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Membership News
2020 Membership Milestones

By Faith Quinlan, CT State Grange Membership Director

  NOVEMBER 5, 2020 --

To say that growing membership for the Grange is a challenge on a normal year is an understatement.  To grow membership without meetings, in house events or community service during 2020 feels nearly impossible.  You may have realized though, I don’t give up easily and with creative thinking and collaboration we can get through this successfully. When I spoke to the Board in February about coming on full-time.  I planned to visit as many Granges as possible to create specific membership development plans, along with a few big educational events.  The event to kick it off was to be presented by a professional speaker on leadership and Membership Growth.  The basis of the plan was in-person events.  Within a week of accepting the position in March, the schools in Connecticut, and business began to shut down.

This Spring when the pandemic hit, the State Grange made changes and took action to best serve our members and our communities.  We quickly made a shift with meetings going virtual, events cancelled or changed to drop off and pick up and now, right here, the biggest and largest event we have yet held virtually, the 136th Session of the Connecticut State Grange.  

The pandemic shocked us and we are still struggling to make changes in our lives to adjust but in certain aspects, things have improved.  Many people work from home now and they have more time with their children and families.  Families that were over booked after school and on weekends have learned to slow down and do more together.  I do not make light on the financial stresses of this time but there is a positive quality of life that has returned to some households.  Maybe this is the slow down we need as an organization to see clearly what our towns and cities need to feel supported by the Grange so we may serve them better.  This is a meeting point between the past and the future and we are getting a chance to shape how we fit into that future and continue to be relevant.

We have become dependent on in-person events as the source of revenue and membership growth.  We have not been able to include the busy families or the sick and the physically challenged people in our meetings.  Because of virtual meetings they have a much better opportunity to participate.  For some Grangers their children and younger relatives are assisting to get them online.  This helps tie us together in a shared experience.  

Seven months ago I was absolutely guilty of not stretching to see what was possible virtually for us to develop new members.  I was caught between knowing what used to work and having a dream of bringing the Granges back from the brink of extinction.  Made clear by the fact that I presented my platform for employment for the State Grange on this very thinking.  Events will always be a valuable piece of the membership community-building puzzle.  We must expand our ideas and evolve with this new but hopefully temporary new world.  

Though we have had a rough start and needed time to adjust to the changes, we quickly refocused to serve the current membership and the Board took quick action to make a Zoom account available for Granges to meet virtually.  We solved the Logistical Issue of how to have a meeting.

Many Granges have used this Zoom account plus there are many who have used their own account, or they made phone calls or sent emails to keep in touch.  Some Granges have really moved out of their comfort level and have made attempts to meet virtually even with limited computer users. 

On the National level, National Membership Director, Joe Stephenoni, has offered membership meetings open to everyone over the past few weeks.  He is teaching and offering open discussions to help Granges to problem solve during these tough times.  I was able to attend one in September and found the group brain-storming helpful.  He and I also chatted again to discuss what he is working on and the plans for the next year.  Of course this is where public health and safety guidelines allow.

As you may remember, at the 2019 state session, a resolution regarding Virtual Granges was passed as a tool to grow participation by younger generations.  When speaking to Joe he explained he has found these types of Granges to be challenging.  We will continue to discover and explore the best approach and though it seems much more in reach going forward.  

We chatted about the benefits of membership, tangible and intangible.  Based on that discussion   I will be creating materials with all the benefits of membership that will be updated and distributed to Granges as a Membership growth tool.  I will also be seeking to add more benefits that are specifically relevant to Connecticut. 

The National Membership Director said he has suggested we offer our halls, where possible, to help schools and other community organizations that can not meet in their own spaces due to size and number of people regulations.  There are schools that allow clubs to meet but not on school grounds.  This free offer will get new people into our halls and be of service.  

Another share of halls is happening in California where they are setting up 2 different Granges with different charters who share the same building.  These Granges have different focus but with this arrangement the hall is supported and members can join depending on their interest.  This is and idea I will approach the Executive Board about in the next few weeks.

When thinking to the future we will be experimenting with things that have been working for other Granges around the country plus businesses and organizations who have managed to grow and thrive these past several months.  

Interestingly, the key word that came up in the conversation with Joe was Logistics.  Our challenges across the table for the next year will be LOGISTICS.  So much so that our first thought with every meeting, event or fundraising idea should be, What are the Logistics to make this work?  

Linking that to a quote from the National Membership Director, “The next 15 months, our success depends on how well we engage our communities.”  I say let’s be smart and creative in our approach.  Let us find out who needs us, how can we logistically help them safely and let us be prepared to show them all the benefits to joining our team.  We are a team of hard working, community serving,  people, planet and animal loving citizens.  We who should be honored to have found our way to the Grange and proud enough to share our history with a side of “look at us now!”

And with that I would Proudly like to announce some Membership Committee awards:  I would like to congratulate these first 2 Granges.  They are tied for 1st place for the

Largest Number of New Members that joined this year.

The Tie for 1st place with 9 new members each is:  Senexet #40 (9) and Cannon #152 (9)

Along with their Certificates I will be mailing them a Visa Gift Card they may use toward anything they like that is for the good of the Order at their Community Grange.

The Second Award will go to the Grange that has the highest NET GAIN 

This is the Grange that saw membership grow and when we subtracted the number of members lost – they have the highest “Net Gain” or Retention plus Growth.  That Grange is:  Cannon #152 (+9)

They will receive an additional amount on their Visa Gift Card.

The final award is a Brand New Category this year.  This award is given to the first Grange to meet virtually after all Granges were shut down to in person meeting.

This is the, Early Adopters Award, Early Adopters are people who start using a product or technology as soon as it becomes available.  As soon as the Zoom account was made available to members, they were first to reach out and set up their meeting.  They also have continued meeting virtually on a regular basis.  This Grange is Vernon Grange.  They too will receive a Visa gift card.

As I wrap-up I want to say Thank you to these awarded Granges and to All the Granges that have still gained members this year, many have done so even during the lock down.  Every new member is a wonderful addition and the people who share the Grange message are truly loyal and dedicated members, again, Thank you.  It is my pleasure to serve all of you and I will work hard to expand and support membership this next year.  Thank you.


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