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Bootlebuck1

Membership Pathway

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Hi Brethren, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Brethren and Companions a very merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy and safe new year.

On Monday just, our lodge voted via zoom to buy into the new Membership and Development pathway scheme.

We have to develop a lodge profile, and try and adopt some form of theme....and submit to the group by mid January. I have expressed an interest in the newly established office of Lodge membership officer. Having sat through 3 west lancs webonair meetings on the subject, it’s clear that if masonry doesn’t do something about recruitment, retention and retrieval......we are in danger of losing many brethren, once again compliments of the season to all, and I’d be interested to know how your lodges plan to tackle this issue 

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I understand my own Province of Hampshire was one of guinea pigs for the Membership Officer role - we've had one for three years now.

But I'm puzzled why a new (non-designated office) role was created, as opposed to repurposing the role of Assistant Secretary - which seems to be little more than a euphemism for Dining Steward in many lodges?!  This later role could (should?) be a "Senior" Steward (ie not a precursor to the ladder, but a PM slot)

  • Assistant Secretary (Membership Officer)
  • Senior Seward (Dining Steward)

 

But best wishes to you all... and may 2021 be more friendly.

Edited by Not quite so Uninitiated

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Not entirely sure what you mean by '... new (non-designated office) role ...' Andrew, but if you take a look at the agenda for the Dec QC (not sure if it actually happened), you'll see that there are/will be 2 new Grand/Provincial/Lodge appointments seniority as follows ..

...
Charity Steward
Membership Officer
Communications Officer (Grand/Province/District only)
Senior Deacon
...

And Rule 104(a) "Officers of a Lodge" to be amended to identify Membership Officer as an 'additional officers' with jewel tbc

... or is that what you mean?

In my lodge (and a fair few others in Cambs), we make use of our Assistant Secretary (I'm the secretary). He takes care of circulating all the GL and PGL stuff that comes in via email. He prepares draft minutes for lodge meetings for me, he prints and sends summons/minutes to those members who are not on email, leaving me to deal with lodge specific stuff .. annual and installation returns, compiling summonses, scheduling stuff and so on. In my first stint as secretary back in the mid-90s pre-email, I printed everything out, and my assistant (and his wife) stuffed all the envelopes and posted them for me - saving me hours of work. So my question is: are you sure that your ASec doesn't do anything? or does he do a lot more than you realise? - it's often a working arrangement agreed between the secretary and the assistant, and many members (and WMs!) don't actually realise how much the ASec actually does and thinks it's a 'nothing' job.

Edited by Sontaran
supurflous word

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9 hours ago, Sontaran said:

Not entirely sure what you mean by '... new (non-designated office) role ...' Andrew, but if you take a look at the agenda for the Dec QC (not sure if it actually happened), you'll see that there are/will be 2 new Grand/Provincial/Lodge appointments seniority as follows ..

...

snip

Not seen that... but (as I've mentioned) in Hampshire we've had an "additional" Lodge Office (and Area and Provincial) Membership Officer for the past three years

Likewise, we've had Area and Provincial Communications Officers for a bit longer, too

I guess, this just makes it Official... and another pair of "active" Dark Blue appointments, rather than filled by Past Officers... which is actually probably a positive, as these Officers do an important job.

 

PS: I'm not intending to belittle the work of the Assistant Secretary - in my Lodge, we've been fortunate that the ASec has been the Outgoing Sec or Planned Next Sec and has genuinely been as assistant... and in this (my first year as WM) both have been invaluable support!

 

Edited by Not quite so Uninitiated

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You might want to ask your secretary for a copy(!) - he's actually supposed to pass a copy to all qualified members as you (as WM), and all the PMs and Wardens for the year are a) entitled to go, and b) as an Installed Master you've actually a MEMBER of Grand Lodge. He, as secretary, gets notified when it's posted and instructed to pass a copy on.

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Practically all the Hants & IoW lodges (and further afield) with which I'm connected one way or another refused to acknowledge the existence of 'membership officer' and some are only now possibly (not even 'probably'!) considering appointing such an additional officer.  I have to admit to agreeing with them that absent an appropriate amendment to rule 104(a), which there now is, it was not permissible under that rule to make any such appointment and that consequently any instruction from a province requiring a lodge to make such an appointment was both ultra vires and in direct contravention of rule 155.

