forcing your keyword into too many places so that it appears unnatural or spammy. I bet you are getting worried – don’t my brother because Freemasonry is loaded with professionals willing and able to help you out. Just take a moment to look at your lodge’s roster and find a local Mason that can help you if necessary. You never know, he may even get fired up to start attending lodge meetings more if you reach out for help.

Well, I will be writing more articles to help grow the fraternity and I hope this information was helpful to you. If you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, I am creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? Good news – I am creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

5 ideas to encourage more Men to become Freemasons

Freemasonry Report Logo 2020

Freemasonry Report Logo 2020

5 ideas to encourage more Men to become Freemasons

Why you should read this blog post from an author will never probably ever meet in person. My ideas come from my years engaged in the fraternity in as Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, and as well as numerous other positions that were appointed.  The experiences I bring to the table are only meant to help you succeed. Either way, every brothers experiences matter and in a world where the internet makes us a little closer, hwy not share stuff like this. If it helps one brother or one lodge in the world, this article was worth writing. Enjoy.

1. Introduce Yourself.

Nothing stops a Freemason Lodge to setup a table at a local event. From a Farmers Market to the National Night Out, get a table at the event and share what you like about the fraternity.  Invite a man to visit your lodge and take a tour to see it. Remember, to ask the visitors at your table what they want to get out the fraternity.  It’s important to know what incoming candidates want but it is also stick to the fraternity’s values. Remember, we are a thousand year old fraternity, so if a potential candidate wants something that is unMasonic move on to a new conversation with a different person.

2. Engage The Community.

Participate in a program at Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, or Kiwanis Club.  Please note, this idea is great for a brother that is good at public speaking. Talk about how the fraternity is active in helping support the community.  Explain how the fraternity helping the community and it’s membership in detail. Then offer the club members to visit your lodge building and take a tour.  You want to establish good relations with the club and it’s membership because you may be able to setup an event together, recruit some of the membership of the club into the fraternity and possibly get connected with other family members of club members that may want to join the fraternity.

3. Reflect On Your Efforts.

Ironically, so many times, we forget to consider what is working and what is not. But, what is even worse – we don’t stop to consider the ‘why’.

Set aside a time for the lodge brothers to look back at the last year. Ask them to write down on paper, a program that did not work. Afterwards, ask them to write the way it should have worked and the possible results that should have been attained.  By looking at the product of the desired result, your brothers can really determine if this is worth doing and if there is a better avenue to achieve the same results.

By reflecting, it allows the lodge to consider the goals and how they need to align better with the craft. If  you see that the goals don’t align with the mission of the blue lodge maybe it should be recommended that the lodge agrees on not doing it again. If it was somewhat successful make sure that the right fixes are implemented to get it right. Your lodge is too busy with degrees and numerous other things to want to duplicate something that isn’t working right.

Sometimes tradition make brothers think that they need to do it, but ask if it will help grow the fraternity in membership or not.  Maybe the answer is having numerous smaller events vs. just one big event. Or maybe the answer is looking at community sponsored events that are looking for additional help. Each lodge’s reflections will be vastly different and the solutions will be different too. Remember, that reflecting once a quarter will drive more brothers to speak up and get engaged in the success of the lodge.

4. Make Printed and/or Social Media Pieces

This is a great idea because everyone is more engaged these days on the web or in person.  To have business cards printed with the lodge’s dinner hour plus contact information, logo, and address works. In my lodge, we went to numerous city based events and handed out thousands of cards to people in our community.

Did we get thousands for dinner at a lodge meeting – no.  But, did we get a few – yes. Some of those guests later went on to become brothers. Further, we showed the community – Freemasonry is alive and well. Plus we aren’t hiding either. I have found it was a great way to seal a conversation with a prospective new candidate.

Simply by introducing myself, trying to make a connection, handing them a business card with our dinner hour (I always offered them a free dinner on me), and then inviting to talk to other brothers at our table worked.  My brothers would invite him to the meeting. Now several men are showing interest in a potential new candidate. Lastly, the candidate may feel like this group is for him because people are interested in him. In the meantime, this individual has our contact information and communicate with the Secretary who will be able to assist him in any way if necessary.

