A Leadership Guide to Groupable:connect
Our Lodge Page Community
"I would feel completely isolated if I was not informed what was happening through your emails. Thank you.”
- Jim Royal, Maine
Our Lodge Page, an online community for Freemasonry, is a groupable:connect community built for groupable:m2 (member management) clients and other organizations.
OLP provides lodges with standards-compliant, consistent, SEO-friendly websites that provide essential information to people both inside and outside the fraternity including: a calendar, current officers, information on joining, information about the organization (masonry), information about the organization's charities, photo albums, links, file storage, and lodge history.
OLP provides important membership tools, such as a status checker, event announcements and RSVP’s, news posts, the ability to contact other members of their lodge and for officers to reach the members under them, online dues notices and online payment. Online messaging and a communications workflow to streamline distributes essential communications in a cost-effective manner.
OLP was built to meet manifold needs: to replace outdated, abandoned, stand-alone lodge websites with consistent, current data and messaging; to provide improved means of communication between members and their lodges; to help the fraternity to grow; to aid the fraternity in retaining its members; and, to help protect lodge data by providing an online place to store it.
What is OLP
OLP provides a streamlined platform to present a public face for the lodges. At its most basic, a lodge website contains a brief description of the lodge, its location, its meeting time, a map locating the lodge, a link to Grand Lodge’s website, and a contact form whose messages go to the lodge secretary.
A Lodge’s webmasters (the Master, Wardens, Secretary, Treasurer and anyone appointed as such through m2), have the ability to enable a number of content options as follows (in order of most utilized to date):
- Calendar – a calendar listing events at the lodge. Each event is visible to the public, all masons, or just members of that lodge (Default: public.) This content may appear in a block on the lodge’s front page.
- Officers – a page listing the current officers of the lodge. By default, this is limited to title and name. Webmasters control which titles to display and whether or not to include additional contact information. This content may appear in a block on the lodge’s front page.
- Join – a page of information about joining the fraternity cribbed from the content on Grand Lodge’s website.
- About – a page of information about the fraternity cribbed from the content on Grand Lodge’s website.
- Charities – a page of information about the fraternity’s charitable efforts cribbed from the content on Grand Lodge’s website.
- News – a page containing articles posted by the lodge (e.g., Masters Message.) Each article is visible to the public, all masons, or just members of that lodge (Default: public.) This content may appear in a block on the lodge’s front page.
- Photos – arranged in albums, a lodge may upload an unlimited number of photos. Each album is visible to the public, all masons, or just members of that lodge (Default: public.) This content may appear in a block on the lodge’s front page.
- Past Officers – a page listing the past officers of the lodge. Webmasters control which titles to display. No contact information is displayed.
- Links – a page where the lodge may create a list of links organized in headings.
- Files – arranged in folders, a lodge may upload an unlimited number of files. Each folder and file is visible to the public, all masons, or just members of that lodge (Default: members of the lodge.)
- History – a page for the lodge create content that dives into the history of the lodge, its building, etc.
- Directions – a page where the lodge may spell out old-fashioned written directions to get to the lodge.
In addition to presenting a public face for the lodges in terms of websites, OLP provides both web and mobile applications to facilitate membership activities. Some of these tools are in place, while others are on the road map:
- Status Checker – verify the current status of a given member by their grand lodge number.
- Event RSVP’s – members communicate their intention to attend an event and possibly bring guests.
- Member Directory – members search for other members of their lodge and contact them via email or phone. Officers can perform broader searches with District officers seeing their entire District and Grand Lodge officers capable of seeing the whole fraternity.
- Comments – News posts and Calendar events can have threaded conversations with the same visibility as the post or event. These are on by default for lodges and off by default for District and Grand Lodge.
- Dues Notification and Collection – Webmasters who also have dues permission in MORI can configure dues notices and send them out through OLP and receive online payments back.
- Dues Reminders – In order to support the dues collection efforts of the secretary, on the fourth Saturday after dues notices have been generated, dues reminders will begin to go out in the Weekly Masonic Update emails.
- Weekly Masonic Update - This weekly Saturday email is distributed to inform your members and others in the district of any calendar events coming in the next month. RSVP is available by clicking a link. At the bottom of every email is a link to manage email preferences so that you can inactivate emails entirely or in part (for example by opting in for only your lodge instead of the entire district).
- Peer-to-peer and Group Messaging – members can message each other in the applications.
