Dec 072016
 

By Kay Khalvati
MSG Membership Director

HAPPY HOLIDAY GREETINGS TO ALL!   I love this time of year!  November and December are my some of my personal favorites.  Everything has a festive air about it, and it is such an inclusive time of year.  As the carol says, everyone is full of good cheer!  Gifts large and small are given and greatly appreciated.

As we join in this festive season, I ask you all to give a gift to your Grange.  Large or small is greatly appreciated.  In fact, the most valuable gift of all may not cost anything.  Please commit to your Grange’s membership goals, by inviting your friends and neighbors to become Grangers.

This may seem paradoxical when many Granges adopt winter schedules now.  However, if you have a supply of membership applications and/or your Grange’s Program Schedule handy before the winter break starts, January and February can be great times to invite new members to join.

This is the best time of year to invite potential members to join (again).  If you are taking a winter break, they will have an opportunity to plan ahead for their new Grange schedule.  If you do not close for a winter break, the schedule is generally more flexible, given weather and other considerations.

By focusing on inviting and accepting applications during the lead up to Spring months, your Grange will have a head start.  What a nice feature for Grange Month in April…..to have new members introduced and/or taking their degrees!

So I encourage you to make a commitment to give an invitation to join the Grange to anyone you greet this holiday season.  It may be the best gift you can give your Grange.

Nov 142016
 

By Kay Khalvati
MSG Membership Director

Happy Thanksgiving!!  This is the season when we traditionally take a few moments to acknowledge the things in our lives for which we are most thankful.  As we acknowledge these, it is not unusual for our family to be noted.  We all agree that mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, and even in-laws help us become who we are.  And we would not be the same if they were missing from our lives.

So, as we savor the roast turkey and pumpkin pie of this season, I invite you to consider this possibility.  How much do you value your Grange family?  Would you be a different person without it?  Are you an active supporter of your Grange family?

Earlier this week, we attended a Pomona meeting that reminded me of these questions, and the inherent answers.  As we prepared to attend, we called a couple of folks and invited them to attend with us.  They accepted, and we enjoyed their company as we traveled to the meeting.  When we arrived at the sponsoring subordinate grange, the hall was aglow, and the parking lot had several cars already there.  Upon entering, we were greeted by several people, most of them eligible for Youth status.  As we were invited to sit for dinner, I invited some of the young members to join us.  Obviously, I was interested in more details.

As we enjoyed an exceptionally delicious meal, all of us were pleased to get to know these new members better. The two fellows next to me were very good company… smart, witty, great senses of humor, and a real enthusiasm for the Grange!  As new members of the subordinate Grange, they and their peers had not yet joined Pomona.  However, all were invited to come upstairs to participate in the evening’s program (before the meeting.)

They accepted and soon found themselves participating in a skit and a contest with three teams.  Their presence enhanced an already fun evening and set an energized pace for the program.  Simply stated, everyone had a wonderful time.

Later in the week, we enjoyed a repeat performance in yet another Grange.  This time the youthful enthusiasm came from honorees during the subordinate Grange’s Veterans’ Day program.  Again, we met new friends and everyone really enjoyed themselves.

To answer the questions asked above:

  • Grange families are important.
  • They help us become the best that we can be.
  • We would miss them if they were not part of our lives.
  • Please support your Grange membership by inviting others to join.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sep 222016
 

submitted by Glenys Ryder, Androscoggin Pomona #1

A very interesting and productive Degree Day was recently held at West Minot Grange by Androscoggin Pomona #1.  The first four degrees were conducted on eleven candidates.  Over forty Grange members from eleven different Granges were present.  A delicious roast pork dinner was served by the members of West Minot Grange between the second and third degrees.  Honored guest at the occasion was MSG Junior Director Christine Hebert.