Okay, now on to the web.  This is a mysterious place from websites to Social Media to apps. It can be overwhelming.  My recommendation is setup a website and related Social Media business style pages. Facebook and LinkedIn are my top two places to connect with men online. Facebook is heavily used by most people but LinkedIn is used heavily by young professionals and active professionals. By placing your lodge’s brand on these platforms you are more likely to connect with the right type of men. Further, it stronger cements your lodge when people are looking for you online and they find you. Lastly, create a “My Business Page” on Google, it will literally drive people looking for Freemasonry in your community to you.

5. Create a Series of Small Events for Potential Candidates

During my life as a Mason, I spoken with brothers that strongly wanted to make Freemasonry the best kept secret in town. Why keep this fraternity a secret?  We are an organization of secret but not a secret organization. Keep in mind that creating small events will actually get guys interested. These small events should be things that you actually do regularly.  Do you like eating out , do you like shooting guns, do you like smoking cigars, or maybe it is playing cards or something else – invite them to join you.

You need to encourage the brothers to talk about these small events regularly and invite people they know to them. It should be happening everywhere you are, your work, at home, at the snack shop, at your service club meeting, and even on the sidewalk. Sure these small events are fun and exciting.

Take the time to invite or escort some potential new candidates personally and especially those introverted good men who might not go on their own.  And once you get them there, don’t abandon them. Introduce them to the brothers in attendance and share things they have in common. Be sure that you are checking up on them during the event. If you have really extroverted men, let them mingle on their own, but don’t make them feel like you just dropped them off and then disappeared.

Make an effort to showcase the best attributes of your Fraternity everywhere you go. Eat meals together, go to community events together, hang out around town together, and wear your logos when you do these things. People will associate you, your brothers and your/their actions with the Fraternity. Both the good and the bad. Be mindful of this.

Did you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, I am creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? Good news – I am creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

Fundraisers that don’t require frying anything!

Fundraisers that don’t require frying anything!

Are you tired on Fried Chicken Fundraisers? Here are 20 fundraisers that don’t require frying anything!

I think over the years, decades, darn I say centuries… Freemasons have become interconnected with Fried Chicken Fundraisers. Well my brothers – today is the day it ends!  Yes, I am giving you some fundraising ideas that don’t include deep frying a chicken. Enjoy and share this post if you want and also include this post to your meeting minutes – just keep the meeting going a little longer. (Just kidding.)

But, I want to introduce myself and why you should consider reading this blog article.  First off, I am a Master Mason for over 15 years and Past Master as well. My Masonic experiences include helping with District functions, being a 32nd Degree Mason, also being involved in the Tall Cedars, and I am a York Rite Mason too. Furthermore, my experiences in Freemasonry doesn’t make me “Superman” but it does mean that I have useful knowledge that can help possibly your Masonic Lodge.

Okay so let’s get started.

1. Fashion show

Yup, I just went there – got a local high school or college in the area? Well, hit up the Goodwill and do a fundraiser with them. You buy and supply the clothing for the volunteers models. Auction off the clothing to guests you invite and also the brothers too. This is a great holiday fundraiser or theater group fundraiser. You can donate the clothing to theater groups for costumes purposes and the money raised can go to the local high school or college. It’s a win-win-win!

Don’t have a catwalk? No biggie – just open up an area in the lodge and roll out an old red carpet. Done!

Got some fake fashion jewelry or odd looking couture? You actually don’t need any of that to pull off this fundraiser fashion show. Many times, the school will make certain the student models are ready before the event happens. All you need is floor space, which you have within your local blue lodge.  Maybe you can make some one-of-a-kind fashion show benefit t-shirts for sell and bring in even more money for the school.

You would be surprised how a theater staff members and theater students would be very willing to put themselves out there and be goofy. You’ll be selling tickets, auction fashion styles and selling the t-shirts merchandise in no time.  It’s a lot of work but it’s for the right purpose.

So bring it before the craft for them to vote on at your next stated communication and get the ball rolling.

