To say that membership is on the minds of our Masonic leadership at all levels of the fraternity would be an understatement. Most of the discussion over the past years has dedicated itself to lack of interest expressed by young American men in joining fraternal organizations of any type. (Membership is not exclusively a Masonic problem.) Recently I have observed a shift in the discussion moving from our membership problem being a recruitment issue to a retention issue. I would agree more that we have a retention issue than anything else. This idea however would be better discussed at another time, but it should be mentioned that Bro:. John Ruark of the Masonic Roundtable has begun working on a survey dedicated to shedding more light on our nationwide retention woes. The following, is an “outside the box” approach to advertising Freemasonry to vast group of potential members whom we already have close ties with; the collegiate fraternities.
The first step is to identify members of the Craft who have Greek letter affiliations. This could be done via a Grand Lodge survey, or via a committee at the individual lodge level. Once those members are identified, the secretary should create a log these affiliations and they should make an effort to reach out to the closest chapter of their college fraternity. Dependent on Grand Lodge legislation, these members could even extend the use of the lodge room for initiation ceremonies once a semester. (The building would be opened by Masonic alumni who then sits in during the initiation of which ever fraternity is using the lodge.
Of course this only works if you have Master Masons who are members of the local fraternities, but odds are you do.) The Worshipful Master could host a dinner for the chapter presidents all the local fraternities or invite the chapter officers to attend open meetings and events. The activity matters not, the point is to develop a relationship with a seemingly unending reservoir of potential members whom are already familiar with the workings of the Masonic Lodge. Obviously lodges which are situated near a college will experience the most benefit from this idea, but lodges in large metropolitan areas could benefit also as many fraternities have alumni chapters in big cities.
This proposal is just one of many fresh approaches to issues which have lingered within lodges for decades. I am firmly convinced that if lodges were to identify their members who were initiates of college fraternities that we could develop a positive and lasting relationship with a seemingly unending source of quality new members. All it takes is a little initiative to identify the members of your lodge who were Greek and put them to work. I’m certain that they will readily and happily accept the charge.