When a candidate petitions a lodge there is a long wait and period of uncertainty. The fraternity has processes to ensure the quality of new initiates and under no circumstances would we want to sacrifice those standards for the sake of speed. The issue arises when we take a step back and view our processes from the perspective of the young candidate.
Eighteen to twenty-five year-old’s have grown up in a culture of instant gratification. They can download movies immediately and buy items online and have them in hand within 24 hours. It probably took a lot finally get the courage to ask about Freemasonry, fill out a petition and write a check (Who writes checks anymore??). To find out that it will be 45 days before they hear anything, is going to be disheartening at best. The question is how to we maintain the integrity of our review and approval process and satisfy the candidate’s desire for instant gratification?
We believe the best solution is to establish clear communications with the candidate and keep them in the loop.
We’ve built this into our system and here is how it works:
Upon petitioning a lodge the secretary adds the candidate’s information to the database through a secure web interface, and uploads a scan of the petition. Notification of the petition is automatically sent to the Grand Lodge and the candidate receives and email from the Grand Lodge thanking him for petitioning your Lodge and explains the process for new candidates.
This simple notification is positive acknowledgement that the candidate is “in the system”. As the candidate is accepted and progresses through his degrees he will continue to receive emails from the Grand Lodge, and the Lodge he petitioned, so he knows that he has not been forgotten.
This communication system is fully automated and integrated with the activities of a secretary. As the secretary reports degrees and advances candidates through the system. Emails are generated by the system and sent to the candidate. To the candidate this simple communication is reassuring and keeps the fraternity in the front of his mind. Remember that the candidate was looking for something when he asked the question. If we can’t keep him engaged through our processes, there are other organizations that will provide what the candidate was looking for and respond quicker.
We’ve said it several times and it is worth mentioning again. Grand Lodge Membership Management software can be so much more. It isn’t enough to just track the members you already have. With today’s technology and a little creative thinking, a database system can be used to grow the fraternity as well.