In Freemasonry, one of our important tenets is that of constant development. Never settling for mediocre.
We extend this dedication to improvement across our entire membership through our Strategic Plan and forward-focus.
Freemasons Victoria Strategic Plan
FMV is dedicated to moving toward the future with an innovative approach to organisational transformation.
We have commenced an in-depth process of redevelopment and improvement that reaches every level of our membership.
You can read the full version of our Strategic Plan here:
Strategic Outreach Meetings
We invite you to attend one of the planned district meetings in the coming weeks. These forums will enable you to engage with our Board members and senior staff and discuss the details in the draft plan.
Your contribution is appreciated and encouraged by Freemasons Victoria.
Check your district dates here.
District Coordinator Meeting, Box Hill
On 5th January District Coordinators from across Victoria met at Box Hill to discuss the Strategic Plan, and how we can work together toward strengthening membership and moving forward. You can find the notes from the meeting here.
Freemasons Victoria Strategic Plan Feedback
As feedback comes in from within our membership, we will include it on this page for the purpose of full transparency.
All feedback has had the identity of the contributor removed for privacy reasons, however the content remains untouched.
From a Grand lodge perspective the strategic plan is to seek congruity with lodges and primarily build consensus as a result effective delivery.
I think it was a good idea to develop a strategic plan which sets and outlines goals/aims of FMV directed to its future!
It is a challenging document for the Craft in general and Grand Lodge in particular - but, I believe, if fully implemented, the plan will achieve the highly desirable results anticipated.
If the charges were readily available then it would make it easier for brethren to enter, pass and raise new brethren
Well done team, on your efforts to reverse the decline in Freemasonry. We need to not change what we do but change how we do it.
Our members in the clubs and organisations with young people are doing good things. Our members in the clubs and organisations with young people are doing good things.
A great blue plan, covering most areas that need addressing and KPIs will help us identify our strengths and weaknesses.
The current draft Strategic Plan is a vast improvement on the efforts of our previous administration and I hope that all Victorian Freemasons will get behind the Plan.
The strategy of “Positioning FMV as a voice on contemporary issues” should be an anathema to Freemasons.
In the Strategic Plan draft there is not a single mention of the Supreme Being nor the essential requirement that prospective members must acknowledge their acceptance of God before being admitted.
Similarly, and importantly, it is identified that “progressive politically aware” terms such as “cultural change”, “diversity”, “multicultural”, “indigenous”, LGBTI, and “human rights” are contained in the draft. I put it to you, that conforming to such dogmatic terminology markedly detracts from the Fraternity’s character and teachings.
The strategy of “Positioning FMV as a voice on contemporary issues” should be an anathema to Freemasons.
Emphasis should, purely and simply, be placed on the egalitarian nature of the fraternity, thus embracing all good men and true, avoiding specifics, enhancing impartiality, and negating the corruption/undermining of a rudimentary and distinguishing characteristic of the fraternity.
The nebulous and misleadingly euphemistic term ‘Today’s Man”, should more pertinently be directed to the man who would be attracted to Freemasonry for appropriate reasons and on-going commitment. He is the man who sees the value of broadening his experience, beyond his business and social spheres and political inclinations, to become a vibrant part of community contributions whether or not under a defined masonic canopy.
Such men will appreciate the spirit of camaraderie in the “mystic tie”, that indefinable common bond, prevailing among Freemasons. Whilst some will enjoy simply meeting with their friends in a relaxed atmosphere once a month, others will embrace the challenge of team work, the experience of involvement and thereby enhance their appreciation of the moral ethos of the Craft whilst, simultaneously, seasoning their self-development competencies.
The strategy appears to focus on introspection. Rejuvenating and reinvigorating from within our own members.
The Strategic Plan is the result of hard work done by a collective group of people. Congratulations on taking the first tentative steps of what is likely to be a very long journey. As with any journey, the choice of route and destination are pretty core to the end result.
The document is a very broad stroke aspirational wish list. There are a lot of relevant and outlined intentions, however many of these would lose traction for lack of goal setting and targeted dates, once committees have been established. I feel the document needs to be a little more ‘edgy’ to engage the abundance of passion that is already out there.
The document didn’t read very well and had the overall feel of a glossy brochure advertising a new product.
The actions weren’t in any particular order of priority, I am predicting that there won’t be an ‘on all front’ attack?
The succession plan for Freemasonry isn’t a new challenge, and the world theatre of war that we have experienced over the last 110 years has boosted our numbers out of the danger zone on more than one occasion. Irrespective of this, the challenge is still evident and clearly precarious. This trend does give some hope however that there is within every society of people, a group of men who as a by-product of a life experience have what it takes to become a good Freemason.
The strategy appears to focus on introspection. Rejuvenating and reinvigorating from within our own members. This has some merit however it also has a reasonable level of limitation too. It isn’t a solution that hasn’t been tried before, but worthy of a revisit.
The real issue for Freemasonry is similar to any sporting club, new members need to come to the club to allow the ageing players the latitude to retire and let the new blood recreate former greatness, and it is in this mechanism that there is one avenue of solution, and a couple of side avenues that naturally associate with the thought process.
We need to encourage the youth to become involved. The Lodge and its inner workings are only a small portion of what a Mason is, and what Freemasons can achieve. The outward behaviour and values that distinguishes us from others, are all skills that we would like every child to aspire to, it is also an opportunity to make the transition period a much more gradual process rather than switching the light on and off.
- We target masonic families and friends families for likely candidates. Boys between 12 and 18, to become involved.
- A lot of Freemasons wives will work with a lot of younger men who would also qualify.
- Develop a school presentation for year 9-12 boys to educate them what we are about.
- The army Navy and Airforce Reserve forces would also have a considerable number of potential candidates.
As with the sporting clubs, they make the game a way of life and an educational institute to further the ends of their sporting associations.
Again thank you very much for an enlightening and stimulating presentation and if you continue with this line of approach the launch will be a success.
A good overview and the ensuring questions and statements from the attendees, and shows passion as well as some good ideas.
