What would it take to get you out to the Elks?

March 25, 2014

By David Hayes

The picture is not rosy.

Despite all the good Elks lodges do for their communities across the nation, membership continues to decline.

As a result, the fewer the members the less money is raised for local college scholarships or the elimination of programs that support Wounded Warrior snowmobiling outings.

David Hayes Press reporter

David Hayes
Press reporter

The situation is not yet dire at Issaquah’s Lake Sammamish Lodge No. 1843, but something needs to be done to turn the downward trend around before it’s too late.

The annual membership fee of $100 is, what, two less lattes every month? So, that’s not the problem. The problem also isn’t that the Elks doesn’t get out in the community. Unfortunately, it’s the community that doesn’t get out to the lodge.

The traditional draws to the center just don’t pack ‘em in like they used to — Thursday night dinners offer wonderfully cooked meals and the poker league still draws a steady core group. But neither event has been bringing in new members.

So, what would it take to draw in newbies? Members’ automatic access to other lodges nationwide does Issaquah no good.

Our members have wracked their brains to draw in fresh attendees, but it’s time to start thinking outside the box we’re trapped in.

A quick search of Google turned up an article in Jewish World Review, detailing declining membership in all fraternal organizations. But one trend it cited as a possible savior is drawing in the family unit.

Let’s face it, fraternal organizations are notoriously renowned for their secret meetings and halls/lodges that are little more than a cheep watering hole for members. And still not many know the Issaquah Elks has long welcomed women members and even has the all-female Emblem Club.

But to get new members, some are tapping into families and their needs. What would it take to draw you and your family to the Issaquah lodge?

For example, forgetting costs for now, would we be better serving the community if we had more youth activities, such as a venue to host teen bands and dances? Would we draw more families if we had child care services? Would we draw parents if we offered a workout facility instead of just a big meeting hall?

I’ve heard of other facilities that actually have swimming pools and bowling alleys. Would you join for access to those?

We sport a top-notch kitchen. What would we have to offer to get you to come and enjoy a well-cooked meal from it? Perhaps schools could re-introduce a culinary program, utilizing our facility.

We’ve got too many clubs in our community to count. How many of them would rather meet in our hall than their current restaurant, members’ home, etc.? Let us know. We’re accommodating.

Location, location, location are three of the top concerns in real estate. Would you join the lodge if the it had a higher profile location on Gilman Boulevard or elsewhere rather than a street off the beaten path?

To paraphrase a Tom Cruise movie, help us help you. No idea is too crazy. Logistics and finances can be worked out later. Don’t let the Issaquah lodge go the way of the Palatka Lodge.

What? Never heard of the Palatka Lodge?


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