2. Auction a Handyman or Have a Silent Auction

So, do you have a lot of handy brothers in your local lodge?  Maybe they would be willing to auction themselves as a ‘handyman for a day’ to someone in the community. Many people need things fixed and might be willing to show up to an auction that helps a local youth charity. The Freemasons are one of the premier fundraising go to groups when we want to help local kids programs.  This works great if the ‘handyman’ in question is someone well known or beloved in the community.

Think outside the box on this one. Your Handyman might get dressed up for the auction in his best working clothes and tools to show the bidders his preferred skills. The winner’s choice handyman can help them fix something and also their donation impacts the youth locally too  So get your willing volunteer brothers to get into character to really sell the bidding process.

Also, you can a host a silent auction on the same night too.  Get some auction gift baskets and gift cards from local stores. Get creative with the auction items, make some based on sports and others on other things that people would want to buy.

Have a few hotel getaways too, try to think about experiences instead of things. Perhaps you have a donor willing to grant access to his vacation home for the weekend. Or maybe you have a donor who would cook a home cooked meal for the a few auction winners.  Both are easy and some people really are great cooks and people know they are going to get a great experience out of it.

3. Treasure Hunt

This is a great way to show off all the Masons in the community. Ask your brothers to participate in a town wide treasure hunt fundraiser for the community to get involved in.  Different brothers need to allow visitors to come to their office or storefront looks for treasure hunt clues.

Have a group of places for people to find and get clues at the end of the treasure hunt, have a great big reception at the Masonic Lodge. Spaghetti is easy and salad is always a safe bet too.  Both are inexpensive to purchase. Make a trophy for the winners and a plaque for the group that took the longest too. Appreciate everyone the participates in the fundraiser.

This fundraiser is great for pet rescues, service dog groups, and pet foster groups as the recipients of the money raised.  Half of the population are pet friendly and having a dog walking with a group of participants is a great way for them to see the good the money they are donating are going to.

Your Masonic Lodge can be the go-to for Pet Rescues and other animal programs that need support. And it is good to be seen as the fraternity that speaks up for our four legged buddies.  Who knows maybe a few people that donating will get excited about Freemasonry and recommend a few good men to your local lodge.

4. Balloon Pop Challenge

This idea is inexpensive and family friendly. Sell tickets for people to pop balloons.  Yup, that’s the concept for the fundraiser and it works great for the local sporting teams that need money. You sell tickets and give the money to a little league style program in your community.  These groups always need money for away games or basic supplies like bats and gloves for the kids.

Your Masonic Lodge can host the event at sports field or at your Blue Lodge.  The idea is when you fill the balloons hide prizes inside a select few, and sell the chance to pop a consider number of balloons to event-goers for a chance to “pop for prizes.”  It’s simple as writing the prize on a slip of paper and putting it in the balloon before you blow it up.

Make it fun for everyone – bring a few ear muffins for the little ones that don’t like the popping sound.  Your Masonic Lodge can raise a bunch of money for the sports team and the coaches will be interested in learning more about the fraternity.

5. Open House Fundraiser

Invite the public to tour your charity grounds and see what happens behind the scenes. From showing off your Masonic Aprons to walking people around the lodge room – this is an easy way to show off the fraternity a little.  Give a history of famous masons and how the fraternity has been a positive impact on the local community.  Talk about local business owners and elect officials that have links to your lodge too. Those who buy tickets to the tour feel involved at the ground level.

After the tour, host a cocktail reception and have participants buy their reception goblets prior to the tour. Make certain the goblets are a collectors addition and that are also a wildly inflated price to be donated to your cause. If your Grand Lodge does not allow for alcohol to be served in the lodge, then make it a ‘Designated Driver Celebration’. Where everyone is the Designated Driver and everyone is going to get home safe.  Light refreshments such as cheeses, crackers, and veggies platters are good to offer too.

An open house fundraiser is great for charities that don’t have a physical location or maybe so new that they can’t afford to host a big expensive fundraiser. Trust me it is not hard to find these groups and some actually have hundreds or even thousands of fans wanting to support them too.

6. Pamper-Them festival

How many times have we had a terrible ladies program at an official visit or nothing at all?  What if your Masonic District hosted a pamper-them party for the ladies, the lodges and brothers support their lady to get pampered for a few hours while the official visit is happening. yup, the district brethren are dropping the dollars to pamper their spouses and your district is also making money for a charity at the same time. Bragging rights – so many other districts would not do this.

