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    Expanding the Fraternal Community

    Perhaps the most important among the many positive findings from our 2011 consumer research projects was the power of both the word and the concept of “community.” Folks who didn’t have the slightest idea what a fraternal benefit society was (or whose notion of one was based on reruns of “The Honeymooners” or the toga party from “Animal House”) immediately warmed to the “community” aspect of the fraternal business model.

    After only the most basic description of who fraternals are and what they do, the individuals in the focus groups instinctively understood that we secure the financial futures of people who share a common community bond and then use our resources – both capital from our financial services operations and the volunteerism of our members – to improve the well being of the communities in which we live and work. They embraced the idea that individuals could join forces to take care of themselves AND take care of others – the bedrock on which our business model is built.

    The American Fraternal Alliance can serve in similar capacity, being the connective tissue that allows the fraternal community to share ideas, success stories, and best practices so that you can better serve your current members and enhance your organizations’ appeal to future generations of members. We’re using the power of electronic social networks to bring people together. And one of our goals in 2013 is to expand the number of social networks – and the number of individual participants utilizing them – within the Alliance’s member community. You’ve seen the Alliance Member Community on the home page, just below the President’s Blog. We invite you to click on “GO” and explore the many opportunities for networking outside of our Mid-Year and Annual Meetings.

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    There’s a network for everyone…

    There are already 23 “shared interest group” networks hosted on the Alliance Member Community site. These include Communications, Compliance Plus, Engaging Youth and Fraternal Accounting and Compliance. These aren’t Facebook type networks where individuals are posting pictures from their latest family vacation; these are business networks where the work of the fraternal industry gets done. Communicators are discussing photo editing. Fraternal group members are seeking ideas for motivational speakers. And Compliance Plus group members are discussing all sorts of legal issues with Melanie Hinds.

    And there’s always room for more…

    Don’t see a group that matches your shared interest or expertise? Then start a new one! Some possibilities may include: underwriters, investment officers, field managers, local chapter leaders. The Alliance staff can help you build a new shared interest group. Just contact Andrea Litewski. Who knows? Maybe a group you would like to engage, like fraternal foundation managers, might already exist. (It does!)

    This Internet thing could catch on…

    On-line networks will never substitute for real life relationships, but they sure can help fill in the gaps between those times when you simply can’t meet face-to-face. More importantly, they can provide you almost instant access to folks from other fraternals that are facing the same challenges as you, and may have the answers to help you and your society perform better.

    The only way you’ll find out if this works for you is by diving in head first. Don’t worry; the water is deep and there is plenty of room for everyone in the pool.
    Here is what you need to get started:

    • Go to FraternalAllianceCommunity.org.
    • Click “Sign Up” from the box on the upper right hand side.
    • Create a profile with a few quick steps and start connecting.

    If you have any questions about getting started, contact Andrea Litewski.

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