Mission POSSIBLE: Recruitment (03/01/2018)
Recruitment and Retention. These are heavily emphasized topics that our people scour the world for answers on how to improve in these key areas. It's unlikely that any one system will work for everyone in every situation. Therefore, these topics will regularly come up, each time emphasizing different techniques and mindsets for improving R&R in any chapter.
The emphasis in the coming paragraphs is on the importance of communication, using everyone’s network, and planning for your new guys.
Think one member at a time - You want to bring in a class of 10 and turn your fortunes around, but this goal is often unrealistic and potentially unhealthy. Would you be prepared to educate all those new members and make sure they’re engaged? The important thing is to focus on getting that next member - taking your chapter from four to five members, for example, makes a big difference.
How do you find that next guy?
Welcome back, old friend - Before you reinvent the wheel looking for that member out on the street, think about where your current members are that don’t attend. Many DeMolays take time off to focus on school or an activity and once they get out of the rhythm, they don’t know how to get back into it. Call these members up or send them a message checking up on them and reminding them you’d love for them to come back.
Show, don’t tell - If you’re hurting for members I’m assuming you’ve already asked your friends who aren’t DeMolays to join at some point. If you haven’t, finish reading this and start that conversation ASAP! What probably happened is you described what you do, and they said no thanks. Try again, but instead of telling them how great it can be, plan a fun event and invite them so they can experience it for themselves. I encourage you to invite all prospects to your chapters fun events.
You have connections, use them - If you've never heard of the Six degrees of separation, it's the idea that you’re six or fewer contacts away from anyone on the planet. So, stop thinking “you don’t know anybody” to ask about involvement in DeMolay. Start with your siblings and close family. Let them know you’re looking hard for new members, and have them help you spread the word. If you can, give them membership materials to put in their car or workspace. For every person close to you, there is a whole network of people your message can reach.
Do unto others- Most chapters have a relationship with their sponsoring lodge or temple and have advisors with Masonic connections. Do something nice for them as a chapter. Offer to clean up the place, cook them a meal, do something considerate for them, then get it in their ear that you’re looking for new members. Your chapter will strengthen a relationship and you could get some new members out of it.
Have a plan- As your contacts spread the word, make sure you’re ready for when someone decides they’re ready to join. Have a plan to get a new member up to speed on everything DeMolay, and the intricacies of your chapter. An impossible task in one sitting, but try to give them a basic understanding early on. Their first meeting should be less about doing everything by the book and more about explaining what you’re doing and why. Time permitting, answer any questions you can and share some of your chapter's history.
What you’re doing- Notice that the previous steps have been different ways of doing the same thing. Rather than asking 10 random people at school, or setting up a table at a fair, we’re connecting to people through someone they trust, and in a more personal manner than a mass message. It’s alright that your connections can’t explain everything about DeMolay like you can, family and friends often make the best spokespeople for DeMolay because they don’t overload people with information the way Actives and Advisors sometimes do.
Plan a prospect party/ open house (possibly with degrees to close)-. Set a date well in advance, perhaps even before you have a prospect, so you and your contacts have a date to give them when they first show interest or curiosity. Plan the specifics however you want, but at the end of your event make sure to give prospects/ new members contact information for advisors and DeMolays in your chapter, and to get their contact information as well, as follow up is crucial. Don’t wait to reach out either. If you take too long and they forget about you, they’re probably not coming back. Lastly, you might’ve missed the mark with a few potential members, but don’t give up on them yet. Send them another invite and if they come back you’ve clearly got a chance.
In review- You know you’re ready to grow, now…
- Ensure your chapter has membership materials (petitions and informational items)
- Reach out to estranged brothers and invite them to come back
- Talk to your friends about joining (tempt with fun events)
- Use your family, friends, and Masonic family to find prospects for your chapter
- Plan an event to inform about DeMolay (and possibly hold an initiation)
- Follow up with new members so they come to the next event
- Be prepared to incorporate new DeMolays
- Invite those you still haven’t won over to the next prospect event
Does your chapter or jurisdiction have an exceptional recruitment or retention program? I would love to hear about it!
Josh Starnes, PSMC, Advisor (Kentucky)
Success starts with effort!