Even now, as an 'additional' office the appointment is voluntary and within the remit of said rule 155.

As far as 'recruitment, retention and retrieval' are concerned, 'recruitment' is something we do not do and have pledged as much in the first of the three initiatory questions.  Civil and military forces, corporations and commercial organisations recruit.  Freemasons, in a voluntary group of individuals may seek to attract new volunteers and by so doing are likely to attract those who would find Freemasonry attractive.  On the contrary recruitment carries no such behavioural characteristics and veers strongly and dangerously towards a numbers game, suppressing the special nature of our institution.  Indeed, UGLE is using the term 'attraction' more frequently now instead of 'recruitment'.

'Retention' is a matter for us all and especially for the lodge mentor, so as to maintain interest and to explain the benefits of progressing in masonic knowledge using appropriate assistance.

A desire for 'retrieval' can, but not always, signify failures in either the filtering of prospective applicants or the quality of mentoring.

Part and parcel with all these three aspects nowadays is the proper use of social media.  This has a profound effect on all lodge members' activities inside and outside the lodge.  For instance, where today would a young adult first look if he wants to find out more about Freemasonry in his area.

[/falls off soapbox!]

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In our case, the 'membership officer' is used at Province level as the contact point for 'cold' contacts; he then talks to the individual to determine his initial suitability and what the individual is looking for. He then passes the individual to the membership officer in the individual lodges that seem to match what the applicant is looking for. It's obviously still down to the lodge to decide if they want to accept him. The appointment of a membership officer just goes someway to alleviating what -realistically- would become another job the secretaries end up doing, and gives the lodges a named individual to handle things. When I was the ProvASec, I dealt with the applicants - in addition to the work I was already doing, and when I had someone who I felt was a possibility, I then had to cast around within individual lodges to find who to pass them on to; it'll be so much easier now with individuals being identified at every level for the specific 'role'. Personally, I consider the move beneficial for secretaries who have enough to do as it is. Yes you can argue that it can be done informally and I wouldn't disagree, but how many times do those of us who actually step forward to do the various jobs that need doing find that it's assumed we'll take on something else "because he'll do it"?

I'd much rather have a formal(ish) position that someone can take on with the understanding that they have an important role to do. Even if it is an additional office, isn't it better that an individual is identified and tasked with the job of dealing with cold applicants? The days of personal introduction are -lets face it, long gone. When was the last time that lodges members introduced someone themselves? Isn't it the case that the vast majority of new applicants/initiates come via the internet or reading about some of the charity work we do?

 

Edited by Sontaran

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On 25/12/2020 at 17:07, Sontaran said:

You might want to ask your secretary for a copy(!) - he's actually supposed to pass a copy to all qualified members as you (as WM), and all the PMs and Wardens for the year are a) entitled to go, and b) as an Installed Master you've actually a MEMBER of Grand Lodge. He, as secretary, gets notified when it's posted and instructed to pass a copy on.

Fair point... I have a copy, shared by my secretary 🙂 I'd just not read it properly :o

Edited by Not quite so Uninitiated

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On 27/12/2020 at 07:16, Sontaran said:

In our case, the 'membership officer' is used at Province level as the contact point for 'cold' contacts; he then talks to the individual to determine his initial suitability and what the individual is looking for. He then passes the individual to the membership officer in the individual lodges that seem to match what the applicant is looking for. It's obviously still down to the lodge to decide if they want to accept him. The appointment of a membership officer just goes someway to alleviating what -realistically- would become another job the secretaries end up doing, and gives the lodges a named individual to handle things. When I was the ProvASec, I dealt with the applicants - in addition to the work I was already doing, and when I had someone who I felt was a possibility, I then had to cast around within individual lodges to find who to pass them on to; it'll be so much easier now with individuals being identified at every level for the specific 'role'. Personally, I consider the move beneficial for secretaries who have enough to do as it is. Yes you can argue that it can be done informally and I wouldn't disagree, but how many times do those of us who actually step forward to do the various jobs that need doing find that it's assumed we'll take on something else "because he'll to it"?

