Food For Thought
This edition's topic - Falling Membership
This, my second Food for thought is the first chapter in an attempt to look at this most pressing problem. That is the falling membership of Freemasonry, and it is one that affects everyone of us. It affects us in many ways and not just in emptier lodge rooms, but in increased costs per brother, shortage of people to take part in ceremonial work and also the work outside the lodge room.

The lack of members is a terminal disease for any organisation and we (Freemasonry) must be  aware that we are not alone in having contracted this affliction. It is perhaps a result of all the wonderful modern day inventions that we have to take up our valuable hours, or is it the rise of equality in the sexes, and that men can no longer treat their partner with the abandon of generations past.

It is incumbent on any reviewer of the problem of membership to put it in its context not only in our organisation, but in others and its spread throughout our world. Only by appreciation of the widespread and generational scope can we begin to understand where we, the Craft in New Zealand, are.

In that understanding we can look at how others are tackling the problem, and select possible avenues of actions that we may take in an effort to reverse the trend that we are in.

So the problem is “FALLING MEMBERSHIP”, how is it affecting others outside of Freemasonry. Here are some links to those who are similarly afflicted - both in New Zealand and worldwide. In some of the web pages listed there is information how the problem is being addressed. As you the reader visits these pages make a list of ideas that we as Freemasons may be able to implement, and on the larger scale that our leaders in Grand Lodge may be asked to consider.

Falling RSA numbers prompt membership drive

New Zealand and Commonwealth citizens can apply for RSA membership even if they have no direct Service history or family connections to the Services. See Who May Join? for more details.

Ageing Church of England 'will be dead in 20 years'
The Church of England will cease to exist in 20 years as the current generation of elderly worshippers dies, Anglican leaders warned yesterday.

Why is the Episcopal Church near collapse?
Prominent bishops are pulling out. Convention-goers were told headquarters had spent $18 million suing local congregations. Members are leaving at a record rate. This is no longer George Washington’s church - once the largest denomination in the colonies.

Musselburgh congregation bids to halt falling membership

Church of Scotland loses thousands of members in ‘disappointing’ year

How will political parties fund themselves with falling membership?

Retaining Members - England Golf
Maintaining current membership levels has never been harder for most golf clubs.

Service clubs have suffered declining membership in the past 30 years

Aging members, lack of interest contribute to decline of civic groups in Wichita

Lions Club addresses vision, health concerns
The Lions Club is dedicated to making the world a healthier place. However, falling membership has hindered local efforts to promote vision and hearing around the world.

This list could go on for page after page and the negative messages that the above sites are from time to time mixed with ideas for positive action. However, not all is doom and gloom as the following links will show

A younger member in a predominantly older group
Lee Ballard, member of the Lafayette Kiwanis Club, talks about what it's like being a younger member in a predominantly older group.

Lions purring along after pause
Recently-retired Mosgiel postie Rob Urquhart is delighted the future of the Mosgiel and District Lions Club is looking much brighter these days, as it roars back into life.
'Over the past year the club had been involved in a mass of activities, including regular fundraising barbecues run outside The Warehouse in Mosgiel, and fundraising for four schools and preschools in the area, as well as food bank drive activities, and donating ''distraction bags'', including games and toys, for the children's ward at Dunedin Hospital.'

Lions Clubs Experience Largest Membership Increase in Nearly Two Decades
While many volunteer organizations continue to see a decline in members, Lions Clubs International experienced its largest membership increase since 1992. This marks the third consecutive year of membership increase for the world's largest service club organization.

The New Zealand instance of rejuvenation is firmly the result of a dedicated and wise man, Rob Urquhart, and should be an example to everyone of us that an individual can make a difference. However, he must have been assisted by wise leadership from his national and world body. The following links are for some of the excellent literature that is provided for their members.

LIONS- Club Officers Team Manual
Recruitment and Retention - Membership recruitment -  Just Ask! New Member Recruiting Guide - The Membership Satisfaction Guide - The Club Excellence Process - etc.
(This has many Many excellent publications as downloaded PDF files)

Lions Membership Recruiting

Lions however, are not the only organisation to have excellent publications on membership retention and recruitment.

Top 3 Ways to Increase Association Membership

Increase Club Membership (Toastmasters)
A great list of functions for finding members

Communicate Value, Increase Membership

Seven Levers to Increase Membership Recruitment

Ideas to Increase your Club’s Membership

FROM AGGIES MOMS - 10 Tips to Increase Membership

Club Membership Committee Manual - Rotary International

In looking through these sites think about which of the suggestions that you, the reader, and the Craft as a whole could use to turn around our loss of members. Then think about what our Grand Lodge has already provided for us to use.

The reader should make a list of the important actions that are proposed that they feel would work well and put them in their own order of importance. As Freemasonry is so vast in its teaching no individual brother will have exactly the same thoughts. However, it is only by considering the problem in this way, that the individual can improve his attitude to the problem, and perhaps bring more people into the Craft.

John Barns Graham