While Freemasonry offers men many benefits, none are greater than the sense of belonging that comes from Brothers support one another throughout their Masonic journeys, wherever their paths may lead. So, it goes without saying that self-improvement through our Scottish Rite degrees is more meaningful when traveling alongside fellow Brethren, making it important that our Lodges and Valleys continue to bring new Brothers into our fraternity each year.

However, in order to initiate new members, we, as Freemasons, need to make an effort to get to know them and guide them through the process of joining. Can you remember when you petitioned to join your Blue Lodge or the Scottish Rite? Joining a fraternity can be an intimidating experience; many men are likely nervous to begin something new. Having an organized process for engaging with prospective Brothers is essential to making candidates feel welcome and grow our Brotherhood.

Brother Doug Grant, 32°, Deputy Grand Master of Rhode Island, has helped his local Brethren implement a simple yet effective system for following up with prospective Brothers that has allowed the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island to welcome more Brothers than they’ve seen in years past. We spoke with Brother Grant, 32° to learn about the changes he’s instituted to ensure that every prospective Brother is heard and given the necessary information to take the next step in joining our Brotherhood.

Brother Doug Grant, 32°, Deputy Grand Master of Rhode Island.

Q: In the past, how did your Brethren monitor and engage with new applicants?

A: For too long, interested men didn’t receive a prompt reply on their inquiry to join Freemasonry. We had an inquiry form on our website where potential members could submit their contact information, but no one was held responsible for monitoring inquiries or following up. We had too many cooks in the kitchen. Each inquiry would be assigned to a District Deputy, who would then pass along the inquirer’s information to a Lodge secretary. This often resulted in a breakdown of communication that caused many of the inquiries to lose interest. We knew that we had to streamline this process in order to continue to grow our fraternity.

Q: What changes did you implement and what does your process look like now?

A: From our previous shortcomings, we knew it was important to have specifically designated Brothers in charge of all new member inquiries. We selected a short list of District Coordinators, Brothers who we know to be friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic about our Craft and are responsible for following up with assigned inquiries.

The District Coordinators took over the District Deputy's role of assigning inquiries to the Lodge Secretaries or Lodge Prospect Officers as they came in. The District Coordinators’ specific job is to follow up with all inquiries in their districts to be sure that the potential 'new Mason' remains interested and is directed through the process without long or needless delays. Essentially, the District Coordinator serves as a project manager for outreach with potential new members.

The transition was difficult at first, but we’ve seen great improvements already. We’re communicating with prospects in a timely manner and giving them the information they need to take the next step.

The Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.

Q: What else has your team implemented to support your recruitment efforts?

A: Some other tactics that we’ve implemented to support our recruitment efforts are maintaining a social media presence, advertising, and modernizing our website. Through our Facebook and Twitter channels, we share information on how to join as well as updates and highlights from the Grand Lodge and our Lodges around Rhode Island.

We purchased an advertising package with WPRI and Fox News that has been highly successful; shortly after our advertising partnership began, we saw a large uptick of inquiries - making it especially important we had a proper follow-up system in place! Advertising has helped us raise awareness of Rhode Island Freemasonry through promotions on local TV networks, display banners on WRPI.com, as well as a billboard banner along a major highway. We used the “Not Just A Man. A Mason” campaign assets offered by the Supreme Council throughout our advertising campaign.

We also made changes to our website to make the call-to-action in our advertisements easy to follow, as well as to attract a younger demographic. We made the site easier to navigate by having a clear call to action on the “How to Join” landing page. On this page, we list out the qualifications needed to become a Freemason and how the application process works. This has proven to be beneficial to those who visit our site for the first time; their basic questions are answered right away.

The Not Just A Man. A Mason banner that was used for the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island’s billboard advertisement.

Q: With this new system in place, what kind of results have you seen?

A: It's so important for prospective new members to feel like we, as Freemasons, are interested in them. If we don’t connect and follow up with them in a timely manner, the opportunity for joining is missed. That’s why I’m pleased to share that, with this new system in place, 72 new members were initiated in 2021 - more than we have initiated in years past, and during a pandemic, to boot. It has continued to be successful with approximately 130 new inquiries in various stages of the process as of October 2022.

Q: What advice do you want to share with other Valleys and Grand Lodges who are looking to strengthen their engagement and recruitment of new members?

A: The advice that I have to share with other Valleys and Grand Lodges is that you have to love the work. The opportunities are there to recruit new members. You have to take the time to look at what’s working, what’s not working, and test new ways to bring in members. It’s crucial to put the time and effort into making the fraternity a great community to be a part of. Community begins with a man’s very first interaction, so it’s important to leave a good impression when a man reaches out.

We appreciate the time that we had to connect with Brother Grant, 32°, and the learnings he shared on how to best engage and follow up with potential new members. We hope that you share this blog with your fellow Brothers and find ways to implement these practices into your own Valley or Grand Lodge.

Looking for more resources on how to improve your Lodge or Valley experience? Read our Best Practices article on using social media to communicate with Brethren from the Indiana Council of Deliberations.