A good overview and the ensuring questions and statements from the attendees, and shows passion as well as some good ideas.
- There is still a perception that needs work that FMV is a ‘dark blue assisted working environment’.
- We have had strategic plans in the past and still nothing changed. Why will this time be any different?
There are more significant changes that many members don’t appear to grasp as yet. One being the separation of the ceremonial and the executive, another is building a team that is professional and accountable.
Sponsoring Sports Teams
To become a major sponsor of a community sport team and thus get our logo on their jersey.
- If we have the resources to back a local team in not only AFL, but also soccer and rugby union. There are definitely initiatives around all three (ie getting African migrants into AFL, supporting Polynesian communities with rugby).
There are many similarities between Freemasons and the military – camaraderie and drill being two of them. I believe that is why we have always had strong relationships with military around the world. I believe that this connection is dying and I strongly believe that it is a perfect recruiting ground for members, both currently serving and former servicemen.
Communications and Technology
With today’s cloud based SAAS platforms we should be able to have a single database of all members. The same database used by both Grand Lodge and by the Lodges.
Website and Facebook
I see the plan item about Grand Lodge connected websites for each Lodge, though issues may arise for some Lodges. In younger circles there are many businesses who either don’t have a website and in reality all interaction with their members and target audience is via Facebook. Facebook is easier to update information, post events, share photos, share articles, appoint multiple admins, etc. Facebook is both an easier option to deploy and manage, as well as being more relevant for (the majority) of a Lodge target market.
When the majority of Lodges have an event, they still use paper based booking forms. Not only is it a logistical nightmare for the organiser, but also details get missed (ie dietary), you can’t use a credit card, the paper form is embarrassing, references to “return the bottom portion with your cheque”. None of these things scream progressive organisation in either reality or perception by younger members.
Can we have a series of technology platforms that are promoted and explained by FMV to the Lodges. A prime example being a booking platform such as trybooking.com. Such platforms can connect and share information with other cloud platforms as well (e.g. please update your details when you make your dinner booking).
I know there is a Blue Lounge podcast. I don’t know if the podcast is being used beyond being just a podcast, but it could easily be the basis of a blog as well. The more content out there acting as a web to draw people in the better.
Can we set a minimum standard for dinner? Younger men don’t want to turn up after work and be fed party pies and sausage rolls. They don’t even serve that when a group of young men get together to watch football, let alone expecting it when dressed in a dinner suit at a meeting.
When are we getting a smartphone app that lists all Lodges, locations, timings, costs, etc so that a young man on the go can look up what is happening that night in real time (because he is suddenly free for the night and wants to find a Lodge meeting nearby)?
In the plan is an item about making Lodge Transition redundant in the future. Though I understand the desire to remove the need for placing unwanted and ‘old’ members into it by keeping them in their own Lodge, but there is another purpose to Lodge Transition.
Member Rewards Program
Would it be possible to have FMV join a member rewards program that gave us access to discounts in shopping, entertainment, eating out, etc.?
- I believe that an association such as ours should refer to surplus and deficits. Not profit and loss.
- With the focus in the plan on compassion and philanthropy, I hope that the Foundation provides greater clarity moving forward. This includes acknowledgement of receiving an application. Before that there had been few guidelines as to what would be looked upon favourably as part of the submission. It was not very user friendly.
The Lodge education officer should take a more prominent role within the Lodge. It should be his role to see that the work of the Lodge is carried out to a high standard.
We talk about the big things that we do in the donation of money to very worthy causes, the scholarships we provide and so on, which, without doubt we need to continue as a matter of critical importance.
Relevance in our Community
The draft plan highlights the following as the way forward in promoting community, member awareness and perception;
- Community Awareness (survey)
- Member Knowledge (survey)
- Positive Media Exposure (Advertising Sales Rate – independent valuation)
- Social Media Engagement – followers/connections/fans
- Unique website visits
While I believe that these points are of crucial value, I also believe that the most important point has been left out and should always remember that relevance itself has two interpretations and as an example, in the case of a retail business is that of the business owner and his prospective customer because without both having a common point of reference with each other a transaction will not take place.
How do we apply this in the Brand of FMV?
We talk about the big things that we do in the donation of money to very worthy causes, the scholarships we provide and so on, which, without doubt we need to continue as a matter of critical importance. However what relevance has this to the men and their families in our own streets? In most cases this will not touch them personally and while the will most likely approve of our philanthropic efforts, it will in most cases be forgotten as soon as their next life challenge appears e.g. the television stopped working.
I believe that the best way to create awareness and relevance with the people who we will attract to Freemasonry is through direct action in our local community by our Lodges that are placed in our local community.
I also believe that we are an organisation that draws its strength from our local community. This makes us no different to any other organisation that draws its strength from the local community whether that be a local Football Club, Cricket Club etc. As soon as that organization loses its relevance to the community from which it draws its strength, it will cease to exist and I believe that our decline in membership reflects this in our case.
To try and relate the crucial nature of what I am proposing, I present two scenarios that you may have heard previously;
- If for example you presented an ice-cream to an individual (e.g an aboriginal person from the Amazon Jungle) that had never seen or heard of such a thing, he/she would most likely be hesitant in tasting it, however if you were to try retrieving it after that individual had one lick of it you would probably have trouble retrieving that ice-cream.
- Try to describe the taste of a Banana – without tendering a Banana for someone to taste you would have some difficulty.
Our Membership will come from those that view Freemasonry as being relevant in their lives and I believe that this will vary for every individual. However after a man has decided to become a Freemason he may well have made one of the biggest decisions in his life given that most people make no more than one important decision a year and some not even that.
So what is going to affect our membership numbers going forward both new and retention of existing members? I offer the following key points
- Prospective Target Membership
Identifying our target market I believe in any pursuit is most crucial. We seem to be placing great focus on recruiting the younger man, and while we must always strive to bring younger men to Freemasonry, it is unlikely that they will remain affiliated as in most cases they will likely not identify with the older and regularly authoritarian demographic of our members. Metaphorically speaking I believe that we are trying to climb a staircase in one single step when the achievable way to climb is by one or maybe two steps at a time.
