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    Pop Quiz: Two Questions Every Fraternal Should Answer

    Here are a couple questions for you…

    1. What challenges keep you awake at night?
    2. How do you define success for your society – in terms of product sales, increased revenue, lodge formation, member growth, fraternal activities, volunteer hours contributed, direct financial contributions made, member satisfaction, or other factors?

    This isn’t a test.  There are no right or wrong answers.  It’s a forum to share your thoughts.  The discussion could lay the groundwork for enhancing the type and quality of service the NFCA can provide its members, and establish benchmarks for how we evaluate our societies’ performance.  Post your responses by using the comment box at the bottom of this page.


    We’ve Moved!!!

    So we moved this past week.  Only about 150 yards from where we were, but you still have to do all the same things that you’d do if you moved across the country.  Thankfully, I have a dedicated staff who handled the relocation process seamlessly.  (I made sure to be out of the office on moving day…)  And hopefully you didn’t experience any inconvenience in trying to contact the staff or in receiving information from the association.

    For the record, our new address is:

    1301 West 22nd Street, Suite 700
    Oak Brook, IL 60523

    All the electronic contact information – phone, e-mail, Web site – remains the same. 

    Why did we move?  Well, we reduced the size of the staff late in 2008 and our old space was just a little too big for us.  With our lease coming due, we decided to see if we could find space that would be a better fit for us and save the members some money.  We accomplished both of those objectives in spades, because if there is one benefit of the economic recession, it’s that office space is plentiful and landlords are willing to deal.  Give us another couple of weeks to get the last few items out of boxes and a few pictures on the walls, and then stop by and see us on your next visit to the Chicago area.


    What once was old is new again…

    One of the most interesting parts of any move – particularly a move to a smaller space, which requires you to thin the herd of stuff you’ve collected over the years – is looking through the old files and seeing what was important to the NFCA and its members decades ago.  Guess what issues topped the list?  That’s right, solvency, relevance, and mergers (oh my…).

    If there is an upside to this “analysis of the past,” it’s recognizing how far we’ve come in the last couple of years.  Some significant merger activity has taken place – strategic mergers rather than shotgun weddings – and we’re on the cusp of getting three segments of the fraternal cooperative project (compliance, procurement, and retail banking) off the ground, too.  Our willingness to engage in grassroots political action has resulted in the defeat of several onerous state legislative proposals that would have repealed the fraternal tax exemption.  We’ve enhanced the way we’re measuring the value of our fraternal activities.  And society executives are looking for new ways to improve their organizations and the fraternal system.  These are good things.

    Want to learn more about the creative ways fraternals and NFCA are addressing the challenges we’re facing on the political, operational, and community service fronts?  Want to acquire the information and skills to become a better executive and advocate for the fraternal system?  Come join your peers at one of the upcoming Section Mid-Year Meetings.  I guarantee you’ll walk away not only smarter, but taller and better looking than when you walked in…


    And don't forget…

    Be sure to enter your answers (in the comment box below) to the two questions at the top of this blog post.  In this case, sharing your quiz answers is a good thing… and encouraged!

    3 Responses

    1. Very interesting topic Joe! Besides the usual challenges of member growth, sales and premium growth, and income and financial solvency, I would say one of the biggest challenges is how to get inactive societies throughout your organization active again. Effort is made from the state office as well as local directors to no avail. Is there a point in time when you need to ‘cut your losses’ and merge these societies with others that are more active? In that same vein, I know how much time in effort is required to charter a new society and I hate to think about ‘undoing’ something that members of ours started over 100 years ago in some cases. I would be interested to hear from other fraternals on this matter.
      Secondly, I kind of answered this question with my first answer: member growth, sales and premium growth, and income and financial solvency. We have been stressing volunteerism and fundraising over the past few years….moreso than in previous years and we have seen more activity. Our Matching Grant program has taken off and more and more societies are taking part in this giving KJT more exposure in these areas…….will it lend itself to increased membership, premium and income? We can only hope.

    2. As the new Fraternal Director in my organization, the thing that keeps me up at night is two-fold; (1) how can my organization be more relevant in the lives of our young adult members and (2) how do I encourage these persons, and inactive members of all ages, to become involved in our lodges? This is an issue I feel is resounding through the entirety of Fraternal Societies nationwide. Our organization is based in the Boomer generation, so naturally our lodge activities and events are often geared to this age group. Our lodges also plan a number of activities for the youngest generation, those under age 14, as they are much more open as to where their elders wish for them to be involved. But the middle generations, especially those aged 18-24, are a ‘tough nut to crack.’ We have adjusted to the digital world with a newly updated (and still-evolving) website and a presence in social media, both of which are receiving positive feedback. But we want to do more than just talk TO our young adult members, we want them to talk WITH us as they will one day take over the reigns of our society. I have researched the Millenial Generation rather thoroughly, and feel I have a decent understanding of what they are looking for…but am still dealing with how to engage them.
      I define success as achieving a higher level of involvement from our members; seeing that they are actively participating in events, that they are helping their local churches and communities and that they are working together with other lodges to share best practices. I want them to be ambassadors of our organization. I’m actively working on these goals.

    3. Thanks so much for your thought-provoking comments. I’d like to hear from others out there — both through these postings and through discussion at upcoming Section meetings. We are organizations dedicated to providing benefits to our members and helping others who most need it. By sharing stories of our challenges — and ways we are attempting to face them — we can help other societies continue to fulfill their missions and remain relevent in both the financial and fraternal arenas.

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