Is it necessary to spend this much time? Certainly not. But, if one wishes to do all the things our lodges want us to do and do them in a timely manner, then we tend to spend the time to get it done. Compile this with the programs, emails and forms we put together for our Grand Lodges, I'm sure you get the picture.
In Illinois we use MORI, an electronic membership system. It's great. It cuts down much of the book keeping, but it's only as good as the data that's put into it. It tracks membership, dues payments, arrears, suspensions etc. It can export a fair amount of data which can help us in our search for answers, specifically the answer to the membership question. This assumes however, we know what questions to ask and how to read the data. Fluent Excel knowledge is also helpful, something to keep in mind for a prospective Secretary. I digress, back to the point.
So, you've been primed. What is the Secretary's problem? Aside from all that above, in my case the Secretary's problem is communications. And if you look across the board in the entire state of Illinois, it's the same. In this day and age we have so many ways to reach out; Telephone, e-mail, snail mail and social media (Facebook groups, pages etc).
With all those ways to contact members, you might ask, "So what's the problem?" And the problem is this brothers, out of sixty thousand members in the state of Illinois, we only have a small fraction of e-mail addresses. We have a slightly larger number of phone numbers. You want real numbers? Well, look no more. As the DDGM for the 1st NE district of the state of Illinois, I will share with you the numbers and rest assured they are similar across the state.
Number of Masons in the district - 1077
Number of missing phone numbers - 342
Number of missing e-mail addresses - 577
Unique number of members who have no email AND no phone number? A staggering 285 members!
So, you can see with these numbers, that there is a huge problem. There are 285 guys we cannot contact unless we send a physical letter, and that's just here in the 1st NE district. Most lodges only send out a piece of snail mail when required to do so e.g. Dues notices, dues cards and bylaw changes. Many times a year we as secretaries receive returned mail as well. So we have a problem with invalid addresses. I am not interested in placing blame, rather I am dedicated to fixing this issue. Luckily we have a district team looking to do everything possible to update our modes of contact for each and every member.
While this may be the Secretary's problem, largely, its the lodges problem. These two items are intimately connected with membership retention and maintaining the health of the lodge. Do what you can to make sure your home lodge has you current contact info. If you're a Secretary, keep on TCB'n.