I would suggest that our primary target candidate (customer) is one of middle age who will in turn attract younger men and then younger again.
In order to attract and retain membership we must strive to make all our activities as fun and enjoyable as possible.
Our Lodges unwittingly promote segregation at their meetings in the following ways which I believe has a detrimental effect to our membership;
- Members and visitors are sometimes allowed to sit by themselves in Lodge
- In the South we have the Master table
- Brethren of the same ethnic origin sit together and sometimes even have their own Lodge
- We allow exclusive Masters groups at our lodge meetings which do not include non-members of their group to sit amongst them and share their special beverages
- Past Masters don’t make a point of sitting with the newer members
- Visitors are not properly encouraged to sit amongst the members of the Lodge but instead are regularly allowed to sit in their own groups
All of our Lodges should have different strengths that make them special fun places to attend and visit which is brought about by the diversity and similarity of the individuals that make up their membership and not ethnic, genetic, Masonic rank, seniority or religious traits.
Communication within many (Probably the majority) of our Lodges is poor at best and in many cases the Secretary for whatever reason does not pass on information to the membership.
I believe that in this and every case FMV can be very effective and communicate directly with the membership electronically, which is an area that has been poorly managed previously.
FMV does not engage directly with its members which is an activity that it should as an absolute minimum do in an effective manner at least once a month, and could be made up of interesting, intriguing, entertaining and historical articles, as such what relationship can the general membership have with FMV – clearly from the numbers absent from the information night there is a lot of room for improvement
Good communication with the general membership is the best way to break down barriers, create transparency and a better sense of belonging.
- Ensuring freedom from discrimination, harassment and bullying
Too often we allow PM’s and others to Scold, talk down to, rebuke and intimidate younger men into abandoning their point of view and walk away – and all too often stop coming completely. Tolerance of this culture has to be overcome as a matter of crucial importance.
- Engagement with Members
Direct engagement with members by FMV should be more prevalent – one suggestion would be to regularly encourage suggestions for the betterment of Freemasonry from the general membership. This strategic plan process is a good start, but do we know that all members have received a copy of the Draft Plan?
- Systems, Procedures and Training
Any well run organisation and in particular those with ISO accredited systems have documented systems and procedures, these at a glance seem to be painfully lacking at FMV and seem to be made up and changed regularly by individuals as often as the wind changes and generally seem to be poorly documented if at all.
For example does FMV have a properly constituted document which is approved by senior management for the interviewing of Candidates? To me it appears not.
Have a number of staff been trained in how to interview a candidate and a list of criteria to be met and suggestions to be given? Again to me it appears not to be the case.
Documented and readily available Systems and Procedures at FMV will create transparency of process and increase confidence amongst the membership in the value of Grand Lodge.
- Partnership with Lodges
In my view FMV is seen by Lodge administrations as being the head office when it should be viewed as a partner in a common cause which will be brought about by a consultative approach. An authoritarian approach will still be sometimes required.
- Payment of fees and arrears
To remove the penalty of exclusion concerns me as when this is removed what mechanism do we have to ensure fees are paid.
In our Lodge we have a number of members who are habitually late in paying their dues, make no effort to put payment plans in place and ignore reminders to pay and we note that many of these individuals have had overseas trips this year.
Perhaps a written system and procedure for all Lodges to follow may be a solution here. Perhaps direct communication to the membership from FMV outlining the importance in paying dues in a timely fashion might be helpful.
This will have two effects- it will identify that person as a Freemason to work colleagues and friends, putting the brand out there in the public arena and also act as a conduit for questions.
As part of our Strategic Plan we need to clearly define the skill sets that the leaders of the local Lodges need to develop.
In principle I like the strategic plan that has been presented.
However, based on my professional expertise and personal experience within and outside Freemasonry, I can quite comfortably say that the final version of the strategic plan needs to tackle the following point – Skills & knowledge required to run local Lodges as successful business units.
Currently, people who are running local Lodges lack skills/competence in many areas. In this email I will just mention some:
- Emotional Intelligence
- Listening Skills
- Presentation Skills
- Leadership Skills
- Sales Skills
- Marketing Skills
- Cultural Awareness
- IT Skills
As part of our Strategic Plan we need to clearly define the skill sets that the leaders of the local Lodges need to develop.
It is impossible to re-frame and revive an organisation without a structured, disciplined, rigorous and re-training strategy, which should target 3 strategic levels:
(a) Overall Organisation
(b) Individual Lodges
(c) Individual Freemasons.
Without an Effective Learning Strategy Freemasons Victoria will disappear as an organisation in its current form, within 50 Years.
Providing different membership options such as;
– Full member – Attend Lodge meetings, can go through degrees, can go through chairs for lodge officers etc.
– Affiliated member – Completes an awareness program about Freemasonry at a local Lodge, pays perhaps 50% of the full fees. Has some benefits, such as allowed attend Lodge meetings in 1st Degree – but can’t go through degrees. There could be a time limit on this option, such as 3 years. After 3 years the member could progress toward a full membership or be reverted to a supporter status.
– Supporter – Completes an awareness program about Freemasonry at the local Lodge, pays perhaps 25% of the full fees. Has benefits such as attend lectures at the local Lodge, but can’t attend full/formal Lodge meetings.
More membership options would make it easier for people to form a long term relationship with Freemasonry.
Good discussion and well attended. From the discussions it would seem that the most important aspect is to speed up the process of initiation.
Good discussion and well attended. From the discussions it would seem that the most important aspect is to speed up the process of initiation. I wonder instead of reading for 3 months would it be possible to establish a members only web page so that new initiates could be placed there for viewing, for a shorted period (1 month)?
It is quite obvious that a lot of work, and some considerable expense, has gone into the preparation of the document as presented.