Officers for the four degrees were as follows:  Master Wayne Sherman, Overseer Greg Johnson, Lecturer Glenys Ryder (first and second degrees) and Steven Haycock (third and fourth degrees), Steward Norma Meserve ( first and second degrees) and Roberta Meserve (third and fourth degrees), Assistance Steward Dana Coffin (first and second degrees) and Clay Collins (third and fourth degrees), Lady Assistant Steward Sue Verrill, Chaplain Maynard Chapman, Treasurer Wes Ryder, Secretary Linda Sherman, Gatekeeper Bill Hatch, Ceres Cynthia Maxwell, Pomona Kathy Lorrain, and Flora Gladys Chapman.  Taking part in the Harvest March were Shirley Hatch, Elmira Collins, Sharon Castonguay, and David Castonguay.

It was a wonderful afternoon and evening where Grangers were sharing good food and fellowship!

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Sep 172016
 

By Kay Khalvati
MSG Membership Director

Congratulations to the team that recently sponsored the Volunteer workshop at the Maine State Grange.  A very valuable networking experience occurred during the last presentation of the day.  Simply stated, this was a roundtable discussion led by three members of AARP to introduce “AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.” (More info is available at www.Facebook.com/aarpafme.)  As the discussion progressed, it became increasing obvious that this new program sponsored by AARP has many similarities to the basic precepts of Grange membership.  I added this observation to the conversation, and a sprightly discussion ensued, including most of the attendees.  The net conclusion being that the AARP folks learned much about the Grange, and Grangers learned about a new AARP program.

Always looking for membership promotional opportunities, I asked the AARP reps why they did not belong to Grange.  The consensus was that “they hadn’t been asked,” and “they didn’t know much about the Grange.”   Promptly, I issued an invitation to each of them, and our group gave them an informal overview of the benefits of Grange membership.  As the session was ending, I asked them if they would answer three quick questions about their reasons for not belonging to the Grange, intending to take about 5 minutes with each of them to hear their answers.  Happily, they now responded enthusiastically as one that they would be happy to put their comments in writing so that they could give us as much help as possible.

Interest in the Grange is everywhere.  We now have three unofficial ambassadors for our organization from the Mid-Coast, South Central, and Western regions of Maine.

Please take the time to toot our horn when opportunities present themselves.  We are a valuable organization whose current low membership totals do not represent the value of our organization.

Thank you for representing our Grange well.  I look forward to seeing you at State Session.

Aug 162016
 

By Kay Khalvati
MSG Membership Director

Summer in Maine! What  a delight! Every community and organization seem to compete for our time and attention… public suppers, community-based celebrations and field days. For Grangers, these are special opportunities  for promoting our  very special organization.

As I’ve said many times before, I am a firm believer that the best advertising for the Grange is our Grangers themselves.  So I encourage you as you continue your activities, whether they be fundraising activities, installations, or special purpose meetings, please let your neighbors know what you are doing.

They are interested.  Invite them to attend any event of interest. Remind them of special events sponsored by the Maine State Grange, such as the upcoming Volunteer Day at Grange Headquarters.  Invite, invite, invite.

When you attend other events think of creative ways to encourage interest in our Granges. Chelsea Grange #215 has recently decided that T-shirts are a comfortable way to advertise ourselves.  We agreed on dark blue shirts with gold lettering. When we contacted the local t-shirt makers, they were very supportive and arranged for us to have a choice of standard t-shirts or a polo style with a collar.  Each has the Grange logo with the words “Chelsea Grange #215” on the front.  The back of each shirt lists “Good Friends, Good Food, Good Fun.”

Interested members purchase these as their schedule allows. Members wore these at a recent community event where our Grange had a table. We also presented one to a 65-year member as a special recognition of years of support.  Whatever the reason, every time a member wears one of these shirts, they are proudly reminding their community that the Grange is very good

 

Jul 172016
 

BY JOE STEFENONI
National Grange Membership/Leadership Director | membershipatnationalgrangedotorg  (membershipatnationalgrangedotorg)  

Tradition and culture issues and concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

Recently, I visited my high school to enjoy their production of Fiddler on the Roof, the classic story of Tevye and his family. As I sat in my seat listening to the opening tones and lyrics of Tradition one line spoken by Tevye truly stuck with me. “Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything; how to sleep, how to eat, how to work, how to wear clothes… You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you, I don’t know, but it’s a tradition!”

