36 ways to improve Lodge attendance

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Blake Bowden, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    Grand Lodge AF&AM of North Carolina

    The key to good attendance is simple: You
    must give your members a reason to WANT to
    come to your lodge.

    Boring meetings is the single greatest reason 85% of the Masons don’t
    attend lodge regularly. Look around the lodge tonight. How many members
    are present? How many total members are in the lodge? If those present
    represent 40% - 45% - 50% or more of your membership
    CONGRATULATIONS! Your lodge is doing something right! If not, a little
    work may be in order.

    The following pages list items that may help bring a few members back to
    the lodge, but none of them will work if it’s kept a secret. You’ve got to let
    your members know what you’re doing. And, don’t be shy ... let them know
    why you’re doing it. Put what you’re doing in your newsletter. If you don’t
    have a newsletter you’ve just discovered your First Way to Improve
    Attendance in Your Lodge.

    You can’t operate in a vacuum. Your members WANT to know what is
    going on in the lodge. If you don’t have a REGULAR newsletter the only
    time many members will hear from you is when you want money either for
    dues or for your annual campaign. Oooh ... that’s not very welcoming.
    A phone committee can work wonders, but only if it’s done regularly!

    1. Make information about new members available to everyone
    who regularly attends lodge. Include his occupation, hobbies,
    interests, and reasons for joining. Record this information in
    a file and make it accessible to members of the lodge so when
    he visits they will have something to talk about.

    2. Assign someone to greet each member as he enters the lodge.
    Make certain that he understands that it is his job to make
    each person feel welcome. He also introduces new members
    to the others in the lodge. Tonight is a great night to assign
    someone as a greeter at the next session.

    3. The Worshipful Master and officers should be the
    welcoming committee and be sure to shake hands with
    each member to the lodge. If you don’t know a new members
    name now is a good time to learn it.

    Every member must feel that your lodge is his
    lodge. He must feel welcome and important. Like
    the song says, he wants to go where everybody
    knows his name. These things aren’t only
    important. They are vital to a well-attended lodge.

    People are more than just a name. It is important
    that we learn something about what makes our
    brothers tick before we can actually know him.
    Use Masonic Education time to educate
    yourself about your brothers. Is everyone in the
    lodge tonight married? Do you for how long?
    Do you know his wife’s name? What does he do
    for a living?

    4. Make introductions during lodge warm and personal. Every
    man likes to hear his name and every man wants to think people
    care about him and what he does. This is the first key to new

    5. Include the names of new members in the newsletter. You
    might also consider a Bio of an occasional older member.
    Include something about him, his interests, his family and
    other information.

    6. Insist that those who regularly attend lodge share ideas of
    things they would like to do, programs they would like to
    see, and items they would like to include. Tonight is a good
    night to begin asking about those things. Do it and don’t take
    I can’t think of anything for an answer.

    You cannot build attendance by boring people.
    A member only leaves the warmth and comfort
    of his home to come to lodge if that meeting
    promises to be interesting and enjoyable. Just
    opening, doing a little business and closing will
    not bring people to your lodge. It’s a sure way to
    keep them away.

    7. Begin meetings on time and increase the overall pace. There
    is no reason that the questions asked by the Worshipful Master
    to the Junior and Senior Warden should be dragged out. If
    someone doesn’t know their part it’s past time to learn it. A
    crisp well-done opening and closing take less time and tends
    to be very impressive.

    8. The Secretary has much to do with the pace of the meeting.
    If there are no petitions the Worshipful Master should be
    informed before the meeting and shouldn’t ask if there are
    any to be read. If there is to be no voting, it shouldn’t be
    asked. The same with reports. If there will be no report on
    the Orphanage or on the Home the Master should know these
    things before the meeting and not ask for them.

    9. People do like to know what is going on in their fraternity.
    Regular reports on Oxford Orphanage and the Masonic &
    Eastern Star Home let the members know how their money
    is being spent. Insist that the chairmen of these committees
    keep you informed.

    Every lodge meeting should be an Event. In
    the ideal lodge a member looks forward to the
    next meeting because he knows it will be
    something to enjoy and he will gain from going.

