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BEST PRACTICE: Membership development

HOW-TO: Use Pass It On to attract new members

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Question of the month



BEST PRACTICE: Membership development

In the Masons of California strategic plan for 2010-2015, one key priority is to enhance the membership experience. This includes improving the application process and creating opportunities for prospects and new members to get involved.

Los Angeles Harbor Lodge No. 332 proves it's worth the effort. In 2004 the lodge created a new membership development program: Pub Night.

Seven years later, Pub Night is a draw for brethren from lodges near and far. It's a fail-proof way for prospects to get acquainted with Masonry. And applications have increased tenfold.

Shawn Donohugh, secretary and past master, explains:

In 2004 Los Angeles Harbor Lodge was struggling for new members. I'd recently gone back to college and joined a fraternity at UCLA. I brought back the idea of "rush week": a series of social events to introduce prospects to the fraternity. We renovated the lodge's old storage area into a social space, named it in honor of London’s historic Goose and Gridiron Ale-House, and started holding twice-monthly Pub Nights.

The objectives

  • Frequent fun: We needed a program that we could host frequently, so that we always have something to invite a prospect to. Pub Night is every first and third Friday of the month.
  • Facts of fellowship: The idea of any membership development program is to make the case for why a prospect would want to join. Our Pub Nights demonstrate the sense of fellowship and friendship at the core of Masonry.

The preparation

  • It takes two: It only takes a few people to organize Pub Night. I’m the chef. Another member is the bartender. We put food out in a buffet line and people serve themselves. Members help clean up afterwards.
  • No need to RSVP: I never know exactly how many people are attending, but there's always a good crowd. Whether there are 15 people or 60, it's a great experience.
  • Advertising: We publicize the event on our website and in every Trestleboard. (We even created a special Pub Night logo!) But the best advertisement is word of mouth. People bring their friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

The event
People mark Pub Night on their calendars and drive from other lodges - sometimes, other states - to attend. The pub holds 60 people. We often overflow into the dining room.

  • Theme dinners: We serve a buffet dinner based on a theme, which changes every two months. We’ve done everything from a grand tour of Russia to Caribbean fare to Oktoberfest. During the Olympics, we match the theme to the host country. We never serve the same menu twice. That keeps people coming back.
  • Funding: We collect donations at each Pub Night, which fund the next event.
  • Socializing: After dinner, people stick around to socialize and play cards or pool. We address questions from prospects. Members share ideas for the lodge. Mostly, it's a chance to build fellowship.
  • Handouts: We give Pass It On wallet brochures to everyone, and encourage members to use them like business cards. We keep Grand Lodge brochures and packets on hand.
  • Sharing the success: After seeing our success, members from other lodges have adapted the Pub Night program to fit their lodge.

Other improvements
In 2004 we adopted a new mission statement: "Man, Family, Community: Making Masonry relevant in the 21st century." This jumpstarted Pub Night and several other lodge programs, below.

  • Connecting to the community: We created integrated programs for community outreach, including supporting other organizations’ projects and joining the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Communication: To be available for every prospect inquiry, we've made it a priority to man the lodge phone. We created a lodge website, and made it searchable under the Chamber of Commerce site.
  • Family: Once a month we have a Family Night Dinner to engage the wives and children. Last year, we brought back the local chapter of DeMolay.

The results

  • Strike while the iron is hot: The day after a community event, the lodge phone may ring off the hook with calls from prospects. It's important to invite them to something immediately. We have three opportunities every month: Pub Nights plus Family Night.
  • Changing demographics: Prior to 2004, our active members were mostly age 60 and up. Today, although older members are still active as ever, they're outnumbered by members age 40 and below.
  • Member retention: Because we're so busy with new members, it takes almost a year for applicants to go through all three degrees. Thanks to Pub Night, Family Night, and our new emphasis on community, they’re active and engaged the whole time.

Before we started Pub Night, we were lucky to receive one application a year. Last year, we received about 10 applications.

Pub Night, like all of our new lodge programs, is successful because it emphasizes fellowship, fun, and ongoing involvement. As one past master said, "This is what a fraternity should be like."

For more information, contact: M. Shawn Donohugh,


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HOW-TO: Use Pass It On to attact new members

In the Masons of California strategic plan for 2010-2015, one key priority is to enhance the quality of the membership experience. Pass It On, a membership development tool from Grand Lodge, helps you do just that - from preparing to meet prospects' needs to retaining members long-term.

