The Grand Lodge of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks has placed Membership Growth as a priority for the Order. For the past two years, the Order has grown, reversing a several decade period of decline. The Grand Lodge Membership & Marketing Committee is hard at work using many ways to encourage growth for a third year in a row, and one of the ways to do this is through membership statistics. The Committee has placed on a Leadership Dashboard which shows the top 10 State Associations and Lodges nationwide, and those statistics can be found here: Leadership Dashboard (

The State of Maine is currently in 5th Place in the “Lost N’ Found” Metric, which reflects the number of members lost for non-payment of dues per hundred members initiated. A Lost N Found ratio of less than 80 is considered conducive to growth, 80-85 is suspect at best, and anything higher is a definite loss. Here are the top ten States in the country for this index:

  1. Connecticut (35)
  2. New Jersey
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Nevada
  5. Maine (43)
  6. Idaho
  7. California
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Virginia
  10. Oregon

The graph above shows the trend since 1996, and it appears that Maine began to improve its Lost N Found metric starting in 2010. Back then, the State was definitely losing members, but starting around 2016, the state began to transition to growth, and with the exception of the period of COVID in 2020 where many members dropped their membership, the number shot up to 179. However, the overall trend continued downward over the next two years. This is great work on the part of the Elk Lodges in Maine to retain their members.

The State of Maine is also in sixth place nationwide in the Membership Retention Index. This index shows the percentage of members who were initiated three years ago and are still currently active members. As of October 1, 2023, that percentage currently stands at 83%. Three years ago, in 2020, under the duress of COVID, Maine Elks initiated a total of 444 members. Today, 369 of those members are still active. Maine joins several other Area 1 States in membership retention. Here are the current standings:

  1. Connecticut (88.6%)
  2. New Jersey
  3. New York
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Maine (83.1%)
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Nevada
  9. Minnesota
  10. Maryland

Nationwide, the percentage is only 75.88%, with 37,702 members being initiated and 28,609 being retained. So, Maine is 7.2% above the national percentage. With six of the seven states in Area 1 leading the rest of the country in membership retention, we must be doing something right. Maine, much like other states in Area 1 are actively involved in their communities through Grand Lodge programs such as the Elks Hoop Shoot, Soccer Shoot, Community Projects, Community Investment Grants, Junior Golf, JROTC, Student & Teenager of the Month/Year, Antlers, Support of Scouting, Medals of Valor & Service, Dictionary Project, and of course support of our Veterans and charitable organizations in our communities.

While the Maine Elk Lodges are doing well in retaining members over the past three years, we need to look to the future and reduce the number of members who have not yet paid their dues for the current year. It is now October 1st, which is the midpoint of the Elk year, so with half the year completed, it is important to reach out to members who have not yet paid their dues in order to remind them or find out why they haven’t paid. A simple phone call can often clear that up quickly. Maine currently stands in 24th nationwide in the Delinquent Ratio, which is the number of delinquent members per hundred active members. The lower the number in this metric the better. Currently Connecticut leads the way with a delinquent ratio of 7.87%, with Maine showing a ratio of 11.06%. So, we have some work to do in this area.

Another metric is the Candidate Ratio. This represents the number of membership candidates per 100 active members (the higher the better). Maine is currently 18th in the country with a candidate ratio of 1.86%. Leading the country is Rhode Island with a candidate ratio of 5.52%. This metric shows that while Maine is retaining those members that join, we’re lagging behind in recruitment, and completing that process by initiating new members. Lodges are encouraged to hold initiations to make those candidates who have been elected to membership and put them on the active membership rolls.

Membership is the life blood of the organization, and keeping our members actively engaged is an important part of retaining and recruiting members. The key to membership growth is engagement both within the Lodge and within the community. As the old adage goes “An Active Lodge is a Successful Lodge” is true. If a Lodge has members that are engaged in activities within the Lodge, they are more likely to keep coming back. If a Lodge doesn’t have many activities for their members, then they will likely drift away and drop their membership. The same could be true for the Lodge’s engagement with their community. Lodges who are visible in their community through the many Grand Lodge programs are more likely to recruit new members to join. Programs such as those offered by the Elks National Foundation such as the Drug Awareness Program, Hoop Shoot, Scholarships, and Community Investment Grants are a great way to engage with the community. In addition, the Elks Veterans National Service Commission offers many programs that support our nation’s veterans. Veterans s make up a good portion of our membership, as they understand that we believe in our country, our flag, and American traditions and principals. The Activities Committee also promotes programs in the community such as encouraging every Lodge to have a Community Project and recognition of first responders with the Medals of Valor and Service. In addition, programs that support our youth include the Antlers program, JROTC, Junior Golf, Soccer Shoot, Student & Teenager of the Month/Year, and support of the Scouting Program allow us to reach out to parents who could potentially become new members. The key to success is engagement!

Congratulations to the Maine Elks Association on its great work in membership retention!

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