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Now, therefore, be it resolved…

I try my best not to make promises I can’t keep.  That’s why New Year’s “resolutions” are at the top of my “greatest waste of time” list.  Besides, those of you that knew me more than 20 years ago (or heard others recount some of the legendary stories from that period) are fully aware that my life over the past two decades could be considered a resolution.   And for the blessings given to me during that time I am truly grateful.

My spouse, of course, is a big fan of resolutions.  (They say opposites attract and we are the perfect example of that axiom.)  Maddeningly, she not only makes them every year, but KEEPS THEM, TOO!  And, being a supportive partner, I frequently get dragged along for the ride… er, I mean I try to help her accomplish her goals.

First, it was successfully completing a triathlon.  Yep, Mr. “Can’t Swim Unless His Life Depended On It” managed to thrash and splash his way to the finish line.  And, yep, she beat me.  This year it’s “hot yoga” (at least they don’t keep score), so when you see me at the Section meetings this spring I’ll be able to do a downward dog with the best of them.

New name no joking matter…

But all kidding aside, there is one resolution I plan to make good on in 2011:  I’m going to do everything I can to maximize the value of our new American Fraternal Alliance name and make sure our most important audiences of state and federal public policymakers, opinion leaders in the media, and the millions of people that aren’t aware of who we are and what we do (but should be) hear our message.  That’s a tall order and it will certainly require more than a one-year commitment.  More importantly, I’ll need your help to accomplish it.

This week, every member society will be receiving a host of materials to help you spread the news about the American Fraternal Alliance name change to your employees, your members, your local media, and public policymakers with whom you have a relationship.  I hope you’ll utilize those tools and add a link to our new Web site (www.FraternalAlliance.org) from your home page that proudly displays your association’s new name and logo.

American Fraternal Alliance staff will be working hard over the next few months to make sure we get the word out about the new name – and the real social and economic value that fraternals deliver to America and Americans – to those folks who need to hear it.  The first phase of our efforts will culminate with a reception for members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.  This event will be held in conjunction with the Presidents Section meeting, and I hope every member society CEO will mark his or her calendar so you can be a part of this historic occasion.

Value-added membership benefits…

The entire staff of the American Fraternal Alliance also pledges to make membership in the association more valuable than ever this year – by defending our tax-exempt status in the states or in Washington; delivering the highest quality educational program and networking opportunities; providing you information that helps you benchmark your organization’s performance;  offering you access to group purchasing programs for professional liability insurance, office supplies, and other products and services; and constantly seeking out new opportunities to provide you more and better value-added services.

Here’s to a great 2011 for each of you and for the American Fraternal Alliance.

What in the world is “data-driven advocacy?”

I know there are times when members may get a little annoyed by all the information their association asks them to provide.  We ask you to provide feedback on potential products and services, to evaluate meetings, to give your opinion on public policy positions under consideration by the Board, and to rate our performance and the value of association membership.  Most importantly, we ask for detailed information on your fraternal activities – everything from member benefits, to social events, to community service projects on which your society and its lodges are engaged.

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Selling the fraternal difference – I’ve got questions; you’ve got answers…

We talk a lot about the “fraternal difference” – the unique factors that distinguish us from any other entity, be it a commercial life insurer or a charitable organization.  Fraternals are a breed apart – from our common bonds, to our governance structure, to our incredible ability to enhance the quality of life for our members, our communities, and our nation’s social fabric and economic health. 

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With Dignity and Respect for All…

I had the opportunity to spend a little time at three member society conventions over the past week: KSKJ Life in Pueblo, CO; Luso-American Life in Burlingame, CA; and CSA Fraternal Life in Lisle, IL.  As always, it was wonderful to renew acquaintances with society executives and to witness the debates among delegates about ways to improve their organizations’ financial and fraternal activities. 

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Lessons from Lions…

We've all heard of the Lions Club.  Many of us know them as the group that collects used eyeglasses for those who can't afford them.  I'll bet more than a few of you are active members of the club in your home town. 

The Lions are a service club, not a fraternal benefit society.  But like almost every membership organization in the U.S., they are struggling to adjust to societal changes that have resulted in a declining membership and a struggle to remain relevant to the next generation of members. There are many parallels between fraternals and the Lions, and there is much we can learn from them.

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Joe’s Special

Here is a grab bag of items I’ve been meaning to share with you – some monumental, others less so.  Hope you find them interesting…

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10 Things I Learned at the Fraternal/Communications Sections Meeting…

The just-concluded Fraternal and Communications Sections Mid-Year Meeting was an eye-opener.  Most, if not all, of the speakers focused heavily on communicating with and selling products to the next generation of fraternal members – Gen X-ers (born between 1965-1979) and Millennials (born between 1980-2000).  If your society is planning on sticking around and staying relevant, the information presented during the Section meeting was absolutely invaluable.  Here’s a quick review of what I learned when it comes to the getting those 20- and 30-somethings involved in your organization:

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You like us! You really, really like us!

The results of the NFCA member-satisfaction survey are in and, while there is always room for improvement, members of all sizes are satisfied with the association’s performance over the past year.  Here’s a LINK to the full survey results and a few highlights from this year’s survey:

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Want new members? Leave the lodge and look online…

In case you missed it, here’s a link to an article in last Sunday’s Parade magazine about a recent survey on the boom in volunteerism in the U.S.  My question to you, dear readers, is:  How is your society capitalizing on all this "latent fraternalism"?

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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?

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