A couple of weeks ago there was a post at MidnightFreemasons.org (a site that well worth the read) entitled “How to solve the Membership Problem.” The post contained results from a recent survey concerning the fraternity but, and in my opinion more important, was a link to the Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge Morning Session which they had recorded and placed on YouTube.
While I haven’t had an opportunity to watch the whole session the first presentation focused on the membership, in particular statistics over the last several years. There’s a nice dissection of the numbers and some projections that I’m sure will make most of us shake our heads if not cry out in frustration. The numbers clearly show what a number of us have thought for some time, the issue is in retention, not acquisition.
We’re always hearing that we need to bring more members in and most efforts put forth are focused on that area. We look for ways to ‘advertise’ the fraternity and put our name out in the community to generate interest and hopefully gain a few members. Where is the effort to retain members? Why don’t we address the issues inside our temple?
I decided to expand on what I already thought and dug into my own Lodge’s statistics and found that they mirrored what was presented in Pennsylvania. On one hand I found that interesting that the data plots followed the same curves, and on the other I’m scared for my Lodge.
While I’m still working on an appropriate way to present this to my Lodge I was given the opportunity to provide a bit of the research to the leadership of my Lodge at a committee meeting the other night. What concerned me was the apparent dismissal of what the numbers are clearly showing. Yes, they agreed that we have a decline going on but then focused on the historical data on new initiates. Which is the one area that both my minor research and that of the larger research project shows that we don’t seem to have an issue with.
Brethren, this is an example of turning a blind eye to the issue. Let’s take a step back and look at what we can do to help pull our members back into the Lodge room. Work on education, help new Brothers finish their degrees, or maybe you could put in a mentor program (or jumpstart the one you already have). Of course, the biggest thing you can do is ask your members, your Brothers, why they’re not coming and address those concerns.
It’s time we start looking at the real challenge before us and stop worrying about just increasing our membership rolls.