    10. There is absolutely no substitution for planning. A good
    leader and good officer cares more about his lodge than to be
    satisfied with an informal gathering just before the meeting.
    He has planned a good meeting. Possibly he has invited a
    speaker or at least prepared a program and a presenter. To
    him, each night is special and he knows attendance only comes
    from offering your members a good product.

    11. Older members and younger members have different
    expectations. Programs should satisfy both. While a program
    about retirement planning may be more enjoyable to the older
    member, the younger member will benefit also. Likewise, a
    program about vacation planning may not be as interesting to
    the older member, but older members take vacations too.

    12. Whatever kind of program you present, make it the best it
    can possibly be. Absolutely nothing works better than quality
    programs to increase attendance. Every man likes to think
    the time he has invested in going to the lodge is worthwhile.

    Planning cannot be overemphasized. Planning
    is vital to the successful lodge. A well-planned
    meeting forces everyone to consider the needs of
    all of the members. And, considering those needs
    will be shown by improved interest and

    13. Planning for a Perfect Evening? suggests every lodge make
    something special happen at stated communications at least
    six times each year. These meetings should be planned at least
    six months in advance so you can have your choice of speakers
    or guests

    14. Your lodge and your community is a goldmine of interesting
    speakers. People love to talk about what they do for a living
    and this can be a source of excellent speakers. But, don’t
    surprise them. Give them time to prepare a presentation. If
    the person doesn’t like public speaking have someone else in
    the lodge work with them to prepare something. A ten or
    fifteen minute presentation is plenty.

    15. Don’t forget about your District Deputy Grand Master the
    Grand Lodge officers. Most can give you an interesting
    presentation and would enjoy visiting with the people in your

    Getting the word out has much to do with
    attendance. Out of sight, out of mind? is an old
    cliché with meaning. We are supposed to be an
    organization of closely knit brothers. Getting a
    bit closer knit can do wonders for your
    16. Almost every lodge is there at the death of a brother, but
    are they there when the brother gets sick or loses a relative.
    These can be very trying times for a brother and a card or a
    phone call can mean a world of difference. But, to make this
    effective it can’t depend on chance. Assign someone to
    regularly check the sick list at the hospital and read ALL the
    obituaries noticing especially the living relatives.

    17. Have you ever seen a large picture of an ostrich egg or
    something in the paper that made you ask why it was there? I
    was there to fill space because there was no news or advertising
    to fill the space. Take advantage of this opportunity. Whenever
    you have a special event either invite the newspaper or send
    in a picture. Let the paper decide whether to use it or not.

    18. Compete with another lodge for the best percentage growth
    in attendance. Make the contest fun, let the losing lodge serve
    a meal to the winner or put on a special degree.

    One of the most effective tools in building lodge
    attendance is a good phone committee. Not only
    is it a good way to insure the new Mason is made
    to feel a part of the fraternity, it is also an excellent
    method of revitalizing the older Mason.
    A good phone committee can accomplish several

    19. Calling every new Mason who has been raised within the
    past few years reminds that Mason that his lodge and his
    brothers are interested in him. If he hasn’t attended in a while
    this is a good time to find out why. If there is a problem now
    is an ideal time to handle it.

    20. Don’t be shy. Tell them you are calling and will be calling
    with the intent to increase interest in the lodge. If you are
    sincere most brothers will tell you why the have quit attending
    and will want to see that you are successful in your efforts.
    Some may offer to help and call a few of their friends. In any
    event, you will have contacted a brother.

    21. Take the time to look through the minutes and see when
    was the last time the member attended lodge. Time slips by
    quickly for all of us. It’s not unusual for a brother to think its
    only been a few months and its really been several years since
    he attended.

    The time you spend on the phone with a brother
    can totally revitalize you and the brother. He
    appreciates the fact you care enough to call and
    now is a wonderful time to find out more about

    22. Ask questions during your conversation to find out what
    has happened to his interest in Masonry. Ask open ended
    questions like If there were one thing we could do to get
    you back interested in the lodge what would it be?? Most of
    the time there will be no complaints except that the meetings
    are boring or something to that effect. Assure him you are
    working on making the meetings something he will find

    23. If there has been illness or a problem in the family you and
    your brothers need to know. It is not unusual for a brother to
    leave Masonry simply because his brothers ignored him during
    a sickness or a hospital stay and they knew nothing about it!
    But, is there an excuse for not knowing your brother is in the

    24. Above all, don’t sound like a telemarketer when you call.
    You are a brother who is concerned about your brother. If
    you are in a hurry make your calls another time. When you
    are finished make a notecard about the call with information
    you can use later or on the next call.