- Broadcast Communication Funnel – officers will be able to select a group of members to contact, compose their message and attachments, and deliver the message through a cost-conscious communications funnel: in app > email > sms > snail mail. Members will maintain an “inbox” in the application where they will be able to access the communications now and later – even if they didn’t have an account when it was sent.
How OLP Works
Our Lodge Page is tied to your backend membership database (Groupable:m2, the successor for MORI Classic) This connection drives the data displayed by OLP as well as who can access OLP.
On each lodge’s main OLP page, we display information about the lodge including its name, date chartered, location, and meeting times. All this information comes directly from m2. When m2 is updated, OLP is updated.
In addition to the main page, as other pages are enabled, (e.g., current officers), the data all comes straight from the authoritative source, groupable:m2.
When a member wishes to create an account to access OLP, we ask them for their member number and their date of birth. With this information, we retrieve their cell phone number and/or email address from m2 and we send them a verification code to one or both of these secondary devices. Once they retrieve the code from their phone or their email, only then can they create an account. The industry refers to this best practice as Two-Factor Authentication. We use the same procedure whenever a member has forgotten their password as well.
Elected officers of a lodge have “webmaster” access to their lodge, meaning they can enable or disable content pages, add or remove content, etc. The lodge secretary may designate additional webmasters through the Subordinate Roles screen in m2.
At the District/Region/Area levels, webmaster access belongs to the Deputy Grand Master at that level. Other webmasters may be designated in m2 by the Grand Secretary’s office.
At the Grand Lodge level, the Grand Secretary and Grand Master have webmaster access. Other webmasters may be designated in m2 by the Grand Secretary’s office.
Other members have more limited access allowing them mostly to use the communication tools as outlined earlier and as controlled by the visibility of items specified by the webmaster. (e.g., a news post visible to members of Lodge A, can be seen and commented on only by members of Lodge A.)
Weekly emails sent to each member bring together the upcoming events for the next month and news from the past week. For lodges that have the calendar feature enabled, we auto-populate their event calendar if there are no future events listed.
What it all means
OLP’s purpose is manifold: external communication, internal communication, growth, retention, and data safety.
Through a standards compliant, consistent, SEO-friendly web presence for each lodge, we present up-to-date information about the lodge to interested members of the community at large. A contact form delivers inquiries from the community straight to the Secretary’s Inbox. News and Event posts can serve to inform the community about the goings on and charitable activities of the lodge.
OLP provides a wide and growing array of internal communication options designed not only to keep members informed but also to save the lodge money. Our planned communication funnel is designed to complete delivery of necessary communications by stepping through communication options in order of cost, hopefully keeping physical mail to an absolute minimum.
The “millennial generation” is populated with joiners. However, they’ve grown up expecting an unprecedented level of connectedness. Having their personal view of the fraternity in their pocket: “when are the meetings?”, “how do I reach ___________?”, etc, are all essential questions that OLP answers.
Based on responses we have seen to the weekly emails, being informed of the goings-on in their lodges and around the district, we have found, has served to energize members. Even members who’ve retired and moved away have been excited to see the emails and hopeful to come visit. Online dues payments have also been an essential tool. We’ve seen many arrears payments made, not just the current year. While it’s too early to make a definitive statement on membership retention, the information that we have from the last three to four years indicates that the adoption of many aspects of OLP - updating calendars, adding online payments, and utilizing communication tools - has lowered NPD rates for a number of lodges.
The ability to upload lodge files and have them stored is critical. We hear over and over about Secretaries having their hard-drives crash and years of minutes and other files are lost. In OLP, this archival information can be uploaded and safely stored, visible only to the members of the lodge.
What people are saying
Here are some of the responses we’ve seen to OLP in just the past few weeks:
"I would feel completely isolated if I was not informed what was happening through your emails. Thank you.” – Jim Royal, Maine
“I am living in Fort Worth Texas so I cannot attend but I am glad to receive the notices, so I can continue to follow what the lodge is doing. Thank you for the updates.” – James Cooper, Ohio
“Great Idea! Thanks. It gives me a chance to attend when I am up there.” – John “Jud” Powell, Maine
“Excellent resource! Thank you and please keep it up.” – Scott Spencer, North Carolina
“Great information. Thank you for putting this together.” – Chad Caughran, Michigan
“I am living in California now, so I think this site is a wonderful idea.” – Bob Silver, New York
“You’re doing a great job.” – Dan Raynor, New York
“I think this is awesome.” – Raymond Cooper, New York
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