When it comes to retaining members, results from the latest Membership Focus Group survey point to a need for the recruitment process to better communicate what Freemasonry is really about
More than 8,000 members are now signed up to assist the Membership Focus Group (MFG) by completing its surveys, the latest of which looks at the challenges faced in retaining members. Gathering detailed input from 30 Provinces and one District, the survey concludes that there is a strong link between the way in which someone comes into Freemasonry and the enjoyment they get from it. Retention is considerably improved when the initial recruitment process is of a high standard. Conversely, if a lodge rushes the introduction process, the consequences can be disastrous.
Going forward, the MFG recommends developing candidate interview procedures that ensure transparency about what Freemasonry is, its vision, mission and beliefs. Candidates should also be provided with an overview of all the costs involved, ensuring that they are aware of the need to support lodge social and charity activities. In addition, the lodge should only select members who maintain and raise quality standards.
The value of support
It was not surprising to learn that the single most important influencer in retaining new members and meeting their expectations is the quality of mentoring in lodges. The support of the Provincial or Metropolitan mentor and the provision of training for both lodge and personal mentors were found to be vital. An initiate’s guide was also seen as an essential resource for new members.
Members need to feel welcome, with their personal and business time pressures understood. Lodge mentors and almoners also need to be proactive in noting attendance, following up on why members are not attending and looking out for early warning signs of a potential resignation.
Whether it’s attracting new recruits or mentoring and retaining them, membership is not a numbers game. An increase in the organisation’s membership will only be achieved by improving members’ overall experience of Freemasonry – helping them to embrace the way in which it adds value to their lives.
When a candidate is presented for initiation the ceremony includes the words: ‘…a poor candidate in a state of darkness who has been well and worthily recommended, regularly proposed and approved in open lodge and now comes, of his own free will and accord, properly prepared’. The question that has to be satisfied is to what extent is he properly prepared?
Retention – Key findings
· The support and involvement of a spouse/partner is crucial for all new prospective candidates
· The questions asked at the interview, and the manner in which it is conducted, are of vital importance and should conform to a standard
· There is a need to be open and honest about full membership costs at the interview stage
· A personal mentor has an essential role to play and should be actively involved from the period leading up to the candidate’s initiation
The next MFG survey to be published in Freemasonry Today will look at how the United Grand Lodge of England attracts new members and their experiences in joining the organisation. By including more comments boxes in the survey it is hoped that members will have a greater opportunity to have their say on what worked for them, as well as what didn’t.
If you wish to have your say and are willing to help, then please register at www.ugle.org.uk/mfg
24 April 2013
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
I congratulate all those of you that I have had the pleasure to invest today. This is, I hope, a memorable occasion and an important milestone in your Masonic life. I trust that you will carry your Grand Rank with humility and continue to support your fellow members to the best of your ability.
I have consistently stressed both the importance of recruiting high quality candidates and then ensuring that they understand what masonry stands for and how enjoyable it can be. If we are successful in this we stand every chance of retaining them. Clearly good mentoring plays a key part in retention and here I see all Grand Officers playing a significant role. Some will act as Lodge mentors or personal mentors, but all of us should assist in this task particularly for our newer members so that they enjoy their Freemasonry and want to stay.
These are exciting times for all of us to be Freemasons and we can be justly proud of our membership. However, as with any other large organisation, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure the long term future for the generations to come. To do so we have both a pro-active and collaborative approach. By pro-active, I mean looking at initiatives that we need to be putting into place now to retain our members. Above all we must clearly demonstrate to the non-Mason that we are a relevant and outward facing organisation in today’s society. And by collaborative, I mean that we work closely with Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges to mutually agree plans for the future. As Grand Officers several of you are already part of your executive teams. But whatever your role within the hierarchy, or the responsibilities you hold or will hold, please remember you are all members of the English Constitution with a common cause working together to ensure the future.
Today is a day of celebration for those I have invested and for the friends you have invited to witness this special ceremony. It is good to see you all and I wish you every success and happiness as you continue to enjoy your Freemasonry.
Finally Brethren, I constantly receive comments about the outstanding quality of our organisation and ceremonial at Grand Lodge. This applies to the Quarterly Communications as well as today, but today is, of course the real showpiece. I can assure you that a great deal of work goes into ensuring the success of these great occasions and on your behalf I thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the highly efficient conduct of the ceremony and the Grand Secretary and all his staff for all the weeks of planning and preparation that have been devoted to this Annual Investiture.