The Grand Master and his party will be amazed to see your Masonic District is so generous and civic minded too.

Here is what you need to do – get students from the local Massage School and Cosmetology School to donate their time to the fundraiser.  Every lady will receive a massage, roses, fruit juices, tasty chocolates, and a manicure or pedicure (maybe both if the husband drops some extra donation dollars).

Make certain the schools bring the stalls for offering luxury beauty treatments, chair massage, and makeovers.  You can up-sell wellness items and jewelry or clothing from local boutiques.  This is a great way to show off for the Grand Master and I recommend raising money for ‘ local orphans’ because it’s hard to say no to children without parents to raise them.

7. And finally my favorite – the Ugly Sweater Fundraiser

We all have that one horrible sweater hidden in our closet. And I know it’s fun to break out a ‘holiday’ ugly sweater once a year. What if you can turn this awkward fashion statement into a fundraiser?

The concept is pretty easy – you challenge your lodge brothers to wear an ugly sweater all day and take selfies of themselves in town. They need to add hashtags and every selfie is a pledge to donate to the worthy cause selected.  The community will get excited about seeing the odd challenge pop up in their social media feed and get a good chuckle as well.

But, they will also see the well intention-ed purpose behind it. The worthy cause will be put in their minds and give them an idea of how Masons help the world and their community. So, it’s time to put the ugly sweaters to good use and make an awareness fundraiser with it.

Well, I will be writing more articles to help grow the fraternity and I hope this information was helpful to you. If you want more Freemasonry topics to read? Good news, I am creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? Good news – I am creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

What is a Masonic Grand Lodge?

What is a Masonic Grand Lodge?

A Masonic Grand Lodge is the supreme governing body that supervises and charters the particular Blue Lodges within its jurisdiction. The Grand Lodge will set a particular geographical area called it’s jurisdiction. A jurisdiction is sometimes state boundary, national boundary, or an agreed-upon geographical area in reference to a neighboring Grand Lodge. Each Grand Lodge is made up of Brother Masons who are in good standing with a particular subordinate Lodge in the Grand Lodge.

When several Grand Lodges claim the same jurisdictional area and/or claiming overlapping areas, each Grand Lodge will debate the oldest with legitimate documents from various other Grand Lodges. When claims are debated, normally the Grand Lodge would consider the other Grand Lodge as Clandestine or Irregular, therefore no Mason will allow or authorize to sit with the other Grand Lodge’s particular blue lodge meeting. Further, a particular Blue Lodge Mason will not be allowed to hold any type of official Masonic Communication with the other Grand Lodge’s particular blue lodge or any of its brothers.

How do would you start a Grand Lodge?

First, a convention must be held of the lodges in the area. At the convention, it needs to be determined by the Craft in the area that a Grand Master ought to be chosen to preside over the Craft in the area.  Generally, this area can be a State or Country, it is really based on the Craft in to decide in that area.

Next, during the convention, a committee will need to be appointed. Its purpose is to prepare a statement giving the reasons for such an action. This committee returns at some future period to make a report to Craft.

This report of the committee will cite the fact that the chartered Blue Lodges had been established under distinct, regular, and in some cases separate authorities. The report would identify the benefit or lack of a benefit and possibly or impossibly of having a Grand Master appointed by a foreign authority. If creating a Grand Lodge in this area is a matter of necessity the committee will report the reasons to the Craft.  It has been recorded that the Mother Grand Lodges have claimed the right to elect their officers distinct and separate from any foreign power.  The committee would then commend that the Craft of the area would and should be privileged to claim the same right, which is a right that Freemasons in all-time had enjoyed.

Can a Masonic Grand Lodge be chartered by another Grand Lodge?

No, individual lodges are chartered to a Grand Lodge. When necessary, these lodges can form a new Grand Lodge based on numerous issues based on distance and various other factors. The Mother Grand Lodge(s) of the Particular Blue Lodges generally will give its blessing of the new Grand Lodge, which will last forever.

Who is in charge of a Grand Lodge?

