Member Retention: Keeping Them Coming Instead Of Going
by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°
So lets say I own a business that sells office supplies, and I begin losing customers. I would immediately realize there's a problem. Something changed and I need to figure out what that is. If I'm a smart business owner, I'm not going to spend a bunch of money in advertising to try to attract new customers until I figure out why I can't hang onto my old customers . . . right? It's probably one of two things--I'm doing something wrong, or somebody else is doing something better than I am.
So why do Masonic Lodges have such a difficult time understanding that?
I was at a meeting a couple weeks ago, and there was a discussion about membership retention. Some of the comments went as follows: Our old members aren't active. We get new members, and they come for a few meetings and then we never see them again. The Shrine and the Scottish Rite are poaching our members.
I didn't say it, but it's obvious what the problem is. It's the Lodge! If your old members aren't coming, it's because they aren't getting anything out of it--or at least enough to keep them coming back. Same with your new members. And if appendant bodies are able to get your members involved in their organization, it's because they are getting something there they aren't getting from the Lodge.
And how do lodges typically counter this problem with retention. In my opinion--in the wrong way. They work to recruit MORE MEMBERS without ever considering why they can't keep the members they already have--and the cycle repeats.
If you want your Lodge to thrive, there's no reason to add one single new member until you figure out why you can't keep the ones you have. Doesn't that make sense? Take a break. Talk about it. Talk to a few of those guys that aren't coming anymore. Look at your meetings--are they boring? Do your active members look forward to the meetings or do they suffer through them? Do you have education at your meetings or invite speakers to come and talk? Do you have social events at your Lodge?
There are all kinds of things you can do to identify the problem your Lodge is having once you recognize the fact that maybe it's not your members, or those pesky appendant bodies--it might just be your Lodge. I think if you take the time to look into the issue, you're going to find that the problem isn't identifying the problems, it's in finding amongst your membership a willingness to change.
Talk about it. Come up with a plan. Start small. Try a few things. See what works, and what doesn't work. And share those successes with other Lodges--as often as this topic comes up, you're not alone.
Todd E. Creason, is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as the Secretary, and is also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199 where he serves as Senior Warden. He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research. He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. He was named the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org