It is quite obvious that a lot of work, and some considerable expense, has gone into the preparation of the document as presented. All those involved, some voluntary and some not, are to be commended for their efforts.
I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person but I found it a very difficult document to follow, having little flow, being far too complex, littered with unnecessary verbiage and obscure terminology.
Unfortunately the Grand Master in his introduction states that he wants our “ongoing engagement to enable the necessary cultural change for sustainably strengthening and growing our future”, but he does not, however, elaborate on what needs to be changed or what is wrong with our current culture. This explanation is required before the membership can have any understanding of what is strategically necessary to be planned.
All organisations of substance must have a “Mission Statement” which should be the starting point of this strategy document. I fail to find any such statement pertaining to Freemasons Victoria anywhere in the presentation document or for that matter on our website. All that is mentioned in the document is a vision for the future which is simple and to the point. Unfortunately the remainder of the document is not so concise and direct.
Nothing in the document mentions the structure of the organisation or its various entities, how and where its finances are raised and maintained, but it seems solely directed at marketing Freemasons Victoria to others and increasing membership. The document should be all encompassing and not concentrating on how others perceive us.
I note that mention is made in the document relating to “Human Rights” this one area which we should steer clear of being of a tenuous political nature of which our organisation does not need to be embroiled in. Likewise we have no need to become involved in racial matters indigenous rights or racial diversity. This is totally unnecessary as our ritual states “herein all men are equal meeting on the level and parting on the square”. As for even raising LGBTI we are not a political party or even want to be seen to be taking one side or the other. This should not a document governed by being seen to be trendy.
If this is the best we can do then we are in a great deal of trouble.
We need a simple straight forward plan that every member will be able to understand and find acceptable as a framework on which the administration can build the detail.
It appears there is a major concern as to the sustainability of our organisation due to falling membership numbers. For corrective action to be taken one should get back to basics and understand the way men are and have been recruited into Freemasonry over the ages.
Freemasonry has always relied on “word of mouth” contact for the recruitment of its members.
At the high point of its membership numbers immediately after World War 2, it was the “word of mouth” contact of masonic Diggers to their non masonic comrades that generated interest; along with the need for those returning Diggers to have some continuation of the comradeship that developed during their wartime service together that lead to a major influx of initiates into Freemasonry.
After living in close proximity during their wartime service, the masonic serviceman knew whether or not his mate was a suitable type to become a Freemason, likewise the non mason knew his mate was a “good type of bloke” and if he was the typical of the average mason and said it was a worthwhile organisation, and they could retain their friendship after the war ended by joining the Craft, then that was reason enough for him to join Freemasonry.
Nothing has changed with the “word of mouth” process today and there still exists the need for continued comradeship, or as we more commonly call it today, friendship.
Without having access to membership data, I will guarantee that almost every new member of the Craft is the result of a mason talking about Freemasonry and either asking his friend to join, or his friend asking him how he can become a mason. This personal contact is a very important step as it maintains the integrity of our organisation. Every mason is taught to carefully refrain from recommending anyone to a participation in our secrets unless they have strong grounds to believe that that person is suitable and that they will ultimately reflect honour on their choice if made a Freemason.
Marketing to entice someone off the street to join the craft will only result in the dilution of the quality of men who claim to be Freemasons. The vetting process by a committee cannot be compared to the vetting over many years carried out by a mason of his friend who he wishes to introduce to the Craft.
We should not actively seek ‘off the street’ introductions and keep these to a bare minimum for the reason mentioned above. I am sure good men will make enquiries, also men with a “what’s in it for me” attitude will enquire. Selection should be based on quality alone. This will be difficult for any person not having an intimate knowledge of the applicant to ascertain.
If it is imperative that we increase the number of Freemasons in this jurisdiction then the only way to achieve this is via the “word of mouth” of the current membership. Each member of the Lodge must become a recruiting officer and be encouraged to introduce their friends to Freemasonry. In this way alone will we have any hope in expanding our membership base while maintaining ethical standards in line with the principles and tenets of the Craft.
Recruitment in our case is not as simple as that of say a football club which has no other requirement of a prospective member than that he pays his membership when due. There is no expectation that such a club membership will extend more the term of the season or year of membership.
In our case we are recruiting members for life and expecting them to attend every meeting. Not only that we expect every member to be an ethical, honest and charitable person. No easy job for the recruiting officer. But I am sure everyone of us knows at least one person who should be a Freemason and would a prospective candidate. If only half were to be introduced this would be a major step forward.
Thank you for inviting feedback on the FMV draft Strategic Plan. I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Ben Quick and Matt DeNato at the Ivalda Masonic Centre last night. Both were engaging presenters who fielded questions well, and Andrew Power was also on hand for further clarifications. Overall, I think we’re heading in the right direction.
The discussion was quite robust. Marketing and membership were strong topics of discussion.
We are a state-based organisation, and as such the focus on Victorian Freemasonry is more than appropriate. Indeed we need to look to our own situation as a priority. However, I do think there would be merit in expanding the Strategic Plans view globally. We are a worldwide fraternity, and in the long-term I think the sustainability of Freemasonry as a whole will depend on global connections. For example, live Skype links with overseas Lodges (potentially outside of regular meeting times) to share interesting events and ceremonies.
In regards to Human Rights as in the plan. Many brethren took particular umbrage to this term appearing in the plan, as they felt that it was loaded with political import. We would be involving ourselves in matters such as “boat people, or executions in Iraq.”
We are a compassionate organisation, and for better or worse to be compassionate today is a political statement. In the 21st century, I don’t believe we can remain both apolitical and relevant. One of the interesting statements Bro. Ben Quick made was that the majority of new Freemasons want more leadership in their lives – they want to surround themselves with leaders, and become better leaders themselves. Therefore, it is incumbent on Freemasonry to be thought leaders in Victoria, and in the world. As such, we need to stand for something – otherwise we will be seen to stand for anything.
As Freemasons, we swear an oath to stand for Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. In today’s language I would define these as inclusivity, compassion and transparency. In a world currently debating the rights of large groups of society, I can only reiterate that these values are political positions – and my view is that we can either embrace this, or be left behind.
