Online collaboration can bring back that brother who moved to Florida a few years ago. You can involve brethren who previously could not be involved due to time restraints. Remember the lesson of Brotherly Love? “Freemasonry unites men from every country, sect, and opinion, and conciliates true friendships among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.” Online collaboration can take that one step further – uniting men with different schedules from locations near and far.
How about this concept from the first degree? “We claim these large dimensions to denote the universality of Freemasonry … As long as from East to West, as broad as between North and South.” Online collaboration can give you the practical ability to expand your lodge’s reach globally, wherever your brothers may reside.
I already touched on this subject in my LOI Update on January 21st. In that article, I specifically targeted Google Docs because it’s an easy-to-use free tool, but there are a number of other tools to choose from, some of which I have profiled below. You can also, of course, use a Facebook Group to collaborate, but the applications in this summary offer a wider range of communication and publishing options.
Microsoft Office 365
Moderately priced at $9.99 per month, Office 365 provides a full suite of tools, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive—and on your PC, Publisher and Access. For online collaboration with lodge brothers both in and out of state, you can share users in via email to edit documents and spreadsheets, have secure group conversations, send and receive emails, and save all your work online, so you can access it from your mobile, tablet, or laptop.
If you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated, but at the same cost as Office 365, check out Trello. Priced at $9.99 a month, Trello gives you the added advantage of integration with other collaboration apps such as Jira, Bitbucket, Evernote, Google Hangouts, Mailchimp, Salesforce, Slack, Google Drive, and Dropbox. It is NOT a tool for the technology novice, but it is a highly effective collaboration engine that is ideal for event planning and lodge projects.
Online collaboration tools can be used for lodge inventory, but also for event planning and project management. The final application I have on today’s list is Asana. I’ve used a similar product called Basecamp in the past, but they now charge $99 a month, a rate that I’m certain no lodge is going to pay for project management software. I see Asana as a good fit for lodges because the admin needs some tech skills, but users, regardless of their technical comfort level, won’t struggle with it. The price point is attractive also, with a free package and a premium upgrade for $9.99 a month. Check out the video below to learn more:
Is all of this really necessary?
For those of you who read these posts and feel that the use of this technology is unnecessary, think five years down the road. Easily managed WordPress websites, automated connections to social media, member lists and documented communications in Constant Contact, and online collaboration archives will all help those who come after you. The setup may be time consuming and tedious, but the rewards your lodge will reap in the future are immeasurable.
In the 22nd District, RW Craig Claflin recently formed a “technology team” that will help each of our six lodges create the technology infrastructure they need to be successful. I’ll be covering the steps we take in that endeavor in upcoming articles in this space. I’ll also be teaching a lesson in February on how to join multiple websites together to maximize reach, another District 22 project.
For questions or feedback, email Kevin@HiramsEdge.com.