I'd much rather have a formal(ish) position that someone can take on with the understanding that they have an important role to do. Even if it is an additional office, isn't it better that an individual is identified and tasked with the job of dealing with cold applicants? The days of personal introduction are -lets face it, long gone. When was the last time that lodges members introduced someone themselves? Isn't it the case that the vast majority of new applicants/initiates come via the internet or reading about some of the charity work we do?

 

What has really helped this in Cambs is that every Lodge has some form of Lodge profile.  That way once prospective Candidates have had an initial series of contacts, are deemed serious and fit the basic criteria for becoming a Mason they can see which of a number of Lodges may appeal to them.  

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On 26/12/2020 at 22:12, Trouillogan said:

Snip

As far as 'recruitment, retention and retrieval' are concerned, 'recruitment' is something we do not do and have pledged as much in the first of the three initiatory questions.  Civil and military forces, corporations and commercial organisations recruit.  Freemasons, in a voluntary group of individuals may seek to attract new volunteers and by so doing are likely to attract those who would find Freemasonry attractive.  On the contrary recruitment carries no such behavioural characteristics and veers strongly and dangerously towards a numbers game, suppressing the special nature of our institution.  Indeed, UGLE is using the term 'attraction' more frequently now instead of 'recruitment'.

Unfortunately recruitment is exactly what is being promoted with the inherent danger that we end up making members rather than making masons.  But we've been doing that for over 20 years already (does that appear cynical?).  The 3 Rs were, of course, adopted originally because they alliterate nicely.  I've preferred the word attraction for a considerable time and voiced the same on far too many occasions to recount but it's nice to see that the difference has "got through" upstairs.

On 26/12/2020 at 22:12, Trouillogan said:

'Retention' is a matter for us all and especially for the lodge mentor, so as to maintain interest and to explain the benefits of progressing in masonic knowledge using appropriate assistance.

A desire for 'retrieval' can, but not always, signify failures in either the filtering of prospective applicants or the quality of mentoring.

Part and parcel with all these three aspects nowadays is the proper use of social media.  This has a profound effect on all lodge members' activities inside and outside the lodge.  For instance, where today would a young adult first look if he wants to find out more about Freemasonry in his area.

[/falls off soapbox!]

I intensely dislike the idea that retention is purely a matter for any one individual and totally support the notion tha it is a matter for every single one of us.  We should all be mentors in the same way that we should all be almoners.

You are right "on point" on the retrieval front.  We are very bad at identifying the reaons for and dealing with resignations and are not seeing the signs anywhere near early enough (except if they are being seen they are being ignored).

Soapbox unecessary - unless you would like to make room on it for me as well.  

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On 01/01/2021 at 12:13, Steve Wigmore said:

Unfortunately recruitment is exactly what is being promoted with the inherent danger that we end up making members rather than making masons.  But we've been doing that for over 20 years already (does that appear cynical?).  The 3 Rs were, of course, adopted originally because they alliterate nicely.  I've preferred the word attraction for a considerable time and voiced the same on far too many occasions to recount but it's nice to see that the difference has "got through" upstairs.

I intensely dislike the idea that retention is purely a matter for any one individual and totally support the notion tha it is a matter for every single one of us.  We should all be mentors in the same way that we should all be almoners.

You are right "on point" on the retrieval front.  We are very bad at identifying the reaons for and dealing with resignations and are not seeing the signs anywhere near early enough (except if they are being seen they are being ignored).

Soapbox unecessary - unless you would like to make room on it for me as well.  

What I'm tending to see now is a process where a resignation is received by a lodge secretary who, either directly or through the lodge's membership officer if there is one, fills in a form which is then sent to a provincial nabob to follow up or to tick boxes.  The lodge members may not hear about the resignation until too late for any of his mates to try pulling him round.  In this I exclude resignations for reasons of relocation or similar.  I do feel that if such a process is to exist, then the first action for the secretary is to contact the brother's mates and as far as possible to keep the matter within the lodge.  Personally I see no role for a province in this at all, unless perhaps a resignation is from Freemasonry itself.

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In Cambs we do both, Lodges handle resignations initially but inform Province via our internal online system.

This means Lodges can do exactly as Trouillogan says and attempt to settle the matter in Lodge, but if not Province can try to help find another solution, and at worst can have the information regarding why someone leaves and address any consistent patterns.

