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New, notable, and quotable…

August 6, 2018

“We’re just two funerals away from having a very good governance structure.” CEO of an Alliance member society

Despite this darkly humorous take on the struggles of fraternals to modernize their operations, progress CAN be made without relying on the undertaker. Here are a few recent examples:
  • The National Catholic Society of Foresters, who just four years ago were given a stern warning by regulators to “shape up or ship out,” have enacted sweeping changes to the society’s governance structure that have resulted in stabilizing the organization and allowing its board and management team to develop a realistic strategic plan based on facts rather than hope. I participated in the convention four years ago, as well as last week’s first-ever “Member Assembly” – a more modern member gathering that focuses on teaching local chapter leaders how to be more effective community service volunteers – and the change in NCSF’s approach to both day-to-day operations and long-term planning is remarkable. Congratulations to CEO Lisa Bickus and her courageous board for their efforts to promote and enact this corporate makeover.
  • Harald Borrmann and the board of Catholic United Financial achieved a similar victory this week when delegates attending the society’s Annual Convention voted overwhelmingly to meet every three years and substitute regional meetings in the off years with agendas tied almost exclusively to members and officers networking and sharing ideas. This not only reduces the significant financial resources and staff time that were invested in conducting annual conventions, it also offers members the chance to come together in ways that help the society carry out its social mission more effectively.
  • George Juba and the board of GCU took that initiative a step further earlier this year when delegates voted to eliminate the convention altogether and substitute a series of regional meetings where members can come together to discuss and implement more effective community service engagement. Of course, such a change did not occur overnight, as George explained to fraternal executives at a Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh conference earlier this year. It took almost four years of painstaking work to communicate to local chapters and convention delegates the board’s reasons for recommending this change. But the result was near unanimous support for the measure.
  • Finally, the Knights of Columbus has launched an on-line membership drive to recruit the next generation of the society’s members. The new program was developed based on the results of extensive research on members and non-members and is designed to streamline the process of joining the Knights, especially for younger audiences. Early results indicate that those signing up online are about 13 years younger than the average age of the current membership.
Got a great story about how your society is modernizing? Share it below or send it to me at jannotti@fraternalalliance.org.