“Our dues are too high! We’re losing members because they can’t afford to pay!”
I was recently sitting in a meeting where the topic of dues was touched upon and something similar to the above was said. I will be honest, like many Lodges mine has seen a decline in membership and the cause cited right out of the gate was because the dues were too high. There is also a concern about members that are on fixed incomes, how will they be able to afford the dues, we might lose them too.
As the discussion continued it appeared that maybe the issue hadn’t been looked at in its entirety, maybe there were other reasons why we were losing members.
Things such as Brothers passing away, Brothers leaving the area and demitting from our Lodge to join another, or even Brothers who’ve decided that Freemasonry isn’t just for them – perish the thought!
There was a really interesting piece a few weeks back written by Bro. Brian Schimian over at Midnight Freemasons titled, Why haven’t they come back? The article, which is well worth the read, goes on to talk about the need for Lodges to do more than just make Freemasons. There needs to be something there for a Brother to come back for.
If there’s something of value for them, guess what, they’ll pay their dues.
Have you reached out to the membership as a whole to find out what they want? Bro. Schimian I think was correct in laying at least half the blame at the feet of the Lodge, in particular those that attend regularly. Sure you might find it interesting to talk about the bills or review the upcoming plans for the next breakfast, but want about the Brother sitting next you trying to stay awake? Or better yet, the one that decided that sitting at home in front of the TV with a frozen dinner was more interesting?
You also need to look beyond your own interests and desires. I’ve sat with many a Brother who enjoys cooking for a breakfast, or working at collecting clothes and canned goods, or doing fund raisers, and the Fraternity needs these Brothers. While I personally support those efforts where I can I would much rather sit with a few of my Brothers and discuss the latest book I’ve read on Freemasonry, or the ritual and its meaning, or the symbology of our Fraternity – different strokes for different folks.
So please, before you go running off cutting dues to try and save your membership, ask yourself, are we doing enough to add value to your Lodge?