Do Open Days Work?
In recent times, Masonic lodges across the Province have been pondering the idea of hosting Open Days. The debate surrounding the pros and cons of holding such events has gained momentum. To shed light on this matter, the Province has established an Open Day Advisory Team, led by the Provincial Membership Officer and his team. This article aims to explore the question: Is it worth hosting an Open Day, and what can lodges expect to gain from it?
The Primary Motive: Community Engagement
One of the fundamental principles of hosting an Open Day is to connect with the local community. It’s essential to shift the focus away from measuring success solely by the number of potential candidates or new members secured. Instead, an Open Day should be viewed as a unique opportunity to welcome, engage, educate, and have meaningful conversations with neighbours about Freemasonry. It’s a chance to share the benefits of camaraderie, personal development, and the charitable work that Freemasons do to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
By embracing this as the primary motive for an Open Day, we can effectively address both of the key questions surrounding this endeavour.
The Quest for New Members
While community engagement is crucial, attracting new members remains a top priority. The Province recognises this and emphasises the importance of swelling our numbers. To achieve this, lodges must actively promote their Open Day through various means, including social media, online advertising, and promotional flyers.
The Province provides support in the form of pop-up banners, gazebos, literature, and assistance from the Provincial Communications Team. These resources are vital for creating awareness and encouraging attendance.
Members of Paddock Wood held an Open Day recently, and one lesson they learned was to make sure you advertise, they had posters on display in Towns and Villages within a 10 mile radius, we had the Open Day Event included in local parish magazines, we had flyers produced and distributed in three large industrial warehouse sites with accompanying letters, we personally went to the shopping area of Paddock Wood and distributed flyers to passing pedestrians and we also had the open day banner displayed on the outside of the building.
The Follow-Up Event
Hosting a follow-up event after the Open Day is a strategic move. It allows lodges to capture potential new members who may need more time to consider joining. Sometimes, individuals who attended an Open Day might decide to apply at a later date, as illustrated by a recent application in July 2023, resulting from a visit to a 2022 Open Day.
Measuring the Impact
While the effectiveness of an Open Day cannot be definitively measured, early statistics from Open Days hosted in the past year provide some insights:
– Ramsgate: Five initiates and three joining members.
– Sandwich: Four initiates and two joining members.
– Margate: Three enquiries, two initiates, one pending initiate, and one joining member.
– Paddock Wood: Four pending initiates, and one joining member
These numbers demonstrate that Open Days can yield positive results, but they may not provide an immediate solution to membership challenges. Ideally, they should be viewed as one tool in the membership toolbox.
Exploring New Opportunities
Open Days can also be an opportunity to host events that benefit both the community and the lodge. For example, lodges can organise “Bums on Seats” events where they collaborate with charities to host quizzes or race nights in their dining halls. This not only supports a good cause but also introduces new people to Freemasonry, potentially leading to new members.
Overcoming the “Cons”
Hesitations about hosting an Open Day often stem from a reluctance to be more public about Freemasonry. To overcome this, members should embrace the idea of sharing their Masonic involvement with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Openly discussing the rewards of Freemasonry and inviting others to attend Open Days can spark curiosity and attract new members.
In the debate about whether to host an Open Day, it’s crucial to remember that these events are not just about attraction. They provide a valuable opportunity to connect with the local community, break down stereotypes, and foster interest in Freemasonry. While the impact may not always be immediate, with dedication and effort, Open Days can contribute to the growth and sustainability of Masonic lodges.
Should you ultimately decide to host your own Open Day, the Provincial Membership Team is readily available to provide guidance and support to lodges & centres in your endeavour.
Would you like to know more about hosting an Open Day at your centre?
Drop an email to the Membership Team