Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Partnering with other lodges

HOW-TO: Plan a district activity

Secretary special: Tips for lodge governance

Healthier finances, happier members, and more


Question of the month


BEST PRACTICE: Partnering with other lodges

As the adage goes, there’s strength in numbers. From child literacy to care for cancer patients, you’ve seen what the fraternity can accomplish when lodges align statewide.

The same holds true on a local level. And one of the fraternity’s major strategic priorities is for members to go beyond the lodge, which means reaching across town borders and partnering with neighboring lodges.

For Six Rivers Lodge No. 106 in Arcata, that’s business as usual.

Secretary Alan Smyth explains:

Six Rivers Lodge is situated on the far North Coast of California, just a few hours south of the Oregon border. We’re isolated from the rest of the state, but we’re not alone: Humboldt Lodge No. 79, Eel River Empire Lodge No. 147, and Ferndale Lodge No. 193 are all within a 20 mile radius. We’ve created a tight-knit community across two Masonic districts.

Community activities

  • Live from the Redwood Empire: Every year, the lodges volunteer together for our local public television station’s fundraiser. We wear our Masonic shirts and hats, and it’s announced on television that the phones are being answered by Masonic lodges.
  • Walkathon: The lodges walk together in the county’s annual Relay for Life event.
  • America’s pastime: Our town has a collegiate summer baseball team. We attend games with the other lodges as a special event for the kids. To raise community awareness, we sponsor a sign on the field and arrange an announcement that the Masons support the team.

Fraternal activities

  • Friendly competition: Every year, we hold a trapshooting competition in memory of a brother who loved the sport. The event began as a contest between Six Rivers Lodge and Humboldt Lodge, but we’ve since opened it up to the other lodges.
  • Ritual relationship: We often participate in the degree work for Humboldt Lodge, and vice versa.

Communal Trestleboard

  • Extended family: For more than 10 years, Six Rivers Lodge has organized a shared Trestleboard for the four area lodges and other nearby Masonic organizations, including three youth orders, Amaranth, Eastern Star, and Shriners.
  • One good turn...: The idea came from Reading Lodge, which started a district-wide Trestleboard in the Northern Valley many years ago.
  • Cross-district distribution: The Trestleboard is mailed to approximately 850 individuals.
  • Creating content: Each group, including the three youth orders, sends news or contributes an article every month.
  • Comprehensive calendar: We publicize upcoming events for every lodge or organization, which increases participation and support across the board.
  • Money-saver: The Trestleboard is largely funded by the lodges, which saves money for our allied organizations like Eastern Star and Amaranth.
  • Donations accepted: To help subsidize printing and distribution, we started a donor recognition section. For a small contribution, we print the names of donors (or the name of their choice; for example, “in memory of”).


  • We get to know the brothers, families, and kids from our neighboring lodges, which promotes fellowship.
  • By encouraging participation in each other’s events, we increase our opportunities to engage members and families.
  • Every time our lodges appear together in public, we show that Masons are relevant and active in our community.
  • Many of our activities directly benefit the county. By working together, we make more of an impact, whether in fundraising dollars or manpower.

For more information, contact Secretary Alan Smyth,

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HOW-TO: Plan a district activity

Expand your impact in the community. Deepen your connection to the greater fraternity. Meet some inspiring people.

These are just a few direct results of partnering with neighboring lodges.

Here are 13 ideas to get your lodge started.

Present a united front

  • Instead of participating as individual lodges, sign up together for community fundraisers such as walks or telethons. To build team spirit, make t-shirts with your team name or district.
  • Invite other lodges to lend a hand at your volunteer projects. At their next service event, return the favor.
  • Host a Masonic Information night for the whole district.
    • Example: Three lodges from District 117 hosted a joint Masonic Information night in their Los Angeles community. Lodges divided up responsibilities such as preparing food, organizing parking, designing and printing programs, and leading the event discussion. On the night of the event, members from all three lodges greeted guests at the door.

Expand your impact

  • From a Masonic education presentation to a family barbecue, double your invitation list - and cut your work in half - by cohosting with another lodge.
  • Rally area lodges to raise money (and earn bragging rights) for Masons4Mitts.
  • Fundraise as a district for community charities or the fraternity’s philanthropic programs.
    • Example: In support of By Your Side last year, 16 lodges from Division VIII came together for a candlelight service honoring cancer survivors and those lost to the disease. They raised $7,000 for the project.