The argument against political alignment in Freemasonry, as I understand it, is that it would exclude and alienate some brethren who held different views, and we have in theory always tried to be an inclusive order. However, we exclude many people from membership on the basis of sex, (lack of) religious belief, and even perceptions of their moral character. With particular regard to the matter of moral character, it is my view that it is vital that Freemasonry provides meaningful moral leadership – we must practice what we preach. To me, that is inclusivity, compassion and transparency. Others may hold different views, and I will be happy to participate in the ongoing conversation around this. What is most important to me is that a decision is made on what our position is – what do we stand for? What does our leadership mean to the community? We say our principles matter – so as we do in the First Degree, let’s put them to the test. We may lose members in the process – but in increasing our relevance to our local communities, the state of Victoria, and the world, I think we’ll gain more than we lose.
Thank you for all the work FMV has done so far to plan for our future. I look forward to the results over the coming years.
It is great to see all the ideas coming from the plan in terms of growth.
As we are moving into a tech age and everything is on iPhone. We should develop an app for our smart phones.
It should incorporating
- Lodges near you with dates meetings and what they are doing on the night
- Contact for all lodges and secretarys
- Information on current events
- Information on the strategic plan
- Education about the craft in general
- Where to obtain further education maybe a link to the Lodge of Research Facebook page for further knowledge
- Information on the maps programs, where and when
- Charity events the individual lodges are running them, including how you can be a part of it
- Grand Lodge charity events
- A place where you can advertise your business trade etc. to offer discounts to the brothers, to help each other out
A few ideas I have that can be tied into the app.
I congratulate FMV on creating the Strategic Plan 2017-2025.
One thing that strikes me in the plan is the (introspective) focus on FMV as an organisation in itself. Whilst the Foundation and Epworth are mentioned, I was hoping to see some more direct comments in relation to those two more public institutions of FMV.
I suggest that more prominence of FMV support towards those two organisations could be sought by way of signage/boards/plaques at various hospital/medical/aged care sites to promote the charity aspect of FMV. I would think that giving us more prominence may actually be beneficial to the public image of FMV and freemasonry in general.
On the whole, the plan is far reaching and certainly heading in the right direction but I think there has to be a couple of in-house matters we have to attend to make this work.
- The first point is on communication, expanding into growth areas and recruitment and harmony with our brothers. As we are now being recognised by people and businesses are donating to our causes. Which brings me to the several parts of this point? (A) District Boundaries: We need to distinguish and have set boundaries for districts. As the growth areas come about, we need to consider existing Lodges in those precincts or if none, building one on those sites. There was a directive put out sometime ago that all media paperwork had to be vetted by Grand Lodge first prior putting in papers. This brings about questions- did they communicate or run it past their own District Coordinator or Grand Lodge? If so did anyone check where this advert might also be advertised? If this is the case, members feel that they are riding off our coat tails trying to take candidates from this area. This is not creating harmony amongst lodges and members of same.
- Human Rights- in my mind is wrong term to use, as when mentioning those two words, to “today’s man” it conjures up politics and this is against our criteria for Freemasonry. Our speakers pointed out we should not only be a local face but national and international. If we title caring for people and communities in need ‘today’s man’ will see our young members as eco warriors and us oldies as 1970s hippies making love not war. Surely we can reword this title as not to go against our constitution.
- Open Installations- having only one open installation per district every 3 years will be a disaster. Over the time open installations have been running I y have taken interested persons to the installations and they have joined our craft. There may be too many occurring currently and we may have to curb that, but surely we could have three open installations per year per district if we want them and then we can hopefully pick potential candidates. The public who come away from these events have a very changed and agreeable attitude from attending these events.
New members today come from the 'instant answer' world and new members expect to move ahead more rapidly than what is currently possible.
Firstly, I am pleased that Freemasons Victoria has appointed a Chief Executive and that plans are being worked on for the future of Freemasons Victoria.
My comments are as follows;
Brand Development- I suggest that rather than just use the words ‘EDM template’ that this should be spelled out in full. A minor point perhaps but given that a large percentage of our members are elderly and possibly not familiar with abbreviations or this type of presentation it ought to be written in the easiest fashion possible.
Regarding Benchmark +5%- With respect using Bench mark +5% means little as it does not convey any idea of just where FMV might be in regards to branding, community awareness etc. Surely FMV must have some idea as to what the benchmark is currently, or has it never conducted a survey to find out the real position?
Remembering we are most likely dealing with many members who are not used to modern presentations I say that the less text book type phraseology the better, therefore the more likelihood of an easier acceptance of the proposals.
Strengthen Members- This should read to attract new members not members.
Member numbers 2018 versus member numbers 2020- To achieve the member numbers of 11,000 in year 2018, it will take an 11% increase in the first year followed by a 10% increase in the second year. Based on current member numbers this seems extremely optimistic. The 11% followed by 10% does not include the annual loss rate of about 700 members per year. If the loss is factored in you are looking at increases of 18.88% and 17%. Therefore with 247 Victorian Blue Lodges it will require an average of 6.8 new members for each Lodge to reach the target.
In relation, this is the first year retention rate of 10%. However, 10% of what? If it is 10% of the gain (1000) then the percentage increases needed to achieve the membership levels are much greater and even harder to achieve than the 11% followed by 10%.
Promoting Diversity- Unless individual Lodges target specific and different community diversities it means that all Lodges will be chasing the same thing.
Develop Recruiting- ‘Suitable Lodges’ with respect, are not all Lodges Suitable? I would hate to be told my Lodge is unsuitable as this current wording could imply. This should read ‘Develop recruiting strategy with Lodges’.
Membership Experience- The benchmark surely must be a best guess. If you can only get about 10% of members to respond to a survey and 60% or so are old and they cannot remember much about their early days in Freemasonry, this information for the immediate future would seem to be a best guess result.
