Brother Michael Kinigstein, 33°, MSA, Commander-in-Chief for the Valley of Northern New Jersey shares his Valley's secret sauce for recruiting new members. Learn more in his guest blog post and see how one might apply these best practices to their own Valley.



An essential component in any Valley's growth plan is a defined pathway to membership growth and retention. Allow me to speak briefly about our Valley's defined path to success in terms of membership recruitment.

Backstory

The COVID-19 pandemic created a set of new challenges that many of us had no idea how to initially address. In New Jersey, it was impossible to meet in large groups on an indoor basis. This created many months of empty meeting nights and cancelled events. One of my goals as Commander-in-Chief was to develop creative ideas on how we could stem the tide of emptiness and at the same time, spur our leadership in a direction of growth.

In consultation with our Executive Secretary, he highlighted our largest class had occurred some years back and it was 75 new members in one Reunion. The Northern Valley traditionally conducts two reunions per year. Therefore, attempting to match our largest class and thus exceed that number was a massive challenge, but we were ready to take on that challenge. Our Executive Council agreed with our secretary's campaign idea of a "drive for membership" surrounded the by the theme of getting 75 new members.

Hence, the birth of the “Drive for 75” campaign. Graphics and a member application were created around this theme showing highway styled marker signs with a speed limit of 75 posted. Then, a member had the idea of incorporating a one-time petition fee of $75 with a defined expiration date to get the campaign kicked off. This idea spurred tremendous growth.

Unfortunately, the pandemic took center stage again by having revised rules posted by government officials now putting a temporary end to any gatherings, large or small. We were back to the drawing board and produced an “under the tent” outdoor only, 100-person maximum Rite on the Road event for this new crop of anxious candidates.

Advice on Recruitment Planning

Pandemic or not, these are great suggestions that are proven to work! We have brought in over 100 new members for this census year, with more waiting in the wings. Allow me to share some key suggestions in putting a winning recruitment plan together.

1.) Conduct a survey with your Secretary to discover the Valley years of highest growth. Analyze these numbers and create a plan centered around themes that may have taken place during that time period.

2.) Make recruitment a Valley-wide goal and let it be known through all social media channels and newsletters.

3.) Instruct lodge ambassadors to promote the set date surrounding the event while doing lodge announcements.

4.) Search your member archives for first- & second-line signers on established members and highlight an opportunity for those signers to earn a membership attainment award or special cap that you create to recognize them. Our Valley has a membership attainment blue cap. If a member either brings in five candidates in one class or recruits 10 new members total, he earns a blue cap from the Valley and is presented with it at a ceremony.

5.) Sponsor a free dinner for all members who bring in at least one new member. Again, reference those archived petitions for line signers.

6.) Seek support from lodges from within your service area to support a Rite on the Road event. Have your Valley offer to pay for refreshments and other associated costs. This is a great opportunity to “go on the offense” with the Rite on the Road 4th Degree video kit!

7.) If you have areas of your territory that are heavily influenced by bilingual communities, encourage members of your Valley that are fluent in that customary language or culture to be present and offer an opportunity to join the Scottish Rite. Offer to conduct a Rite on the Road in their lodge or district.

8.) Prepare a live degree as part of a Rite on the Road event to accompany the 4th degree video. New members joining will be impressed, and they will also see an opportunity to get involved!

9.) Find ways to involve both your current members and your new members. Offer even non-speaking parts in Degrees or even support parts in events. Make the opportunities FUN!

10.) Create new member packets for distribution to new members. Ideas of what to include are Valley accessories (pins, ties, lanyards, shirts, etc.), Valley meeting times, Valley contact info, and their Scottish Rite degree passport. You can also provide information on Valley history, opportunities for involvement, awards, committees, and charity projects.

11.) Watch parties! Come one, come all! Bring a lodge Brother or just come on your own to help fill up or complete your degree passport! Conduct an in-house survey of the degrees needed most by the membership. Then, couple that with a “Nite at the Rite” themed event showing video degrees and possibly one live degree.

12.) Invite Hautes Grades students to discuss some of the core purposes and teachings of the Scottish Rite. Some Master Masons would be intrigued on how the Scottish Rite can be the “college of Freemasonry.”

These are just some of the ideas we have implemented that have worked for us. Each Valley has a set of unique characteristics one can apply. What’s yours? What is your “why”? Make it unique. Express it...then go for it!

Because in the end, we all benefit from an organization that’s cutting edge and a team that’s in it to win it.