Stay in touch

  • Arrange carpools to attend other lodge’s degrees, installations, and events.
  • Include district lodges on your event mailing list.
  • List all major district events on your lodge calendar, and ask other lodges to do the same.
  • Consider if a combined Trestleboard is right for your district.
    • Example: Tucked away in a remote area of Northern California, Six Rivers Lodge No. 106 handles a communal Trestleboard for four lodges and a number of allied Masonic organizations.

Extracurricular activities

  • Schedule a rotating event, whether it’s a social event or Masonic education discussion. Have a different lodge host each time.
  • Engage lodges with some friendly competition. Challenge other lodges to a golf tournament, talent show, or cook-off.
  • Organize an education group made up of members from area lodges. Use a Skills And Interest survey to get ideas.

Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to with How-To: Plan a district activity in the subject line.

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Secretary special: Tips for lodge governance

In 1982, a book called “The One Minute Manager” started a worldwide management revolution. One of its best-known quotes is this: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

As secretary, you’re the glue of the leadership team; the lodge compliance officer; and the main information broker. That’s a lot of influence.

Here’s how to apply it successfully.

Coordinate the lodge executive committee with the master
The executive committee consists of the master, secretary, treasurer, and wardens

  • Meet one or two weeks before stated meetings
  • Choose a comfortable meeting place
  • Prepare a standing agenda, including:
    • Finances
    • Committee and hall association reports
    • Membership updates
    • Budget and calendar review
    • “Hot topics”
    • Action items and follow-up

Prepare effective meetings

  • Publicize meetings well in advance using an online calendar and email reminders
  • Gather sources and have them handy at the meeting
  • Publish the meeting agenda for everyone’s reference, including
    • Clear start and end time
    • Timed discussion
    • Topic designation
    • Designated lead
    • Stated outcome

Take minutes

  • Be succinct
  • Focus on actions and decisions
  • Finish the minutes within 48 hours of the meeting
  • Circulate for review among those present
  • Sign at the next stated meeting
  • File immediately and make accessible online

Share financial information with regular reports, including

  • Budget versus actual
  • Investments
  • Required filings
  • Concerns
  • Proposed solutions
  • A look ahead

Track membership trends, including

  • Prospect follow-up
  • Degree activity
  • Dues status
  • Attendance at retreats, LMCP, and Masonic Formation
  • Milestones and celebrations
  • Requests for support

Create a workflow calendar, including

  • Jan. stated meeting: Budget to lodge
  • Feb. stated meeting: Hall association and lodge financials to lodge
  • Mar. 15: Financials to Grand Lodge
  • Mar: Annual inspector review
  • May 15: 990 and 199 (HA Form 200)
  • June 30: Membership year end in iMember
  • Aug: Per capita payment
  • Sep: Annual Communication
  • Oct/Nov: Dues invoices
  • Nov stated meeting: Elections updates in iMember
  • Dec/Jan: Installation updates in iMember
  • Ongoing reporting
This resource is adapted from “Best Practices in Lodge Governance,” presented at the 2012 Secretaries and Treasurers Retreats.

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Healthier finances, happier members, and more

Want to fill the seats at your next event? Have questions on lodge finances? Looking for techniques to save time on administrative work?

Get answers this summer.

Recently redesigned as live webinars, the Lodge Management Certification Program (LMCP) courses are more informative and convenient than ever.

Attend online from home - or anywhere with an Internet connection. Each interactive, real-time course is presented virtually by a team of subject matter experts. To maximize learning and interaction, class size is limited to 25 participants.

LMCP webinars

  • Hall Association Management
  • Lodge Administration
  • Lodge Finance
  • NEW: Member Experience: Engage current members and attract prospective ones, develop original Masonic education programming, and rally your lodge around philanthropic initiatives like Raising A Reader.

Register now! Only two months left.

Courses are held during two 90-minute sessions; each session is $15. Questions? Contact Kim Hegg, program services manager, at 415/292-9111.

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By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure that your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

As modern Masons face increasingly hectic lifestyles, it’s all too easy to withdraw from the fraternity. But if you take the time to ask why engagement has lapsed, you might just learn how to bring your lodge’s inactive members back. At the least, you’ll remind them that they’re valued members of the lodge family.

Start with this survey.

This month: Template member survey
Once a year, customize and send this survey to inactive members. You’ll also be sending an important reminder about Masonic Assistance support services.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge adopted new technology in the past year. Of the 134 who responded:

66% - Yes
31% - No
3% - Don't know

Among those who said yes, iMember and electronic Trestleboards were the most popular types of technology, followed by the Member Center, email blasts, and social media. The least popular technologies included conference calls, lodge blogs, and online document management.

Here’s your next question.





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San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000