Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Lodge strategic planning

HOW-TO: Write a lodge strategic plan

Find it on

Your May checklist

Trestleboard and more

Question of the month


Printable Version


BEST PRACTICE: Lodge strategic planning

To be successful, an organization must not only set smart goals, but have systems in place for achieving them. In Manhattan Beach, Beach Cities Lodge No. 753 is focused on strategy. This year, it began long-term efforts to improve its infrastructure and processes, a ground-up approach that will keep the lodge vital down the road.

Master Michael Herron explains:


Our officers are all new to the line this year. Together, we’ve decided to strengthen the very foundations of how our lodge functions. We’re looking at our collective terms like a five-year plan. And, we want to improve the system for future leaders. Here are a few of the long-term changes that we’re putting into place.

Member engagement
Goal: Grow the number of brothers who actively contribute to the lodge.

  • Prospects: We pulled the contact information for anyone who’s recently requested information about Masonry or visited the lodge, and put it into a database. Then we went down the list and reached out to everyone. That effort resulted in a handful of applications, five new Entered Apprentices, and three new affiliations.
  • New members: We need to do a better job gaining traction with candidates, so that Masonry becomes a regular part of their lives and they are motivated to contribute to the lodge. So we developed a new system, which requires candidates to participate in an increasing number of lodge events at each step of the degree process.
  • Past masters: We’re testing the idea of a Past Master Committee. The objective is to re-engage those past masters in the lodge, and tap them as leadership resources for new masters and officers.

Goal: Rebuild our administrative infrastructure and improve processes of the lodge’s 20-plus committees.

  • Scheduling: Some committees were no longer on a set meeting schedule. The first thing we did was recommit to regular meetings.
  • Direction: As master, I have a general agenda for each committee that focuses partly on my term, and partly on the future years out. I give each committee general guidelines for what I’m looking to achieve, then I turn it loose to them.
  • Planning: We now use a standardized "committee progress report” sheet for setting and tracking goals. Committee members use these sheets to list all their ideas, come up with specific goals, and determine timeframes. The committee chairmen use them to review and report progress.

Reporting and communicating
Goal: Establish a system of reporting to leaders and the general membership.

  • Candidate progress: Candidate coaches now submit monthly candidate progress reports to the senior warden.
  • Committee progress: Every committee chairman submits his latest committee progress report sheet to me at the end of the month. I can spend a couple minutes reviewing all of these sheets, and can quickly assess how we’re progressing.
  • In the Trestleboard: I use the Trestleboard to update the lodge on our overall goal progress, and to ask for input from members.
  • At stated meeting: We now use the stated meeting to regularly share committee updates. Each committee’s progress report sheet is just one side of a piece of paper, so it can be read in under a minute. Six committees read a basic update at a recent stated meeting, and it took five minutes total.

Closing thoughts

We’re harnessing the energy and momentum of this year to make a number of immediate program improvements, from our public schools support to our Masonic education speaker series. But the most important work that we’re doing is focused on several years down the road. The systems that we are putting in place today will pay off then.

In then end, our main goal as leaders is this: To leave our lodge even better than we found it.

For more information, contact Mike Herron.

[Back to Top]



HOW-TO: Write a lodge strategic plan

Ready to create a structure for your lodge’s future? Here are 14 steps to take your lodge officers from brainstorming to implementation.

Assemble your team

  • Create a special committee, tapping members with knowledge of different areas of the lodge
  • Solicit help from members who have strategic planning experience in a business setting

Involve the whole lodge

  • Via Trestleboard, mail, or email, notify members about the strategic planning process and what you hope the lodge will gain from it
  • Distribute a survey asking for members’ priorities for the lodge

Schedule a series of committee meetings

  • Meet first to create and distribute the member survey
  • Once surveys have been completed, meet to analyze results and discuss the membership’s priorities
  • Based on general priorities, set specific goals for the lodge
  • Assign actions and timeframes to each goal

Draft the plan

  • Use the fraternity’s current strategic plan as a template, and create your own using the priorities and goals your committee has identified
  • Make sure your plan clearly articulates objectives, action steps, responsibilities, and deadlines
  • Meet several times to discuss and revise the draft

Share the finished product

  • Present the completed plan and immediate next steps at stated meeting
  • Post the plan on your lodge’s public website and in the Trestleboard
  • Via email or mail, send the plan to every member. Include a cover letter explaining the committee’s process

Already have a lodge plan but need help with implementation? Read these tips to help you get started.

[Back to Top]



Find it on

Strategic planning is an important part of how California Masonry adapts to change and makes our values come to life.

Are you in the strategic planning process for your lodge? Use the fraternity’s current 2010-2015 strategic plan as a template for your lodge’s plan, or to assess your lodge’s progress toward its five priority areas.

Are you interested in contributing to the fraternity’s strategic plan for 2016-2020? Attend one of the six strategic planning workshops and contribute to the discussion. Encourage your lodge members to attend, too. This is a chance to reflect together on where we were, where we are, and where we need to go in the next five years.

Strategic Planning Workshops

Friday, June 5, Ontario
6-8 p.m.: Ontario Lodge No. 301, 1025 N. Vine Ave.

Saturday, June 6, Santa Rosa
10 a.m.-12 p.m.: Santa Rosa Scottish Rite, 625 Acacia Lane

Tuesday, June 9, Elk Grove
6-8 p.m.: Elk Grove Lodge No. 173, 9829 Waterman Rd.

Saturday, June 13, Bellflower
9-11 a.m.: Bellflower Masonic Center, 9813 Beach St.

Wednesday, June 17, San Jose
6-8 p.m.: San Jose Scottish Rite, 2455 Masonic Dr.

Friday, June 19: Escondido
6-8 p.m.: Consuelo Lodge No. 325, 1331 S Escondido Blvd.

Note: Can't make it to the workshop near you? Contribute your perspective by completing the statewide strategic plan member survey. More details will be announced in the coming months.

[Back to Top]



Your May checklist

Stay on track with lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your May checklist:

Executive Committee

  • Remind members to celebrate Champion Civility Month
  • If you haven’t already, attend a 2015 Master & Wardens Retreat.The final 2015 retreat will take place in Ontario, May 15-17.
  • Along with the senior warden, identify and approach members for 2016 open elected and appointed officer positions
  • Identify and approach members for the 2016 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees
  • Set calendar for 2016 and identify event leaders

Senior Warden

  • Along with the Executive Committee, identify and approach members for 2016 open elected and appointed officer positions
  • Identify and approach members for the 2016 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees
  • Set calendar for 2016 and identify event leaders
  • Continue preparing 2016 budget
  • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement


  • Send list of members with late dues to the master for the Retention Committee
  • Send any suspension notices
  • Charity Committee considers remissions


  • By May 15, submit IRS form 990 and FTB form 199 (unless your lodge has previously agreed to have Grand Lodge prepare these forms)

Hall Association

  • By May 15, submit IRS form 990 and FTB form 199
  • Submit form 200 to Grand Lodge
  • Pay insurance premium

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

[Back to Top]



Trestleboard and more

By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support.

Caring for widows is a lodge’s solemn vow, whether through outreach or simple gestures of appreciation. This month, download a step-by-step guide to a successful Widow’s Committee, plus quick and clever ways to engage widows in the lodge.

This Month: Guide to a Successful Widows Committee
Distribute and discuss among lodge leadership and Widows Committee.

[Back to Top]



Question of the month

Last month we asked you to rank the importance of ritual to your lodge on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being extremely important.

The average response was 8.79. Fifty-six percent of you say your lodge holds ritual practice at least every other week.

Here's your next question.





View past issues

Please email questions to

Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000