The nice thing about a small Province is the feeling we are all on the same team and Province is there to help rather than impose......

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On 03/01/2021 at 17:26, 3GP441 said:

The nice thing about a small Province is the feeling we are all on the same team and Province is there to help rather than impose......

Agreed, I'm in One small, one medium and two pretty large provinces and the amount of bureaucracy is quite noticeable!

I do have a slight problem with today's concepts of a province.  Originally started in 1725 in Chester because of the time taken in corresponding over queries with London.  Later, provinces maintained membership records at local levels because it was too unwieldy to do so centrally in London (which basically saved our bacon in the Jack Straw witch-hunt era).  Meanwhile provinces organised charity matters, which lodges are perfectly capable of doing on their own; also the so-called 'honours system' for UGLE which many find divisive and superfluous (vide Ireland and Scotland)  Now the membership records are held centrally on the Adelphi/Hermes system, provinces have had to look further to justify their existence - provincially run mentoring with 'co-ordinators' and membership officers recently sanctioned by UGLE.  In the larger provinces they have invented 'areas' and 'groups' as well as 'visiting officers'.  None of which, as far as I can see, have anything to do with Freemasonry.  On the other hand, small provinces do tend to be there in an advisory role and, as you say, don't tend to impose on the lodges in their areas.

Any views?

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Unfortunately, it appears that the larger Provinces (and perhaps UGLE itself) seem to feel they have to find things to do to justify the employment of permanent staff and find them something to do - and maybe that's the problem.

Smaller Provinces however, - like ours, don't employ anyone (educated guess there...); everyone who is actively doing something is an unpaid volunteer. Yes, we identify a likely individual, but after that, if they take to post/job, they do so because they want to, and can step down when it suits them. Financial overheads are therefore at a minimum, but you also get an organisation that works because the members WANT it to work. Jon doesn't get paid for what he does for the Province - other than perhaps travelling expenses, and nor do I - everything I do to create our yearbook is in my own time, but using open source tools so that whoever takes it over won't be subjected to financial limitations to pick things up - just a download.

We have our own online membership database and secretary/DC/mentor/etc reporting system that fits what we as a Province want from it. Interestingly, it was one of those demo'd in the specification phase of Hermes and I'm given to understand that the GSec said "that's what we should be aiming for" - he is a member of, and lives in the Province, so it's entirely possible that he'd had a private demonstration in advance so had some preconceptions. I gather that the other demo owners were not initially taken with it, but (grudgingly) admitted it wasn't bad by the end. I'll watch the implementation of Hermes with interest, although I'm not holding my breath.

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6 hours ago, Sontaran said:

Unfortunately, it appears that the larger Provinces (and perhaps UGLE itself) seem to feel they have to find things to do to justify the employment of permanent staff and find them something to do - and maybe that's the problem.

I may be completely wrong, but I don't believe Hampshire's Province employs anyone... but the volunteers are well (ab)used.

Edited by Not quite so Uninitiated

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1 hour ago, Not quite so Uninitiated said:

I may be completely wrong, but I don't believe Hampshire's Province employs anyone... but the volunteers are well (ab)used.

Are you Hampshire then NQSU? I was originally a Pompey Mason........

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20 hours ago, Not quite so Uninitiated said:

I may be completely wrong, but I don't believe Hampshire's Province employs anyone... but the volunteers are well (ab)used.

More than happy to be corrected - and pleased to hear it! I know Essex employs some permanent staff (or did pre-Covid19), whether they are moving to more volunteers I don't know (even though I'm also an Essex mason).

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On 07/01/2021 at 19:40, Not quite so Uninitiated said:

I may be completely wrong, but I don't believe Hampshire's Province employs anyone... but the volunteers are well (ab)used.

H&IoW used to but Mary retired and hasn't been replaced, so no one knows anything!  The Sussex province likewise has one employee and so does my mother province of Derbyshire.  They know far more than the blokes!

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On 07/01/2021 at 19:40, Not quite so Uninitiated said:

I may be completely wrong, but I don't believe Hampshire's Province employs anyone... but the volunteers are well (ab)used.

the ProvGSec is a salaried office, not sure about others but think the office staff are too.

Edited by gsudron
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