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WE NOW HOLD THE BROTHER
Richard C. Friedman W. Bro. Richard Friedamn is a Past Master of E.R.A.C. Lodge #943, Rochester, N.Y. He authored the 12-90 STB "Brother Bring a Friend Night" which has proved to be one of the most popular and motivating STB's put out by the MSA. ---Editor
In the Short Talk Bulletin of December 1990. I proposed a program called "Brother Bring a Friend Night" to spur efforts towards Membership Development. My own Lodge, District and parts of New York State use the program actively. In areas where it is utilized we are making new Masons. Three years later we are faced with a different problem: how do we keep the new Mason involved and reinvigorate the senior Mason to the point where we do not see the frustrating rise in the loss of membership due to non payment of dues or demits? In short, how do we get focused on MEMBERSHIP RETENTION?
Following the World Wars, Masonry saw a huge rise in membership. I have seen Lodge programs from my own small Lodge which indicated 70 men in waiting for the various degrees. Sadly, history tells us that Masonry, as a whole, did little or nothing to retain these men as active members in Craft Masonry. With the start of a new era in bringing in Masons, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past. We must make new Masons and retain them as vital links in the Masonic Chain, especially at the level of the "Blue Lodge". This Short Talk will deal with some of the key points for Membership Retention from a LODGE level and in a programmatic way. It will present a vision of how one Lodge, having somewhat solved its Membership Development problems took on the challenge of retaining its members. I am well aware that most of the ideas about to be presented have been out in the field for years.
The tragedy is that our Brethren DO NOT USE THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO THEM !
Over the course of the last several years, Can Do Lodge #7777 convinced its members to adopt a Membership Development program. Using the Brother Bring a Friend Night and materials from the Masonic Renewal Task Force, the Lodge members were motivated to go out and bring in new members. The Lodge responded and brought in 20 new members in three years. At a recent Lodge meeting only 8 of those new members were present. At the same meeting 6 senior members were dropped for non-payment of dues and 4 demits were read. The Master of the Lodge knew something was wrong. Where were the new guys who looked so excited by the degree work? The Master commissioned a Lodge Task Force to review the situation and make recommendations for implementation.
THE KEY QUESTIONS
The first task the TEAM faced was to come up with a list of honest questions which would clarify the problem. These were the questions they developed and asked themselves honestly :
THE EVALUATION: EXCEDRIN HEADACHE #7777
The Task Force quickly realized that the painful questions that they asked led them to the even more painful reality that the Lodge was lacking in many areas. The Task Force put the key questions in writing and sent them to the membership. This began a process of letting the members know that the leadership understood that THEY mattered to the future of the Lodge. When Can Do Lodge had a severe membership problem they had DISCUSSED it outside of the normal Lodge meeting in a risk free environment and as a TEAM.
The Retention Task Force followed this pattern and got the Master to schedule a brain storming session. They mailed an invitation to attend to the entire membership. At the brainstorming session it was obvious that many of the brothers held similar concerns and gave similar suggestions to the Task Force. The Task force in turn asked the brother in attendance to commit to working in areas of their CHOICE in the membership retention effort. The Task Force was now ready to make suggestions for an action plan.
THE PLAN: BROTHERLY LOVE, EDUCATION, COMMUNICATION AND CHANGE!
The Task Force proposed the formation of several action Teams working in different but focused areas to address positive solutions to the key questions arising from the evaluation and feedback phase. Each action team developed specific implementation goals to recommend to the Lodge. The following section details the different action teams specific recommendations. Each TEAM knew that it would be accountable for following through on its suggestions.
The Family Involvement Action Team. This team recommended:
The Masonic Education Action Team. This TEAM recommended:
The Masters Wages Action Team. This TEAM recommended:
The Executive Program Action Team. This TEAM recommended:
The Community Involvement Team. This TEAM recommended:
The Feedback, Fun and Continuity Action Team. This TEAM recommended:
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity"
The Lodge had come to understand that the key to membership retention was the creation of a culture whereby a Brother feels that he really misses something great when he can't attend a meeting.
Can Do Lodge had become a place where every brother could relate, from the heart, to the words of the ancient Scottish Tyler's toast:
"Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again"
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Last modified: March 22, 2014