The official leader of the Grand Lodge is the Grand Master. The Grand Lodge Officers assist the Grand Master in his duties to effectively run the Grand Lodge.  Generally, in most Grand Lodges, the elected officers are as follows: GRAND MASTER; DEPUTY GRAND MASTER; DISTRICT GRAND MASTER; SENIOR GRAND WARDEN; JUNIOR GRAND WARDEN; GRAND TREASURER; and GRAND SECRETARY. Please note, each Grand Lodge may have its own set of elected officers and how their titles are spelled may differ from one Grand Lodge to another.

Furthermore, in many Grand Lodges, there are a number of appointed officers, but be aware in some Grand Lodges more than one person might be appointed in a given role, which are as follows: GRAND MARSHAL;  GRAND CHAPLAIN; GRAND LECTURER; SENIOR GRAND DEACON; JUNIOR GRAND DEACON; SENIOR GRAND STEWARD; JUNIOR GRAND STEWARD; GRAND SWORD BEARER; GRAND STANDARD BEARER; GRAND PURSUIVANT; GRAND ORGANIST; GRAND MUSICIAN;  GRAND TYLER; & GRAND HISTORIAN.

Some Grand Lodges have a Board of Directors to help the Grand Master run the Grand Lodge. While others tend to utilize the Past Grand Masters will various important projects within the Grand Lodge.  Modern-day Grand Lodges also employ a group support staff members as well. A Grand Lodge may employ a few professionals or numerous professionals based on the needs of the organization. Let’s look at some of the typical business office staff positions: Business Manager; Grand Secretary (which is sometimes a paid position); Grand Treasurer (which is also sometimes a paid position);
Comptroller; Executive Director; Staff Accountant; Accounts Payable/Insurance; Office Support Staff; Communications & Development Director;
Associate Director; Grand Lodge Library Director;  Webmaster; IT Coordinator; Supply Department Director; and a Building Manager.

Lastly, in the State of Pennsylvania, the Grand Master is called Right Worshipful whereas most other Grand Lodges call their Grand Master ‘Most Worshipful’. This is interesting because, in so many Grand Lodges, the title Right Worshipful is designated to the Grand Master’s District Deputy Grand Masters. His Grand Lodge Appointees help manage the various districts around the Grand Lodge.  The District Deputy Grand Master is also appointed to be his voice and they are the official Grand Lodge Representative for a Masonic District and generally speak on behalf of the Grand Master.

What is a Grand Orient?

A Grand Orient is another name for Grand Lodge. It is popular in some European countries such as France and Italy.  The Grand Orient of France is the oldest and the most important masonic obedience governing bodies in continental Europe. Born in 1728 as the First Grand Lodge of France, it took its current form and name in 1773.  At this time, I can not find any clear reason for the use of the term orient vs. lodge. The first known usage of the word ‘orient’ dates back to between 1755 and 1766. When the Vénérables of the lodges of the capital, gathered in a “Grand Lodge of the Masters of the Orient of Paris known as France”, to try to establish their authority on the whole of French Masonry.

Did you want more Freemasonry 101 topics to read? Good news, I am creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? Good news – I am creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

20 Lodge Activities That Will Excite Your Brothers

20 Lodge Activities That Will Excite Your Brothers

Sometimes, I find that some blue lodges have a creative funk. The meeting minutes seem to go on forever and brothers can’t decide what day to host another Fried Chicken Fundraiser. Maybe your lodge is lacking new lodge activities??  Well, don’t worry because I am writing this blog article to give dozens of new ideas to energize your local lodge or any lodge really. It is important to remember that planning your annual year should start months before you are elected to a chair in the lodge. With that being said let’s get started!

1 – Conducting a brainstorming session during your meeting.

During your stated communication. Take a break to explain to the brothers how to plan and conduct meetings. This can be a great learning opportunity for new and veteran brothers to weigh in on ways to conduct a meeting using an agenda and best practices that have worked in the past. Further, it is a great chance for the brothers to brainstorm ways to make the meeting move quicker and more efficiently.

2 – Allow Brothers to give impromptu speeches.

Many brothers look forward to being part of the meeting versus just listening in to the officers’ talk at the meeting.