As the story goes on, Tevye must come to terms with the changing world around him. To do this, he must learn how to balance the old traditions of his faith with the world he lives in, and by the end of the story, Tevye has learned how to celebrate traditions while at the same time adapting to the world around him. Immediately, my mind went straight to the Grange with our numerous rich traditions. Our traditions that have stood the test of time, but how do our traditions play a part in the recruitment and retention of new members? Is it possible that we can strike a balance between our traditions with the need to remain relevant to our members and our community? I say, “ABSOLUTELY”!

When we look at the identity of our organization, it’s necessary to remember that at the end of the day we are a fraternal organization and it is our ritual and fraternal bonds that are the foundation of what binds us together throughout the nation. At times, we shy away from our traditions either because we feel they don’t fit with society or we don’t understand why we do what we do. How often have we heard a member ask why something in the ritual is done the way it is and the answer they receive is “because we’ve always done it that way”.  This is almost the same as Tevye exclaiming “…it’s tradition!” Wouldn’t it better serve our members and ourselves to take the time to understand and explain the history and meaning behind our traditions?

Much of our ritual dates back almost 150 years to the founding of the Grange and as such may not be quickly understood by someone who is new to the Grange. Ritualism is something that was commonplace to those of my Grandparents generation who were involved in many different organizations from Masons to the Royal Neighbors who each had their own unique ritual. However, ritualism isn’t as common today as it was a century ago.  When we bring new members into our Grange, we must ensure that our rituals and traditions are fully explained to them. Place yourself in the shoes of a new member who is observing our ritual for the first time. It could be unusual to see certain aspects without an experienced member to answer questions that a new member may have.

Our traditions can also be a tool by which to both recruit and retain members. We should not be afraid to share our traditions should be shared with new members upon joining the Grange and we should also be sure to refresh the collective memory of our current members. Our traditions are rich and meaningful and there are many people who are looking for a return to the more traditional and basic values that our rituals and traditions espouse.

For those of us who have been Grange members for a number of years, our traditions seem to be natural and second nature to us and we may have become complacent with them. It is of the utmost importance to take pride in our traditions and fully understand what we do and why we do it. It is then that we will be able to share our traditions with and excite new members about the history, ritualism and traditions of the Grange. So let’s pull out the manuals, the stations, the regalia and unwritten work. Blow the dust off and practice the floor work once again. As we do this, let us take the time to understand the meaning behind these traditions and strengthen our fraternal bonds.

Reprinted from The Patrons Chain, the E-Newsletter of the National Grange.

Jul 152016
 

By Kay Khalvati
MSG Membership Director

Summer is here! How wonderful it is to have long, sunny days with hot temperatures and blue skies. For Grangers, the temptation can be to skip the regularly scheduled meetings, and go fishin’ or some other relaxing summertime pastime. And probably membership building activities are not our first thoughts.

But please remember that this can be a wonderful time of year to invite people to visit your Grange. We recently had a “Bring Your Friends and Neighbors to Grange” night, with 17 guests present. Not only did our Grangers have a good time, but a local artist agreed to hang several of her paintings in the dining room for all to enjoy. The summary of this event includes these varied thoughts:

  • everyone enjoyed the meal and camaraderie
  • the age range was from 2 months to 80+ years
  • the art exhibit was enjoyed by all attending
  • our Lecturer prepared a handout titled “Who We Are, What We Do” which outlined our Community Service and Fund Raising events
  • new visitors to Grange expressed the following thoughts:
    • “Thank you for inviting me, I had a wonderful time,
    • I had no idea this Grange did so much in our community,
    • I can’t join right now, but I will gladly help, please call me,
    • I only come to Maine in the Summer, but I will make sure to come to this event next year….we loved it,
    • I need 2 applications, one for me and one for my friend.”

