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