The Demise of the Lodge

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Not for Profits
What will happen when all the service organizationns are gone? Can a website help?

I see this a lot.

You and your colleagues head up a service organization, which owns a lodge building, with a club room. Your membership is declining enough to make you worry. The dues and bar revenues from the club room are barely covering the lodge’s operating expenses.

You sip your drink in the mostly empty club room and stare off into space, thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. A ball game drones on one of the big screen TVs.

Then you start to rationalize.

Well, younger people just aren’t interested in these types of places any more.”

Then some young guy walks in and introduces himself. He says he’s a web marketer.

I’ve got a great idea,” he says. “Why doesn’t your organization set up a website? You can post news, announcements, achievements of your group on it. You can tell the world about all the noble work you do, supporting charitable causes in the area.

“You can set up an email newsletter and send it our regularly to your membership, tell them what’s going on. You can also use social media, a Facebook page let’s say, maybe a LinkedIn organization page, to promote what you do.

“I’ll make sure the the website is mobile friendly, so that people visiting it on a phone can read it easily. That’s really important these days. We can also optimize the website for search engines, so all your key pages rank highly for searches looking for the charitable causes your organization supports. You’ll get a lot of traffic from search engines that way.

“These days, it’s never been cheaper to have a website, and updating the website is as easy as writing and sending an email, so you won’t have to rely on a webmaster to constantly update.

“I bet in six months time, you’ll be growing your membership by something like five percent a month.

“What do you all think?”

Here’s where it gets interesting. The Wall of Resistance rises out of nowhere.

  • “Well, we’re a bunch of old guys here. We don’t know anything about that.”
  • “Websites are expensive.”
  • “That won’t work.”
  • “We’re not tekkie guys here.”
  • “Who’s going to look at our website?”

I’ve personally heard one form or another of all of these statements when presenting to small organizations, be they nonprofits or for-profits. Even when they are presented with an idea that can provide hope of turning their organization’s fortunes around, they seem not to believe it, not even willing to explore the possibility further. There is almost a will to not let that information in.

Many of the individuals saying these types of things are in their 60s or 70s. Perhaps they just have stopped taking in new information because of the stage of life they are in.

I have personal experience of such a shut down in welcoming new information. My father, who passed away several years ago, was an educator. Yet he would have nothing to do with computers. He didn’t even know how to turn one on. His brother-in-law, my uncle, who is still going strong at 93, is an avid emailer, searcher, and browser of the internet. He embraced computers wholeheartedly. So it can differ from person to person, maybe even regardless of age.

Something as arbitrary as the personality traits of those in charge may dictate which declining lodges, like the hypothetical one described above, survive and which ones close for good.

Let there be no doubt: The service organizations nationwide, like the Elks, Rotary, and Knights of Columbus, are in decline. But if they go, the communities they serve lose something vital.

For decades, in hundreds of communities throughout the country and the world, groups of local men and women, bound together by a sense of fraternity and willingness to help, have solved problems within their communities through volunteer work and charitable donations. Their absence will leave a large hole, that other organizations or agencies will be hard pressed to fill.

“How did you go bankrupt?" 
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

The willful resistance described above is not limited to service organizations. By some reports, 45 percent of small businesses still don’t have a website. Small businesses bemoan the hardships of say, retail in modern times, yet do nothing to examine new ways of marketing their businesses online.

While some may ponder solutions and delay decisions, remember that a failure can happen suddenly, and without warning. As noted in a dialog between two characters  from Ernest Hemingway’s novel, “The Sun Also Rises:”

“How did you go bankrupt?" 
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”


Looking for a way to find out how to get up to speed on websites and web marketing? Check out my book, How to Become an Educated Consumer of Website Design and Development Services (available in both Kindle and Hardcover versions; Five star rating on Amazon). It’s a compact and practical brief on how to speak knowledgeably with web professionals, to get the best and most effective deal on your website.

Have a question you’d like to ask me? Contact me by email, I am always happy to answer questions!

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