    Serving a good meal can play a part in
    increasing attendance, but it is far from the only
    part. Just as the lodge meeting itself should be an
    event, so should the meal. Do something special
    at every meal. Then follow it up with a special

    25. Don’t scrimp on the meal. Although people will always
    complain about the price of a meal, most would rather pay a
    dollar or so more for a good one. Would you pay a dollar
    more for a nice cut of beef instead of a hamburger? People
    do it every day. The quality of the meal should come first

    26. Most of our members are more health conscious in their
    eating today. Heavy gravies, fat beef and lots of mashed
    potatoes are not as healthy as chicken and fish. Fresh
    vegetables are lower in sodium than canned ones. Some
    members have to watch what they eat and will avoid meals
    with items they aren’t supposed to eat.

    27. Ask some of the younger members to suggest some meals.
    They may even want to help prepare them. This is a good
    way to get a brother involved in the activities of the lodge.
    Try new foods. Every meal doesn’t need to be the same.

    Occasionally it is fun to leave the lodge and
    schedule a meal for the lodge at a local restaurant.
    This can be one of your special evenings. It
    can be done on a meeting night or any night that’s

    28. Occasionally invite the wives in for the meal. This can be
    another one of your special nights. It needn’t be formal,
    just pay a little attention to the details. You can also give a
    program for the ladies while the men retire to the lodge

    29. A lodge picnic can be a fun outing. Invite the wives, the
    kids, and even the neighbors. The family spirit is good for the
    lodge and allows the brothers to learn more about each other.
    Plan activities during the picnic that encourages people to
    work and play together. The rewards are numerous.

    30. Lodge field trips inspire the members. Why not make a
    trip to the Orphanage or to the Masonic & Eastern Star
    Home.? Join together on a Saturday and visit points of interest
    throughout the state. The locations don’t necessarily have to
    be Masonic, but it does add something extra.

    An occasional Planning Meeting can inspire
    members everyone in the lodge it it’s done right.
    Be sure to make a special effort to involve those
    who are not normally a part of the planning
    process. Even if they don’t say anything they will
    feel a part of their lodge. This can go a long way.

    31. Everyone has skills. Everyone has talents. Everyone has
    interests. Try to find out the skills, talents and interests of the
    members. Make them feel like their involvement is expected.
    Create a list of these items and use it in your planning. The
    more you can direct your lodge programs toward member
    interests, the more attendance you will have.

    32. Be sure to listen to the members, don’t just act like you are
    listening. Follow some of the suggestions. They may just work.
    If they don’t, what have you lost? Remember, the lodge
    belongs to ALL the members and there is no such thing as an
    unimportant member.

    33. When you develop your plan... follow it! Don’t put it off.
    DO IT! Lodges suffer from indecision and inactivity They
    thrive on planning and activity, but even the best plan is no
    good until it is implemented.

    Why is evaluating your lodge? in the last place
    in this book? Simply because some Masons who
    have heard the first thirty-three suggestions are
    saying that it won’t work in their lodge or we
    have never done it before. If any two statements
    ever appear on the gravestone of Masonry it will
    be It won’t Work and We’ve Never Done It

    34. Two or three people offer to help the Secretary review the
    minutes for the last ten years and make a list of who attended
    the lodge and when. From these lists isolate the members
    who haven’t attended in the past 10 years, 5 years, and 1
    year. You will be surprised. And, it may jump-start your

    35. Do you seriously have regular programs in your lodge or is
    it just hit or miss? Is there something scheduled for your first
    meeting night in September? What about next meeting night?
    What was planned for tonight other than opening, reading the
    minutes, this program and closing? Do you believe it’s really
    enough to keep all your members interested?

    36. Answer this question honestly. Are you doing everything
    you can do to make your lodge the best it can be?

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