Encourage brothers to present one to two-minute impromptu speeches on assigned topics.  These assigned topics can be posted in the lodge all month long or it can be mentioned at the prior meeting. Either way, the brothers will be excited to share something with the lodge and have their names added to the meeting minutes for speaking briefly about an interesting topic.

Remember, this topic doesn’t need to be totally Masonic in nature, it could be a fun topic that the brothers can respond positively to, such as Charity Updates, Youth Programs happening, Sporting Events, a brother’s favorite hobby.  During my year as Master of my lodge, I would regularly request brothers to answer a random question, so the entire Craft could get to know each other better.  Personally, I loved listening to the stories and funny anecdotes they would share with the Craft.

3 – Organize Brothers to present prepared speeches.

Ask three to four brothers to present speeches based on projects from Masonic Leadership Manuals from your Grand Lodge. Or ask a brother to review a chapter from your Grand Lodge’s Digest or By-Laws. Other fun speeches can be topics such as: public speaking 101, a historical Masonic Techincal Speech, using vocal variety and superior body language when giving a tour of the lodge,  how to use non-verbal communication/gestures when reading books to elementary school students when representing Freemasonry, and of course speaking speed / speaking to be understood for a Masonic Degree.

4 – Roller Skating or Ice Skating

You know the fraternal fellowship doesn’t have to be only in the stated or called communication. Here is one that can be done at any time of year, but will serve as a great function at the end of the fall and beginning of the spring. Simply call the local ice/roller rink and rent the place out for a couple of hours.

After skating, invite the brothers / their families and your prospective candidates back to your lodge for hot chocolate / cold soda and snacks. This is a great way to introduce new possible candidates and their families to the lodge building.

5 – Card Tournaments can be good lodge activities for the older brothers in your lodge

Have a card tournament targeting those brothers that not regularly able to attend a stated communication. Get them engaged even if their work schedule forces them to miss the stated meeting. A lot of men enjoy playing cards with their families.

Set a predetermined game theme such as Play Hearts, UNO, Euchre, or Rummy. Get prizes donated to entice participation and of course offer refreshments to all those attending – Popcorn and Potato Chips are always a crowd favorite.

6 – Board Game Night

Hold a “Game Night” with a board game competition: Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Life, Risk, Clue, Scruples, and Scatergories, or the old school favorites like Shoots and Ladders or The Game of Life.  Also include a video game competition with Play Station, Nintendo We, or kick it old school with the original video games from the 70s and 80s. What you need is a TV and lots of small prizes for the winners.  Ask brothers with their families and invited guests to switch games every 15 to 20 minutes to keep the energy in the room on high.

7 – Go Golfing – yes lodge activities can always happen outside of the lodge building

Get out those old argyles and knickers, put on your golf shoes, find that old alligator shirt, grab the golf bag, pull out your putter and put on some sunblock…then, hit the course!

The golf course for this type of event could be something as easy as the local miniature golf course or upscale country club. Either way, get the brothers broken into groups of 4 and have them get to know each other better.  Brothers and guests should be paired into teams who compete for the lowest score once the course has been finished. Design scorecards for the teams, or even use scorecards from a local golf course.  The winning team buys lunch for the losing team and the other teams are requested to organize the next golf outing.

If you want to go a little crazy, collect a few dollars and distribute a golf logo shirt. If you are trying to keep to a tight budget, head to the lodge and enjoy some hot dogs and/or polish sausages.

8 – Go Late Night Bowling

Reserve a few lanes at your local bowling alley for after-hours or late night games.  Enjoy playing with the brothers and their spouses until we hours of the morning! Dress casual or make lodge bowling shirts if you like.

Every couple of frames, make brothers do something wacky like spinning around 3 times before their shots.  Or ask brothers to trade lanes to help a brother out…

9 – Sponsor a Kickball Elementary School Class Tournament

Remember this game from elementary school gym class and/or recess? Well, not every school can afford gym supplies, so your lodge can help them out and buy them the kickball supplies. The Brothers can sponsor fixing up an open field, help as coaches and umpires for the kickball tournament, and invite the elementary school students to play on the teams. This should not be boys against girls, but classroom against classroom!