New members today come from the ‘instant answer’ world and new members expect to move ahead more rapidly than what is currently possible. Ironically many of those who voted this rule in are older members and ones who went through the degrees in a shorter time span than they now insist on. This aspect of joining FMV needs to be standardised.
Joining Fees- This belief that Freemasonry is exclusive, expensive to join and costly to attend needs to be countered. With so many other options of entertainment or interests available to people today the last thing FMV needs is a high joining fee. The younger generation lives in times where families have many demands on their resources and fewer men are likely to be attracted to freemasonry. Fees for joining members need to be lowered.
I find the Strategic Plan well-structured but deficient in two key areas which are:
- Our Heritage – the golden key to our evolution both locally and of course in Europe/UK
- Our Organisation – especially the chart of both management and our affiliated Institutions needs to be well known
There are facets to both of these points which can show the connection of every member to our organisation and how each member is an integral part of the whole.
Thank you for the opportunity to put a few words together on the topic of saving or enhancing a Lodge.
Thank you for the opportunity to put a few words together on the topic of saving or enhancing a Lodge.
A few years back the Lodge I attend was in real trouble. Members that never turned up (too old!), Past Masters in every floor position, our ritual was rubbish and we did not know what to do.
Our Lodge looked at doing ONE thing differently & successfully, and then go on with another.
What we did as a Lodge was instead of having Brethren race in at 7.25pm just in time to don their apron and rush into Lodge, we opened our facility at 6.30pm serving, chips, nuts, olives and other snacks with a drink, allowing the opportunity have a chat to each other.
In over 4 months we doubled our attendees.
We then suggested that members ask their mates to pop in on the way home and share a drink with us to see that Freemasons are just like ordinary folk – just more committed. This did not intrude upon their family life and they came along.
That worked and all of a sudden we had a couple of new members – who in turn asked their mates to come along. Then we started getting members from another Lodge or two we know – because their mates were having FUN! The ritual improved and now we have no Past Masters in floor positions at all!
We are now a very viable Lodge with men wanting to join & a number of Brethren working hard through the positions to advance themselves.
A comment on the following message;
“Unless we focus our recruitment on men aged between 21 and 39, we risk becoming irrelevant. Therefore we need to understand the incentive for men in this age bracket to join Freemasonry and we must also understand how to retain our valued existing members while we focus on growth. It clearly is critical to present programs and development that will engage and excite our members.”
I strongly support the sentiment, the thrust of the argument. For far too long, Freemasonry has apparently ignored the continual decline in membership, to its great detriment. Any strategic move has to be welcomed.
However, I do not believe that we should focus initially on the 21-39 age group. As the average age of a Freemason is 67, it is unlikely that the 21-39 age group will relate to them, and if so they will end up leaving within 4 years. We will then be worse off than we are now, with an increasingly aging population and a failure in our main membership drive.
I would strongly suggest that we should first be looking to recruit from the 50-65 age group. They will have more in common with the current members, and are therefore more likely to both join and stay. Then once we have started to move the demographic towards the lower numbers, we can attack the next group, 35-50, and after that tackle the 21-35 group.
I strongly believe and recommend such a staged approach to membership drives, as more likely to be successful in the longer term.
The cost of joining a Lodge to be considered - the initiation fee, Lodge dues, the purchase of the apron and the purchase of a dinner suit.
Some feedback on the Strategic Plan;
- The Installation of the new Master of the Lodge, Invite other organisations to this event – open the doors to Rotary, Loins. Zonta, Local RSL Presidents. Remove the ceremony leading into the Installation of the new Master to be the same as for the Grand Master. The public to attend.
- Consideration to look at the wording in the ritual which is old fashioned and not relevant to the present day.
- The words to be used when initiating a new candidate from another religion. Where are those words?
- Why are there two codes of Dress? One for daylight meetings, the other for evening meetings, including the wearing of gloves. Are there two types of Freemasons?
- Items from headquarters to the local papers, very difficult to achieve? Items in Melbourne papers to include the raising of money for the many worthwhile projects that are carried out by Freemasons Victoria.
- Does the Freemasons Victoria Magazine go to any other organisations within the community?
- The setting up of a scholarship or chair at a university in memory of Reg Gregory and his family, they gave a lot of money to Freemasonry – where is it? The New Zealand Freemasons have such a chair, why not Victoria?
- The cost of joining a Lodge to be considered – the initiation fee, Lodge dues, the purchase of the apron and the purchase of a dinner suit.
- Lodge to be invited to attend the changeover of presidents at Rotary, Lions, Zonta etc. Within Freemasonry, the general public are allowed in after the Installation of the Master
- What are the opportunities for a man to join a Lodge if he is deaf?
It is being quoted there are only 80 members under 25.
At that age group, we are competing with sports, i.e. AFL, NRL, Grid iron, Cricket, Golf, just to name a few.
If the figure of 80 members under 25 is current, I nominated or seconded 3 of these members. It appears others members/Lodges are not finding this sector of membership. I find it hard with the Blue Lounge group growing, that numbers are still very small.
People are money rich and time poor. This is right to a point.
Young males 18-25- some are starting families, saving money or have mortgage for a home. Or they have large rent/lease, paying off cars etc. Money rich was the argument used to justify the increase of initiation fees.
I understand the need for the safety net of an initiate, and that they have 12 months between becoming a member and becoming a Master Mason. Then there is a 12 month wait until you can start the climb through the chairs- and this if there are no delays.
This is good for a member that only attends his own Lodge for meeting night, sits where he is told and doesn’t get to do charges or have a roll in the Lodge working. Males are not going to be happy with that, or encourage their friends to join.
Modern young people are always watching red tape being bent or broken.
Attracting new members- I personally get very knotted up when talking about Freemasonry. They were a few years back there was some work being done to help members talk about Freemasonry.
The older members being the majority of the membership are still in the mindset of secrecy, and you can’t ask people to join, and they should ask you. It is against the grain to be up front about Freemasonry.
