'We now hold the Brother..."
Richard C. Friedman
W. Bro. Ridchard 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
In the Short Talk Bulletin of December
1990. I proposed a program called "Brother
Bring a Fricnd Night" to spur efforts towards
Membership Development. My own Lodge,
District and parts of New York State use the
prgram actively. In areas where it is utilized
we are making new Masons.
Three years later we are faced with a differ
ent probleln: how do we keep the new Mason
invoived and reinvigorate the senior Mason to
the point where we do not see the frustrating
rise in the loss of mcmbcrship 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
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
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
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 :
Do we call our members regularly?
Do we REACH OUT and OFFER aid and
assistance or do we sit back and assume that a11
is well if we do not hear from a Brother?
Have we asked our new members what they
are interested in regarding Freemasonry?
Did we assign them a Shepherd or Mentor
after they were raised?
Have we gone out of our way to provide
Has the Lodge REALLY taken an interest in
its members old and new?
Do we communicate with our Brothers?
Do we acknowledge Masonic and non Masonic
birthdays or annaversaries prior to 40 or 50
50 year members?
Have we asked our Brethren what they
would like to see in our Lodge Trestleboard?
What were we doing to encourage meaningful
family involvement both in and outside
of the Lodge?
Were we defining family involvement as
every member of the family joining appendant
How are we addressing the needs of young
members who have young families and working parents?
Were we doing enough to include the wives
in the life of the Lodge?
Why was the Lodge having a problelm in
garnering line officers?
Were we really active in the community?
Was there enough fun in the Lodge?
Were we paying enough attention to "paying
the Craft their wages, if any be due, that
none may go away dissatisfied"?
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 enviroment
and as a TEAM.
Thc 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 brothen
in attendance to commit to working in
areas of their CHOICE in the membership
The Task Force was now ready to make
suggestions for an action plan.
THE PLAN: BROTHERLY LOVE,
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
looking at the Lodge Trestleboard and urging
more open programming, prevailing on
the Master to close the Lodge by 9:00 p.m.
investigating the feasibility of providing
co-op baby-sitters at the Lodge during meetings.
writing a procedure for Investigating Teams
to make this first impression of the Craft
favorable for the wife, candidate and family.
producing a letter from the Master describing
Masonry and the family's role, to be
sent to the wife of every petitioner.
implementing severaI purely social outings
which contained NO Maasonic SPEECHES
so that the whole family could have fun!
The Masonic Education Action Team. This
making sure that every petitioner had a
Shepherd or Mentor for at least one year
following the degrees.
Using the trestleboard of the Lodge, in part.
to expose new members and the Lodge as a
whole, to all current educational material.
seeing that a Lodge Library was started to
make available Masonic publications and
actively encouraging brothers to visit other
Lodges both within the area and without.
urging each sponsor of a new member to
purchase "The Craft and Its Symbols"' by
Allen E. Roberts and give it as a gift to the
urging the Lodge to buy a years subscription
to the Masonic Service Association
"Short Talk Bulletin" for each new member.
The Masters Wages Action Team. This TEAM
making sure that each member was contacted
as regularly as possible.
creating a phone list of all locaI brethren and
calling them before each meeting, offering
rides if needed.
producing a data base to include all relevant
personal information , creating contact sheets
on each brother to keep a record of the
Lodges commnunication efforts and their
response to them.
creating a public "Awards Night" to include
certificates for 10 years of service and up, as
well as "Mason of the Year", "Most Im
proved Ritualist"', "Best Lodge Function
Attendance, '*Membership'" and other motivational
sending out Masonic Birthday Cards to all
members once a year asking for some news
and acknowledging their membership.
coordinating visitations to sick and shut in
asking the Lodge to sponsor a widows program.
asking the Lodge to sponsor a holiday party
and summer picnic for the kids.
Insuring that every member in danger of
suspension for non-payment of dues or who
requested a demit be personally contacted
by the Lodge, preferably by someone whom
the Brother knew, to find out if there was
anything the Lodge could do to assist and to
forestall negative action.
The Executive Program Action Team. This
creating a Long Range PIan for the Lodge.
working with every line officer from top to
bottom on program planning, ritual, protocol
working with officers on how to run a meeting
developing and publishing a handbook of
job descriptions for each Station and Place
in the Lodge, with a clear outline of duties
* recruiting new blood into the line and making
recommendations to the Master as to
" insuring that each officer was a graduate of
a leadership course, (if one is available) or
had attended a ceruin number of seminars
about Masonic Leadership or had a working
knowledge of certain books pertaining to
The Community Involvement Team
This TEAM recommended:
reaching out to the local community and
flnding ways to be of service.
making sure that the Lodge was actively
involved in charitable work.
attempting to create relationships with the
local news media in order to get the Lodges
actions publicized in the community.
creating ways of using the Lodge as a cen
tral community hub, such as letting boy/girl
scout troops, AA meetings and other com
munity groups use the facility.
The Feedback, Fun and Continuity Action
Team. This TEAM recommended:
" continual evaluation of whether the Lodge
was having enough fun, as defined by participation,
attendance and feedback by the brethren.
" continuous assessment of whether the needs
of the Brethren were being met.
= Continous input of creative new wayw to
interact with one another.
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