A 2008 survey revealed a direct correlation between lodges' use of the program and the number of Master Mason degrees conferred. The lodges that used Pass It On extensively raised about 5.3 Master Masons per year - compared to a typical 3.2 to 3.6 raised in other lodges.

Here's a look at the kit contents:

Pass It On guide
Outlines a step-by-step process, including techniques, resources, and solutions for common challenges, to help your lodge attract and retain members:

  • Get ready for prospective members
  • Identify quality candidates
  • Approach prospective members
  • Integrate the candidate into the lodge
  • Retain members

Wallet brochure
Provides an overview of Masonry in a convenient size:

  • Distribute to prospective members
  • Encourage prospective members to visit
  • Use as a business card to introduce yourself and the lodge

Membership information/application packet
Designed for the prospective member:

  • "Who We Are and What We Do" brochure
  • Application

Applicant information packet
Designed to educate applicants about Masonry:

  • "About Us" brochure
  • "Just the Facts" brochure
  • Confirmation letter from lodge master (template on CD)

Candidate orientation packet
Designed to welcome each new candidate:

  • "Candidate information" brochure
  • Welcome letter from lodge master (template on CD)
  • Lodge information form (template on CD)

Pass It On CD
Contains template letters and ready-to-use forms, including:

  • Prospective members worksheet
  • Letter from lodge master confirming application was received
  • Welcome letter from lodge master to candidate
  • Welcome letter from lodge master's wife to candidate's wife
  • Lodge information form
  • Candidate Satisfaction Survey
  • Member Satisfaction Survey

Order kits or individual materials from LA Fraternal. The order form is available in the secure Member Center on, under the "Lodge Supply & Awards" section of the "Forms" tab.


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At the 2011 Annual Communication, the Grand Lodge Investment Committee and Finance Committee are once again offering special sessions to discuss your lodge’s finances and investments.

These sessions are designed to answer your questions and provide advice and support. They're open to all lodge officers, hall association officers, and lodge investment committee members and trustees.

All sessions will be held onsite at the California Masonic Memorial Temple on Friday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 24.

Reserve your time slot
Meetings will take place on the EH Level in the California Conference Room A&B.

Friday, Sept. 23
8-8:30 a.m.
8:45-9:15 a.m.
9:30-10 a.m.
10:15-10:45 a.m.
11-11:30 a.m.
11:45 a.m-12:15 p.m.
12:15-12:45 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 24
8-8:30 a.m.
8:45-9:15 a.m.
9:30-10 a.m.
10:15-10:45 a.m.
11-11:30 a.m.
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
12:15-12:45 p.m.
12:45-1:15 p.m.
1:15-1:45 p.m.
1:45- 2:15 p.m.

To reserve your session, e-mail with your requested time slot and the best way to reach you.




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Online learning

The Masons of California strategic plan for 2010-15 makes it a priority to improve leadership and management throughout the fraternity. Thanks to online resources, you can do your part from home.

The Lodge Management Certification Program arms you with tools and training to lead and manage your lodge. All five courses are online and open to California members.

Just click a heading below to get started. Each course costs $30. For more information on the Lodge Management Certification Program, visit Leadership Development under the Member Center on


Program Planning
Topics include:

  • Annual program planning
  • Event planning
  • Stated meetings and degrees
  • Increasing interest in lodge programs

Lodge Finance
Topics include:

  • Essentials in lodge finance
  • Lodge budget and reporting
  • Audit procedures
  • Investments and long-range planning

Hall Association Management
Topics include:

Membership Development
Topics include:

  • Membership trends
  • Effective use of the Pass It On program
  • Masonic information night programs
  • Member retention strategies

Lodge Administration
Topics include:

  • Membership data management
  • Lodge governance
  • Management guidelines and ordinances
  • Communication strategies

Lodge Audit

Prepare for and conduct a lodge and/or hall association audit



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Masonic Assistance offers support services for the whole family. But too often, members and widows don't want to admit that they need help. Other times, they don’t know about the support services available to them.

This “Resources” section was created to help you educate members about Masonic Assistance. Because of you, our fraternal family will know where to turn for the support they need.

This month: Checklist for partnering with Masonic Assistance

From starting a phone committee to posting Masonic Assistance contact information, there are lots of ways to educate members about fraternal support services. Print out this checklist to see how else your lodge can help.


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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge conducts a new member skills and interest survey. Of the 98 who responded:

11% - Yes
85% - No
4% - Don't know


Of those who said yes, the majority use the survey results to help determine committee assignments, candidate coach assignments, and social activities.

Here’s your next question.





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Grand Lodge of California
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San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000