Good times in Masonic Centres have to be public (Anzac, or Remembrance Day, Christmas parties etc). Perhaps change the Ladies South nights to Friends in the South, encourage members to bring a friend, partner or their families. If a Lodge finds a good way, share is state wide. Stop re-inventing the wheel.
Lodges- all members should be helping with mentoring new members, prospective members or new members. Introduce them to local lodges, and help educate them.
When visiting Lodges, look out for less experienced members. Help them with entering the Lodge on the square. I have been to 100s of installations. I often re-enter in 2nd or 1st degree to help newer members re-enter with someone that has done it before.
Districts- visitation officers cannot be at each meeting. They have personal lives and other Lodges to go to. Perhaps each district can have an information letter emailed to Secretaries with updated information. At the december Quarterly Communication, it was pointed out that there seems to be an information block between the Grand Master and members in the Lodges.
Create and Conduct Quarterly Membership Surveys.
I have only seen these online. As previously identified the median age of our membership is 67, and a lot of these are not internet savvy. Therefore online surveys are only good for the younger minority. Remember the past is for learning- why are we not using this knowledge?
Rebranding of FMV
Why? Government Departments spend millions doing this every year, yet it does nothing for efficiency. Freemasons Victoria rebranded a few years back. Why are we throwing good money away? If it isn’t broken, why fix it.
Remember older members need simple web sites. Newsletters need to be easily printed and downloaded to phone, tablet or laptop for reading on railway etc.
Investigate Multi-Lingual Marking Materials
Good Idea. Start with some of the correspondence coming out of Grand Lodge. It could be put in plain language that Freemasons on the floor can understand. It doesn’t need to be interrupted by the secretary as most don’t know what they are saying.
This is fantastic for younger members, but what about those without computers?
Development of an app is fantastic. This could help us find Masonic Centres address, include work of the Lodges. Not sure if it is the right medium for Lodge feedback.
Some older members are not sure what a Podcast is. I am a firm believer in a few map programs should be done in the normal Lodge meetings as the work for the night. Remind the older members what it all means.
I have purchased the Lodge Book of workings 3 times in loose leaf form and it keeps changing. This is causing some members to not bother as it will change next year. Therefore, you end up with many different versions of the book of workings. In my day, it wasn’t like this. Why change for change sake.
Promote Diversity in the Lodge Room
Providing Indigenous Acknowledgement throughout activities- what about Italians, Greeks, Germans, Black Americans etc. Be very careful with isolation any group of people.
Identify New Lodge Sites
It has been the trend to close Lodges and move them to major centres. We already have a very big hole in the Broadford, Romsey, Preston, Whittlesea area. Craigieburn, Wallan, Bulla, Beveridge, Yuroke, Donnybrook have no Lodge without coverage within 20 minutes.
Further Enhance Capacity
Care should be taken not to stop helping in places that we have been helping in the past and try and replace with something higher in profile e.g. Uncle Bobs Club (UBC). Stop helping them and they end up asking for new volunteers to replace the Freemasons and no longer support us. We could get the Grand Master, or some celebrities that are Freemasons, in the spotlight. Do we have anymore Celebrities in the craft?
Recognising Lodges is good publicity.
We should be careful to recognise the silent worker behind the scenes.
Where does the Foundation fit into the structure? Where are the Grand Master and Chief Executive Officer? This was apprehended at the December Quarterly.
I am semi happy with the way it is sailing but without a management structure plan it is hard to know who to talk to.
I agree with the basic aims and focus of the plan that has been presented.
However I do have significant concerns that this plan is lacking in some vital areas that will condemn the plan to go down the same road that earlier ideas have already gone. The key to this plan working was to make sure that all levels of craft masonry was involved from the highest management levels at headquarters down to the suburban Lodges. This makes sense but at no time was any mention made of how this aspect of the plan should be executed. There has been no suggestion of what sort of support or guidance will be offered to the Lodges (if any) to do their part in working with FMV in making this work.
You stated that we should be aiming at lowering the average age of Freemasons in Victoria and this makes obvious sense by recruiting younger men. The suggestion is to aim for 30-45 year age group. It would appear that FMV has overlooked the fact that most men in this age group are family men with younger school age children and a mortgage to service, yet they are required to pay a hefty initiation fee to Grand Lodge when they join Freemasonry, as well as having to go to the expense of purchasing regalia and a dinner suit in order to become a Freemason.
How on earth can a man justify this expense to his wife when in many cases they are already under the financial stress of raising a family? If FMV was realistic about its desire to increase its membership base, it would remove the impediments it puts in the way of prospective candidates, in fact it could facilitate a man’s entry into the craft by forgoing the first six months of capitation fees in order to reduce the financial burden involved in joining Freemasonry.
FMV is in a very healthy financial position and there would be very little sacrifice on the part of FMV in doing its bit in helping younger men to enter the movement.
Many responses are coming in from the broader membership via the website which is great and very refreshing/encouraging.
It is noticed that many responses are coming in from the broader membership via the website which is great and very refreshing/encouraging.
I have been considering how we could more effectively use our Masonic Centres and attract local communities to them. I offer the following suggestion;
Quarterly (March, June, September, December) on a designated Sunday.
Every Masonic Centre throughout the State holds a garage sale in its car park and each building is opened up for tea and inspection. Respective Districts could co-ordinate publicity and individual Lodges would be requested to co-ordinate the day at their respective Masonic Centre.
A charge could be levied on each stallholder and net proceeds of the entire day could be allocated to a different local charity each quarter.
FMV could be involved in high level publicity (3AW, TV and Herald Sun/Age) and the provision of banners, membership material, etc.
Such an activity is a natural fit with several elements of the Draft Strategic Plan, would further open our Craft to the general public and may well lead to increased membership. It would also encourage respective Lodges to work together and promote their respective Lodge points of difference.
For many years I have decided not to proceed past Inner guard for the following reasons;
- Never asked
- Attended Lodge several times but given no role
- My proposer, now deceased never offered support or instruction to me as to the way ahead
- The openings of the Lodge are always far too long. Regularly 40 plus minutes and up to 50 minutes is just crazy.