Afterward, get prizes for the student players at the end of the tournament. Further, invite the Teachers & Principals to the lodge for special recognition. This could potentially increase the membership if some of the teachers and principals are men.

10 – Day at the Driving Range

This activity is simply what it says, a trip to the driving range. Check with the local golf course for a driving range for group rates and availability. Of course, brothers can bring their own clubs or they can rent them there too. Golf pros will be excited to assist your members with their swing. Maybe if you have a win-win relationship happen, some brothers start going to the driving range regularly together while the Golf Pro might be inspired to consider joining the lodge.

You can set up ‘just for fun contests’ like the longest drive or shortest drive and most whiffs (i.e. completely missing the ball).  This might just bring a bit of competition and excitement to the outing.

If you a movie buff, think about having the trip to the range be thematic. Maybe the pre-or post-outing idea would be to watch movies at the lodge such as Tin Cup, Caddyshack, or Happy Gilmore.

Of course, get some small prizes for the longest drive, most ridiculous (authentic) golf outfit, and so on.

11 – Get the Wives involved – Play the Newlywed Game

This is an increasingly popular social event with young people across the country. Arrange this event just like the game show… but since there are not ever couple is married also encourage younger brothers that have been dating for a long time. It’s amazing to see couples who have been married or dating for a long time already know so much about each other.

Please note, it is important to tailor the questions to fit your brand of newlyweds (Older Brothers or Younger Brothers or a Mix of Both).

Make the Questions similar to the ones on the famous television show the game was created from. Try to make the questions more specific to dating,
married life, and Masonic events that important to your lodge and it’s families. Encourage friends of the couples on the ‘game show’ to invite their friends and family too.  Have guests and other lodge brothers who are not serving as one of the couples to be the audience.

I find it interesting that the guest and brothers that make up the audience really enjoy watching and listening to the couples argue as much as those couples who are playing the actual game. So, despite one’s introverted or extroverted nature, this event can be fun for everyone. If someone is interested, filming this with their smartphone or Go Pro that is a bonus. So get this on video… You’ll be surprised at the number of times you will view the event after it is over.

Finally, think about arranging a nice evening out for the winning couple… possibly dinner and a movie?

12 – Play Capture the Gavel

Create your own version of your child game called Capture the Flag! The goal is to capture the opposing officer’s gavel. Use squirt guns filled with colored water to squirt them. Have teams of about 5 to 15 per side.

Ask everyone to wear white t-shirts. Also, use food coloring in the squirt guns for each team. One side is red and the other side is blue.

One side is led by the Junior Warden and the other side is led by the Senior Warden. The umpires are the Past Masters and the Worshipful Master.

Organize the game into predetermined times of about fifteen minutes with four quarters. You can host this at the lodge or in a community park.

As the opposing team approaches your opposite teams Warden’s headquarters (where your gavel is located), you squirt them. If your colored water hits their shirt, they must return to their Warden’s headquarters.  After the game is over, declare a winner and present them with a team trophy. Also, have refreshments available too.

13 – Rent The Movie Theater

This is another super idea for a late-night event. And it can be a great way to introduce Freemasonry to the younger generation. Pick a popular movie in the theater and invite brothers, their families, and prospective candidates too.

Most local movie theaters have party rooms available onsite too. Promote the movie night as a free event to create awareness for the lodge in the community. Invite men in the community that might be good prospects for Freemasonry and consider inviting your local appendant bodies to come to.

Try to work out a deal with the manager/owner or get a fixed price per person or couple that includes admission, and all the popcorn
and soft drinks you can consume. If the movie has a general theme, consider coming in costume or as a character. If the movie is a sequel, the group should view the video of prequel prior to going to the theater.

If you want to save money before going to the theater, have dinner at the lodge.

14 – Thanksgiving Dinner Lodge Night In

Before people leave for Thanksgiving with their families and in-laws, consider hosting a dinner at the lodge. Cook the meal together, if possible. Play some games, watch some sports, and enjoy the good food. This can be done for almost any holiday. Plus this is a good way to make sure no brothers without family or that are widows in town don’t eat alone during the holidays.

