Statistical Analysis - A Different Way to Look at Membership
Brian Lewis

The document below was created for the Indiana Grand Commandery's Membership Committee however the information can be useful to any Masonic organization. While the exact recruitment and drop rates may change, the concepts remain the same. Some level of membership loss is inevitable and thus recruitment is essential for maintaining a necessary participation rate.

There are two factors not in the report that are important when using this analysis for a different organization:
  1. Money - This analysis makes no consideration for how many dues payers are needed to pay the bills. Few York Rites have a building. So they don't have the same budget constraints as Lodges, Scottish Rites, or Shrines that have to maintain a building to meet in.

  2. Volunteers - Statistics on volunteer participation are lacking and the analysis tried to stick to the facts when possible. Anecdotally, we can observe their is a volunteer cycle. New members get involved, normally early in their membership. Some drop out of participating quickly while others proceed to go through the Officer Chairs. Once they've completed the Line, some stick around for a little bit, but many move on to new challenges. While some stay active for decades, these are the outliers. Look at any list of Past Presiding Officers and the majority tend to no longer be involved.

    The volunteer cycle puts additional pressure on recruiting new members. Every year, a couple of new volunteers have to be recruited to replace those who will burn out or move on. This explains why an organization can have many times the minimum number needed and still have difficulties filling their Officer positions and conducting the ritual. If recruitment isn't consistent, the participation rate will suffer long before the membership numbers drop.
This is a different way to look at membership. Instead of just wanting more members, we need to ask ourselves how many do we need?
  • How many active participants are need to fulfill all of the necessary functions?
  • What is a reasonable participation rate?
  • Based on the participation rate, how many Members are needed?
  • How many Members must be recruited annually to maintain that participation rate?
The goal shouldn't be to get back to where we were in the 50s. The goal should be to reach a place where there are enough active volunteers to provide everyone with a great member experience.

Any questions or comments about this document can be directed to the author at blewis717@gmail.com.

(There is a link at the bottom to open this document in a full window)

A Statistical Analysis of the Membership of the Grand Commandery of Indiana