Innovation through Technology grows Occoneechee Lodge
Innovation is a word we hear a lot in the Order of the Arrow and in the Boy Scouts of America. It means “a new method, idea, product, etc.” Every lodge strives to create something innovative for themselves to help grow their membership, keep members active, and improve the member experience. For Occoneechee Lodge, we take a lot of pride in our technology team. We’ve found, over the years, that investing in our technology infrastructure can help alleviate tedious tasks and free up time for planning more program aspects of our lodge. Here are a few solutions we’ve implemented that have helped us:
Our main website (lodge104.net) is the first piece of technology new and current members see when searching for information about the lodge. Over the years it’s taken many different forms but we recently implemented a new design that looks professional and relevant. It is built with WordPress, much like the Section’s website. We use a theme called “Extra” that we’ve customized it to fit our needs. The theme can be found here: https://www.elegantthemes.com/gallery/extra/. One of the attracting parts of this theme is that it uses the Divi builder which makes it easy for anyone, including youth, to manage the website.
Additionally, we also use a number of subdomains to help separate our content a little. For example, we have a support website (support.lodge104.net) and it allows members and non-members to contact lodge staff members and ask questions. It also contains our knowledge base, which is essentially a frequently asked questions section. With the implementation of a knowledge base, we’ve dramatically reduced repeating questions we often get. Our support site is running an open source software called osTicket with a custom client-side theme that resembles our main site. With almost 2,000 members in our lodge, we get a lot of emails from parents and members. After a while, we decided to implement this software to help us organize everything. It has really become an essential part of our lodge operation over the past three years.
As a Lodge Chief, I find one of the most important systems we use is our survey system. We run an open source software called Limesurvey on our survey site. After every event, we build a complex survey via this system that allows us to ask specific questions to different sectors of members. In the past, we used google forms for this but it didn’t have enough tools for us to collect and analyze the types of data we wanted. This software allows for us to create comprehensive reports from our members we use in planning future events.
Another subdomain we have is our NOAC site. We run a software called DotNetNuke on this site. We’re using DNN rather than WordPress for this because it gives us better tools for managing our NOAC contingent directly within the site. We’ve even been able to set up a portal within the site that allows members to check their status and see which payments they still need to make all contained on the site.
The last subdomain I want to highlight for you is our registration system. This is a custom built system by one of our very talented members that allows lodge members to register for events, pay dues, and even print their membership cards. This system has allowed us to grow at a rapid rate and has already processed 9,000 transactions since we implemented it in January of 2015.
We have several other smaller subdomains with our site that you might find linked in our main website. One of the most important aspects of creating multiple sites for us is having them all resemble our main site. If we change our color scheme on our main site, we change it on all our sites.
Lastly, and I hope I haven’t lost you in all this, we strive to make all our websites secure. Each site uses SSL encryption via a wildcard certificate. We find it to be a crucial part of keeping our members and website visitors safe.
If your lodge is interested in improving your technology infrastructure, feel free to reach out to our technology team and they’ll share more resources with you: firstname.lastname@example.org.