Doc-Why a web presence is needed

This page describes why, in the writer’s opinion, a web presence is needed for local Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star (OES).

In the past (late 1900’s) the Masonic Family organizations were a destination for social interaction between individuals. As technology has grown the Masonic family, through no real fault of it’s own) has lost relevancy to the current target member demographic.  Technology, in all forms, from the smart phones, the tablets, the laptop, and desktop systems have become serious competition for available discretionary time for the younger adults of today.

When you, the reader, are planning to buy something, go somewhere, or join an organization, what is the first thing you do? I suggest that today’s target demographic (the men and women aged 20+) uses their technology of choice to search for information about the item, place, or organization they are interested in.  What message do we, as members and Chapters if OES, send to our target audience? I suggest that because we, generally speaking, are not online and visible that we fail in meeting the seeker’s needs. He/she cannot find us. They cannot see the good we do by our participation in local and state/national community service.  If the potential member cannot find us and find out about what we are all about how can we expect them to show any interest in potentially joining the organization?  Sadly, I suggest that we fail the test and as a result turn away many well qualified and potentially excellent members – simply because we are not technologically relevant to the target audience.

Similarly, our current and future potential membership base needs a consistent, comprehensive, and current source for authoritative information on what’s happening in their home Chapter and in the local Chapters in their geographical area.  Many Chapters have an excellent newsletter, but what distribution does it have? Does it reach all members – and potential members- in the geographic area? I suggest that while the Chapter’s members may know what is happening, members of other local chapters in the area do not, and consequently may miss opportunities to participate in regional events.  And, most important, the information absolutely does not reach the target member pool of potential members.

For example, as of this writing in early January, 2016, in California there are some 150-odd operating Chapters of Eastern Star with a very small number of them (less than 15) having a website listed on the California Grand Chapter website. Of those few links listed several lead to dead links and two are not websites but rather a Facebook group and a blog. The writer found only two links that actually led to current operational websites. The remaining links lead to websites that appear to be outdated and/or not maintained. And…importantly… the links that do exist are behind the login firewall of the Grand Chapter website and not accessible by visitors or the potential member seeking information about potentially joining a local OES Chapter.  What impression do we present to the potential member pool who are seeking comprehensive current information? I suspect that we “turn-off” potential members simply because we fail in being technologically relevant to today’s target audience.

The writer suggests that having a consistent, comprehensive, and readily available web presence addresses what the writer sees as challenges to membership acquisition and retention. The web environment is the writer’s response to the challenge.