I am a firm believer that the best advertising for Grange is our Grangers themselves. Please invite your friends and neighbors to your Grange, and please let us know what worked for you.

P.S. I want to apologize to you all for the uncertainty in our personal lives that is spilling over into our Grange lives as well. Jim Rogers and I are both younger members of our families, and we currently have five siblings that are terminally ill, none local. We appreciate your good thoughts, and will try to minimize the impact this has on our Grange activities. Thank you for your understanding.

 

Jul 132016
 

by Rick Grotton, State Master

I hope all of you are enjoying this summer. As August is near, elections are over and soon installations will be taking place. And soon after that will be State Grange Session which will be held at the Skowhegan Community Center from Thursday, October 20 beginning at 1 pm until Saturday, October 23.  Please make arrangements to have delegates from your Subordinate Grange or Pomona Grange to attend this very important annual session. Decisions need to be made so use your voice and vote.

Speaking of State Grange, remember, you do NOT need to be a sixth degree member to be a delegate or to attend the session.  Any Subordinate member in good standing can attend. The session is opened in the 6th degree but is then lowered to the 4th degree to allow those who are not sixth degree members to enter the session. If you come with intent to take your 6th degree, then make sure you have received your 5th degree at Pomona.

In my travels, some important questions are being asked concerning Grange procedures concerning mergers, procedures for closing a Grange, and what does State Grange do with the dues sent by Subordinate Granges. It seems there are some confusion or lack of knowledge about Grange by-laws and procedures.  With new members joining it is imperative that all members know the answers to these questions and much more. Even some “seasoned members” either were not taught or confused about what are by-laws are on every level. It is our duty as Grangers to share our knowledge and to ensure that everyone is on the same level of understanding. Read on for answers to some FAQs. Please take time to educate or refresh your knowledge concerning the National Digest which affects every one of us.

First, your Subordinate dues end up in three places, your Subordinate, State and National Grange. The Subordinate sends $5.75 per member or $11.50 per family to State Grange quarterly which in turn sends $3.50 per member or $7 per family quarterly to National Grange. So, only $2.25 quarterly is retained by State Grange from your dues. The rest is retained by the Subordinate Grange depending on the amount of annual dues as stated in their by-laws. So if a member pays $25 annually to a Subordinate for dues, $2 goes to the Subordinate Grange, $9 to State Grange and $14 to National.  Remember that there are Golden Sheaf Award members (receiving their award prior to January 1, 2001 who are exempt from paying dues.

Most of the Granges that have been “officially” closed lately by State Grange concern Granges who have not met in an extended period of time and whose secretaries were still paying dues on those inactive members in order to keep the Grange “existing” as such or those whose membership is below the required thirteen members need to operate as a Grange. There are some halls out there which have been “abandoned'” since the Grange hasn’t met and are just wasting away and wasting money with no intent of reorganization. This is not good for public image of the Grange. This cleanup is necessary.

The procedure to close is to notify in writing to State Grange the intent and reasons for closing. It is then presented to the State Executive Committee. A letter is sent to all members to inform them of the intention to close and the date of the regular meeting that the vote is to take place. The date should also be communicated to the State Master and the Deputy. In the event a quorum (seven members) is not reached, the State Master will remove the Charter and take possession of the remaining assets. Demits will be issued by State Grange to the members in good standing. If a vote is reached to close, the Grange Hall, Charter and property reverts to the State Grange as indicated in the National Grange by-laws. Demits will be presented to all members in good standing from the closing Subordinate Grange. These demits will be good for 6 months from the time issued and the demit holder considered an Inactive member until joining another Grange within the term of the demit. When presented to a Grange of choice for membership, that Grange will vote on the member requesting membership.  If a member wishes to join a Grange after the demit has expired (considered a former member), they will pay a reinstatement fee of $2. They will start as a new member since continuous membership has been interrupted upon expiration of the demit.

