In 2020, because of the immediate lockdown due to the pandemic, the world was given an unforeseen opportunity: to slow down and reflect. This opportunity gave way to the Thrive program, initially named Thrive Connect. Thrive now serves as a partnership with lodges with the same mission in mind, to help lodges elevate their performance. The current model of the program is split into two different phases that work throughout the year, every other week. The first phase is titled the “Discovery Phase,” and is designed to connect with lodge leadership to understand their challenges and where help is most needed. The following phase is known as the “Promise and Possibility Phase;” this phase takes the learned challenges and works to build solutions that can be implemented over the next two to three years. Since 2020, Thrive has worked with 50 lodges nationwide.
The Thrive team worked with Timmeu Lodge in the Northeast Iowa Council to make paying dues easier for members. The lodge had been using an in-person payment system that would require trips to the council office. This was not feasible for many and was slowing activation rates. The Thrive team worked with the lodge to update the payment system to an online one.
“Thrive catalyzed a profound impact on Timmeu Lodge's journey. Witnessing their remarkable trajectory unfold was nothing short of inspiring – from a modest 57 members to a robust 222, this monumental leap epitomized Timmeu's evolution under Thrive's guidance,” remarked Matt Griffin, the Thrive engagement lead who worked with Timmeu Lodge.
Kiondaga Lodge in the Buffalo Trace Council had two districts that were geographically large. This distance created a variety of issues, such as traveling, communication, engagement, and retainability of members, which lowered the lodge's success rates. The Thrive team partnered with the lodge and worked together to set up a station at district camporees to help troops and crews learn about the OA, especially units that have not interacted with the organization in quite some time.
These lodges are just a few of the many that deal with various struggles. According to Matt Griffin, such issues that exist today are “lodge membership, dues payment systems, activation rates, and costly events.”
Activation rates rely heavily on events and promotion. The Thrive team first considers certain factors within the respective lodge, such as “how do we get people back, how can we create fun events, when can we set events” and more. These questions help direct the lodge’s attention to the main goal, which is providing incredible experiences for all members. Each lodge is concerned with its own issues, some more specific than activation or dues payments. Although the Thrive program is designed to help lodges reach the 90th percentile in metrics, it is, at its core, a system to help the OA prosper and flourish in all of its magnificence: a chance to change the world.
The mission of Thrive was conceived by the program’s progenitors, the original 20 members on the team. The program was designed as a consulting system that would help lodges achieve the 90th percentile in inductions rate, elections, activation, and youth density. Originally, there were 20 members brought on board to lead the program which launched in June 2020. The team reached out to lodges that were struggling in the core areas and worked with them once a week. This schedule, which went from start to finish in four months, proved too demanding and rushed. Matt Griffin describes this time as the “pilot phase.” At the end of the four month period, the team took time to reflect and analyze. It was clear that change was needed in pacing and structure of the program.
The program would not have evolved if it wasn’t for the growth of its own team members. Shortly after the “pilot phase” the team divided itself into subcommittees to better their efficiency. This decision would call for an increase of members. Recruitment became a byproduct of the program. Through each partnership the team makes with a lodge, the lodge’s leaders are encouraged to consider joining the program in an effort to better other lodges and represent their own.
As Matt Griffin describes, “there is no absolute qualification and we are looking for a mindset to help change the world. We have brought in people from lodges that are going through challenges such as mergers. The relationships that I've been able to build through Thrive transcend the Scouting world, these folks are part of an extended family. I talk to most of these folks seemingly every day.”
Thrive is a grand opportunity to not only serve one’s lodge and section alongside others, but to help one grow as a person. When it comes to making personal connections in this world, Thrive stands out as an excellent program. Skills such as problem solving, problem identification, speaking, creativity, and more can all be developed and carried over into careers or other personal activities. Thrive is neither demanding nor harsh, as the time commitment is about 1-2 hours per week.
Matt Griffin is well known for his saying, “people don’t join organizations, people join people.” The ultimate benefit of Thrive to its team members is the friendships made and the views that are challenged. Thrive is a chance to work on the OA’s highest level, nationally, across lodges and sections, with talented Arrowmen and future leaders.
Today, as an organization, we still face challenges, but many--through the power of Thrive--have seen solutions. Through change and growth, the program has become a successful resource for the vitality of the OA and its longevity. As a team, Thrive is an outstanding way to engage in service and fellowship, but ultimately, a way to reach new heights as an Arrowman. If there is an interest in becoming a Thrive partner or requesting an engagement for your lodge, click the link here to head to the Thrive page!