More Prospects on the Way!
The results are in, and for the second year running, it’s shaping up to be a busy degree season.
This fall, the second-ever social media membership awareness campaign wrapped up, a 10-week effort to get the word out about Freemasonry and answer the most common questions that prospects have about the fraternity. As a result, more than 1,300 new prospects are now in the system, getting matched with lodges and—soon enough—beginning their journey through the degrees of Masonry. In fact, so far in 2023, the fraternity has received its greatest number of applications since 2016.
What that means for local lodges is hopefully a shot of new energy and excitement, but also a bit of work in welcoming new would-be members into the lodge, making them feel comfortable, and guiding them what can be a fairly lengthy membership process. Says Jordan Yelinek, assistant grand secretary, “We’re going to see a significant influx in prospects—and lodges need to be prepared for it.” Ensuring that lodges are set up to take advantage of this flurry of prospecting activity is crucial to the future of our fraternity.
It goes without saying, but new members are the key to ensuring the long-term viability of our lodges. Statewide, membership is still recovering from the pandemic, during which nearly 10 percent of all members either moved away, let their membership lapse, or otherwise left the fraternity. Restoring those members is one of the top challenges we face.
At the same time, we have an amazing opportunity to welcome new members into the fold. Since our first-ever online awareness campaign last summer, the Grand Lodge has received more than 5,000 inquiries from qualified prospects and forwarded an average of 10 prospects to each lodge. Overall, more than half of all lodges have made contact with at least one of these prospects. (Although there’s a flip side to that: Nearly 45 percent have not, leaving 2,400 prospects uncontacted.)
The reality is that some lodges are better equipped and prepared to handle these incoming prospects than others. And when an eager prospect is met with a disorganized lodge or, worse, with silence, we lose not only a would-be brother, but we also send them away with a negative view of our fraternity.
In order to bring more consistency to the onboarding process for new members, the Grand Lodge this year introduced a new lodge role, of Lodge Prospect Manager, who is appointed by the lodge’s prospect committee chair. Already, nearly 100 lodges have assigned a member to this important position. The lodge prospect manager is responsible for:
- Managing all “inquiries” on the lodge admin dashboard on iMember.
- Reaching out to prospects with a warm introduction and welcome message.
- Maintaining frequent communication with prospects.
- Providing monthly prospect reports to the lodge executive committee.
- Leading efforts to convert inquiries to applicants.
- And, if prospects remain unresponsive, removing them from the lodge admin dashboard.
Over the summer, members of the Grand Lodge membership team held the first online training sessions to acquaint new lodge prospect managers with the demands of the role and equip them with useful information and tips for handling prospects on iMember and making contact with them. You can review a PowerPoint presentation from that meeting below:
The next online training session will be held Jan. 30, 2024 at 6 p.m. Says Grand Secretary Allan Casalou, “By embracing this vital role, we can collectively harness the existing interest in Freemasonry, welcoming new members with open arms and ensuring the continued growth and vitality of our beloved institution.”
As mentioned above, nearly 45 percent of lodges have not made contact with any of the online prospects who have been directed to their lodge. Here, Michael Roberts, Grand Lodge manager of membership and lodge development, shares a few tips for reaching out:
- Acknowledge the prospects in a timely manner: Online inquiries of all kinds tend to have a short shelf life. If a customer (or in this case a prospect) doesn’t hear back within 24 or 48 hours, they may well lose interest.
- Welcome message and personal invitation to meet: Masonry is, at its heart, all about in-person contact. The best way for a prospect to get to know the lodge is to attend an event or meet members in the flesh. So invite them to an upcoming event—and if your lodge isn’t planning any prospect events, consider doing that!
- Always follow up: After you speak with a prospect, follow up with a link to the lodge webpage, Facebook page, or other information you might have mentioned online.
- Don’t rely on one channel: It’s easy to miss an email or ignore a call from a number you don’t recognize. That doesn’t mean a prospect isn’t interested; only that you haven’t connected yet. Be sure not to rely on only one form of communication. Call, text, email, even send an invite via snail-mail!
If prospects are non-responsive, be sure to reach out at least twice more, with a week in between those efforts. If after that they still haven’t responded, you can list them as inactive in iMember and move on. Here’s a sample letter Roberts uses to send to inactive prospects:
Hi [NAME HERE],
The brethren of [LODGE NAME HERE] were sorry that you were not able to attend our Prospect Information Night last week and hope all is well with you.
Having attempted to contact you by phone and several emails inviting you to our lodge events, we feel like now may not be the best time for you to pursue your interest in Freemasonry, but we will be here when you are ready. If you are still interested in becoming a brother, please let me know. For the time being, we are now going to remove you from future direct communications from our lodge.
Thank you for your interest in Freemasonry, we hope to hear from you again soon.
Michael Roberts, PM
Acalanes Fellowship Lodge No. 480
Masonic Health Services:
Stay up to date with lodge business. Here’s your November checklist:
- Along with the lodge, elect officers.
- Meet with the inspector to review your plan for the year.
- Budget for, and prepare to attend, 2024 leadership retreats.
- Consider adding members to the Membership Restoration Campaign.
Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee
- Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
- Urge the presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to qualify early with the inspector in their office’s ritual.
- Urge respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early.
- Identify and approach members for the 2024 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
- Set 2024 lodge calendar and identify event leaders.
- Continue preparing 2024 budget.
- Finalize your installation date/venue and prepare the installing team.
- Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.
- Attend the final Secretary’s Association meeting of the year Tuesday, Nov. 14. Register here.
- Transmit certificates of election in iMember. Remember, you do not need to mail these physically into the Grand Lodge. They can be given as a souvenir to the installed officer.
- Verify your lodge dues and per capita in iMember and, if you haven’t yet, enroll your lodge in the Dues Invoicing Service. Lodges enrolled in this program saw more members pay their dues compared to lodges that did not participate. All lodges that participated last year will be enrolled again this year. Lodge enrolled in the program will be emailed about dues beginning in November. To opt into (or out of) the program, contact Member Services.
Questions? Contact Member Services at email@example.com or (415) 776-7000.
Last month, we asked whether your lodge was planning to opt into the 2023–24 Membership Restoration campaign. Of those who replied:
- Yes - 57%
- No - 43%