If a Grange wishes to merge with another, letters from the Grange intending to merge and the Grange accepting the merger with the other will be sent to State Grange. The letters will include the minutes of the meetings where the vote to merge was done and also from the meeting of the Grange accepting the merged Grange. Any property, including the hall, reverts to the accepting Grange and if sold, the first $1000 will be given to the new Grange and the rest held in trust by the State Grange until such monies are requested (for Grange purposes) by letter of intent by the accepting Grange and upon approval of the State Executive Committee.

If you wish to change your meeting Subordinate nights, you must notify all members, notify State Grange, and update your by-laws accordingly!!!

Please ask questions concerning procedures, laws and by-laws or other “need to know” topics and the answers will be published. Also, at State Grange Conference we will be holding a “Town Hall” forum where members and delegates can speak about concerns and procedures. It should be an educational and informative session. Please attend!!!

A very fun and successful fundraising was held June 25 at Headquarters for State Grange. A yard sale, food sale and sales by individual vendors were the norm. Many thanks to the coordinators, donors, participants and volunteers who helped raise over $700 on a hot sunny day. New T-shirts with animation and a cute saying “Farmers: Outstanding in their Field” were a hit and sold for $12.00. Any orders should go to Steven Haycock, Fundraising Director.

There are many exciting things going on throughout the State. If you want to receive information concerning these events GOTO mainestateGrange.org and hit the subscribe button. This will put you on an electronic mailing list so that you can receive from and have Grange information posted to the website.

Enjoy the rest of the Summer and many thanks for your good Grange work!!

Jun 172016
 

BY JOE STEFENONI
National Grange Membership/Leadership Director
membershipatnationalgrangedotorg  (membershipatnationalgrangedotorg)  

RetentionAny decline in membership has a negative impact on Grange programs and diminishes the public presence local Granges have in their communities. When we encounter these declines, we must seriously consider what is causing the problem and how to solve it. Instinctively, we all come to the conclusion that we should just seek out new members and ask them to join the Grange.

However, what we fail to consider is that membership declines occur because of two reasons, the second reason being that we are losing existing members. Some loses are inevitable; we cannot evade the passing of members from this life to the great Grange above, but we can make every effort possible to ensure that our members are furnished with every reason possible to renew their membership. When members are of the mindset that their membership is valued by others, then they will be more likely and willing to share the organization with others.

We recruit thousands of new members a year, but what good does this do if we lose as many members because they’re not renewing their membership? How can excited new members suddenly become disheartened? From my experiences and observations, some say that after joining the Grange, no one reached out to them, welcomed them or made sure they felt they were truly a Brother or Sister of the Order. Then when it came time to renew their membership, no one contacted them. To thrive as an organization, we must adopt the mantra: to recruit, but also retain. Grange members work hard in their communities every day to bring new members into our organization, but we as the whole Grange must work even harder to build lasting relationships with every person who is a Grange member who joins our organization.

New members are wonderful additions to our organization. They bring vitality, new ideas and new connections to the Grange, but by neglecting to work to retain those members we bring in, we’re taking two steps forward and one step back.  Each Grange needs a clear strategy and volunteers devoted to membership retention and emphasis needs to be placed on building lasting relationships with new and existing members who will ultimately sustain our organization and keep Grange programs, activities and events operating into the future.