15 – Win, Lose or Draw at the Lodge

Secure a few flip chart easels, the big fat markers, and plenty of white flip chart paper. Good news most Staples or Office Depot stores have this generally in stock, but if you want to get a better deal – head to Amazon to buy it online.

Place chairs or couches around the room, facing the easels, if brother prefers not to stand and do this activity. Select teams, again I recommend having the Senior and Junior Wardens be the team captains. Have the Worshipful Master serve as the host and the Past Masters serve as the judges. All you need to do is follow the same format as the TV show. A group of Past Masters will need to select the words or phrases that the teams will draw during the event. If you want to make it more interesting, consider cutting words and phrases out of local magazines or newspapers.

16 – Ice Cream Eating Contest & Ice Cream Social are two fun Lodge Activities brothers can enjoy

This is a great old fashion activity, where brain freezes may happen!  The ice cream eating contest should be volunteers only and the officers of the lodge that are not contestants build the ice cream contest plates with all the fixings of an ice cream sundae. Sprinkles or jimmies, chocolate syrup, walnuts, cherries, whipped cream, and of course plenty of favors of ice cream. Have several plates and you can make it into a tournament too by dividing people into teams and have a contest to see who can finish their sundae the quickest.

Everybody likes ice cream!!! So head over the grocery store and buy a ton of ice cream. This is also a great activity to engage your Masonic youth programs and local Boy Scout Programs too.

17 – Visit a Haunted House together

Halloween is meant to be a fun time of year for the community. So get connected and support a local haunted house by visiting it. If your community doesn’t have a haunted house, your lodge can vote on creating one in your building. Invite community school students and local community churches to be guests. Have the brothers dress and try to shock the guests. After the haunted tour, offer your guests hot chocolate and cookies.  Remember, this is a good chance to talk to the parents about Freemasonry and it’s youth programs for boys and girls.

18 – Cruise Ship getaway as a Lodge

Here’s a great event for the women to arrange for the men… plan a cruise. If your lodge has a lot of retired brothers, invite them to go on a cruise together. Reach out to a local travel agent and let the wives pick the places they want to visit.

There are plenty of cruise-lines that offer deals for groups and the places you can go to see are surprisingly numerous.  Now, you might be wondering – what about the younger brothers with families or just starting their first career, a weekend-long cruise is an answer.  Invite them to get away for a long weekend with their brothers and families too.  Most cruise ships have kid-friendly areas and lots of places that are set up for situations like this. My recommendation is to get a travel agent for this group too.

19 – Ballroom Dancing Lessons can be part of your annual Lodge Activities plan…

Let’s face it most Masons have a tuxedo, why not show off a little to your sweetie.  Plan a day at the local dance studio with their dance instructor. Have your brothers wear their tux and spouses/girlfriends dress in formal dresses. Find out if it is okay to serve some nice “hors d’oeuvres” and sparkling
beverages too. This is a great way to get the brothers together with their wives or girlfriends.  The goal is to have fun, learn to dance, and of course build life long friendships.

20 – Coffee House at the Lodge

Recreate your lodge into a dimly lit coffeehouse. Serve coffee drinks while listening to a performer or two. Offer an open mic section where a talented brother or guest can get up and perform. This is meant to be a chill-out style evening with good music. So refreshments should be fancy water bottles and interesting coffee mixtures. Need some ideas – just google a recipe blog for some amazing coffee drinks.  Have a volunteer brother serve as the barista for the evening and have another brother serve as the emcee. Then sit back and relax.

Did you want more ideas for lodge activities?

Good news! I have made a YouTube Channel with more content to watch, I recommend finding the Freemasonry Report on YouTube.  I will be posting 3 to 5 more ideas for lodge activities that may fire up your brothers on that channel. So watch all my videos on YouTube Today!

Did you want more Freemasonry 101 topics to read? Good news, I am creating plenty for you to enjoy! I have been spending hours creating this information, so take a moment to read each one!  Or maybe you want to find a lodge in your neck of the woods? Good news – I am creating a complete review of each Grand Lodge – it will take time but I wanted you to have this information at your fingertips!  If you want to network with other Freemasons – check out our Facebook Group / Page now!

Thanks for visiting the Freemasonry Report and we hope are enjoying reading all about Freemasonry!