As a fraternity we do a lot of things hoping somebody will notice us.
The majority of the time we seek attention hoping that some men will approach us and ask for a petition. Bigger has to mean better, after all, and more members mean more dues and more brethren to help out with events.
There’s a cycle to this actually:
Step 1: Host or attend an event with the intent of being seen in public.
Step 2: Hand out petitions.
Step 3: Initiate new members and have them help at the next event.
Step 4: Repeat the process.
There are a few problems with this cycle, namely the fact that we end up holding and attending events hoping the the recognition we gain from doing so will encourage more people to join. Sadly, for every member that joins and remains active, another member goes inactive or passes away.
Not only is this an ineffective way of building membership (if building membership is important to you) but it also detracts from the purpose of the fraternity.
What can we do?
I like to listen a lot, especially to older brethren. Many of them joined our fraternity when things ran differently. I’m not suggesting that things ran ideally but, despite the huge problems we had back then (and some jurisdictions still have), it really meant something to be a Freemason.
Most lodges didn’t try to get noticed back then. It was the good works that we, as individuals, did in our communities that drew attention to our fraternity. We were on city committees and local boards. We were church deacons and otherwise gave our time where it felt important to us.
When we volunteered our time we didn’t do it in our aprons. We didn’t wear our jewels to the city council meeting and we didn’t pass out petitions at the church potluck. Still, people knew these men were Freemasons and it was witnessing these community leaders embody the noble tenants of our fraternity that often compelled many to turn in their petitions.
Do you want honest, ethical, compassionate, and driven leaders to join our fraternity? Then go out and be the example. Let our fraternity represent itself through your actions in your community. Men of like mind seek one another when they are exposed to one another.
If we are actively working as individuals to make the world a better place then we will attract the same types of men. However, if we are actively working to hold fundraisers then we will attract men that think we have to continuously work to hold fundraisers.
Events aren’t bad by their nature, they help to build and maintain community ties. Holding events with the hope of getting noticed and attracting new members, on the other hand, is an exercise in futility.
Do you want our fraternity to be noticed? Be an upstanding citizen. Get involved in something locally. Let men see how internalizing what you have learned from our fraternity makes you a better version of yourself on a daily basis.
This is the secret to being noticed and attracting the right men to our fraternity, in my opinion.