Here are 20 tips for bolstering membership retention:

  1. Send a thank you note for joining or volunteering. This could a physical card or an e-mail.
  2. Give an incentive, such as a free gift, to members who renew their membership by a certain date.
  3. Communicate successes to members regularly.
  4. When sending out membership renewal notices, provide a recap of the activities and events of the past year and tell how membership benefited them this year.
  5. Send a special certificate of thanks to members who renew their membership for the first-time. Market research on organizations shows the first two years produce the most drops. Focus hard on the first renewal.
  6. Develop a written retention plan. In this plan include goals such as retention rate, percent of drops that were first year members, activities to be undertaken, resources available to help, etc.
  7. Do a survey of important questions and issues as they arise. Ask members what projects/activities/events they would like to see the Grange host and how they can commit to helping the Grange.
  8. Establish a member-mentoring plan. When someone joins your Grange, assign them to a current member(s) who will be a welcoming and friendly face for the new member when they come to their second meeting. Have the mentor explain the responsibilities and obligations of Grange membership, the ritual and traditions of the Grange and the structure of our organization. By doing this, a new member will be fully versed in the Grange structure, history and traditions as they begin their Grange journey.
  9. When looking to retain members, reach out to those who were formerly members and didn’t renew their membership. Ask them why they didn’t renew, tell what activities/projects your Grange is conducting and then ask them to rejoin your Grange.
  10. Keep experienced members active through targeted involvement. It is important to keep both current and new members interested and involved. Keep the activities meaningful.
  11. During functions, suggest that officers look for new members and spend time with them. Have a special name tag for new members indicating their status.
  12. When a new member joins, e-mail congratulations from the Master or Secretary that same day.
  13. There are only two forms of currency that we can use to “pay” our members: Recognition and tradition!! Look for any opportunity to recognize any member’s contribution. Draw upon the Grange’s rich traditions to create a sense of being and inclusion.
  14. Have new members serve as greeters during a meeting so they can get to know all the members.
  15. Keep the FUN in fundraisers, community service activities and meetings to get members interested and involved. You can still accomplish your goals while keeping the process lively and fun.
  16. Remember that the best time to retain members is BEFORE they show signs of dissatisfaction. Make sure members know you care about them. If they start missing meetings or are becoming less involved in activities, give them a call to find out why before it becomes a chronic situation.
  17. Encourage input from your members regarding your Grange’s community activities. Ask new members for their ideas — they may have some fresh, exciting thoughts, and asking for their input will show that you are interested in their opinions.
  18. Involve new members in Grange activities quickly. Have them participate in an event as soon as they show an interest in your Grange. Ask them to co-chair a committee or coordinate a small activity in the early stages of their membership.
  19. Don’t let activities and fundraisers become stale. Make sure that your association’s activities are still relevant for your community and your members. Periodically try something new.
  20. Let members be involved at their comfort level and respect that level of involvement. Some members are comfortable jumping in feet first while others prefer to just come to meeting and test the waters for a while. Be sure to actively communicate with members to know what their comfortable level of participation is.
Jun 162016
 

stick_figure_holding_membership_card_400_clr_3914In the last few days of membership year 2016 don’t forget to think about participating in the contest from the Membership Department. The program is very simple; we are looking to recognize members who put forth the effort to bring in new members to our organization, whether it is 1 or 100. This program will begin on January 1, 2016 and end on June 30, 2016.

Members who recruit new members will be recognized for their efforts at the 150th Annual Session of the National Grange. Members who recruit 1-4 new members will be recognized as a “+1 Builder”. Members that recruit 5-9 new members will be recognized as a “Grange Builder” and members that recruit 10 or more new member will be recognized as a “Super Recruiter”.

The count is based on who signs the first recommendation line on a new member’s application. Attached is the form for Subordinate Secretaries to keep track of who has recruited members into their Grange. The form is broken out by month to make it easier for Secretaries to keep track. At the close of the 2nd quarter of 2016, Subordinate Secretaries will submit this along with their quarterly report, which can then be emailed directly to the Membership Director at membershipatnationalgrangedotorg.

A brief letter explaining the contest and a form for Subordinate Secretaries to use to submit entries is available on the Maine State Grange website under Program Books and Information. (Scroll down to the membership section.)