I don’t want to listen to 20-30 minute sermons. At my church we have recently had two ministers one who speaks for 10-12 mins (maximum 15). No wonder we can’t attract new members to freemasonry.
Closing of the Lodge and our ritual is far too long. The craft won’t and hasn’t listened for years.
We need to change or we are soon to be a forgotten craft.
What an excellent business plan that any organisation could embrace. I am however wondering if adequate attention has been given to the personal development of members.
We need training which includes leadership skills, team work and workshops, and provide training in conflict management, assertion skills, skills of acknowledgement and reflective listening.
Freemasonry provides a unique opportunity for members to develop personal attributes, that can lead towards inner peace and the ability to be more successful fathers, grandfathers and family men. We are not given these life skills in our early education of schooling. I consider a need to carefully design statewide workshops. They can provide Freemasons and perhaps their partners with opportunities for personal development and this to be included in the strategic plan.
My first concern is about the time-frame of the plan. The plan needs to be dynamic and cannot remain unchanged for the next nine years. If that were so, I fear that the plan would quickly become irrelevant and even de-motivating when the high hopes of the architects of the plan prove to be difficult to accomplish or inappropriate.
I suggest the plan includes a series of reviews. Initially review the plan during 2018 to look at progress, update environmental considerations, adjust targets and actions and either issue a revised plan or an entirely new plan. The new/revised plan would include a timetable for further reviews.
Including a review process will help to emphasise to the membership that the plan exists, is dynamic, and will remain relevant to their needs and hopes for the future. It would also encourage the members to have further input to make it relevant to them and not just “head office”.
My other issue is that the plan is not of sufficient scope to qualify for the term “Strategic”. In its current form, the plan qualifies more as a “Sales Plan” that I could summarise as:
- Advertising and promotion
- Increase sales
- Improve after-sales service
- Planned giving/community support
- Strengthen head office administration
A Strategic Plan needs to look seriously at the essential characteristics of Freemasonry (why people join and what they hope to get out of the craft) and develop a product offering that appeals to those needs and to establish how we should deliver the product.
A Strategic Plan would also mean we can identify the market in which we are operating and our competitors in that market. I suspect that when we do the analysis, we will find that service clubs such as Rotary, Lions, and Apex and even Scouts are our competitors.
Also, to qualify as “Strategic”, we need to identify how we can enhance our capabilities, influence change in our market, or even expand into other market areas.
I feel that starting the current draft plan is of much greater value than delaying it while we attempt to identify the “perfect” strategy. So, I suggest that the plan includes the strategic analysis as part of the proposed review cycle.
I applaud what is being done to move FMV into the contemporary world. In the light of this I am concerned at the amendments passed at the recent Quarterly Communication. The first of these presented by the Grand Registrar were excellent and in order, especially in the way they had been announced at a previously.
The amendment proposed by the Past Grand Master lacked proper presentation. I was among the many who had not received any notice. It was not sufficient for the President of the Board of General Purposes to say that it was the best that could have been done. The seriousness of the amendment warranted detailed consideration. This was especially so as the amendment seriously altered the original amendment by giving the Grand Master powers that have no place in a modern business.
The Past Grand Master wanted to bring the management of FMV into line with the ritual. The ritual is in fact one of the big problems- not only longwinded and boring, but often syntactically misleading. The ritual needs dramatic revision and strengthening.
When the Grand Master is installed the ritual makes the absurd assertion, quoted by the GPM, that the newly installed Grand Master has powers that are well nigh absolute, or words to that effect. Not even the monarch of England would make such a claim. How any man who had been installed as Grand Master could have believed that he had ever possessed such powers is frightening! Even more so considering that none of the Past Grand Masters present did not challenge the notion. Furthermore the absurdity is enhanced by the words “well nigh absolute”. Absolute is absolute not a little bit absolute, or a lot absolute etc.
In the past Freemasons have ignored the unjustified comparisons with ancient orders but times have changed. Freemasonry has to take its place in the world and be able to withstand scrutiny. From what I have read and heard FMV has made considerable steps in this direction. The progress is impressive. Congratulations.
My feedback is based on an intent to ensure that a truly strategic plan, with goals, strategies, actions and measures is derived and refined into an actionable plan for the good of the organisation.
To Build a Brand for Today’s Man
My observations on the content are threefold:
- We have an existing brand, however around 50% of the listed actions or strategies point to initial brand design/discovery activity. I would recommend that if there is a need to refine the brand, that the articulation should reflect research around existing brand perceptions and if there is a need to change or shape those perceptions.
- Strategies listed are in many cases not actually strategies; they are actions or goals and should be either more clearly articulate or defined. They should also link in a very direct sense to a higher objective. In some cases they are very loose and look very like motherhood statements. As an example the strategy listed as: “Innovative communications tactics to attract new and engage existing members” is not a strategy; it is not a well defined action and while it sounds very nice when examined is really a fluffy restatement of the “strategy” listed immediately above, which is articulated as “Traditional and digital media exposure and engagement”, but has been articulated as an additional strategy because of the word “Innovative”.
- The measures look very arbitrary. In most cases they look like a straight linear projection over time. Linear projections spanning a significant timeframe are rarely an accurate reflection of the paradigm. I would submit that the measures need to be closely examined as to their drivers and then rebuilt based on how those drivers will be used to achieve an articulate goal. I would also contend that some of the measures articulated are either low hurdles or less important measures. As would be widely accepted by members, most new Freemasons are attracted to Freemasonry either by a family member or a friend. The measure of NPS – Net Promoter Score or a derivation of this measure is likely to generate a more powerful understanding of growing the brand and attracting new members.
To Attract Membership by Engaging Today’s Man
My initial review is that this element of the plan looks very fragmented and need to be more succinctly compiled. Most of the elements are around existing members, services and a combination of inward and outward communication mechanisms.
Within this element of the plan, it should be broken down and articulated in a manner that is contiguous across a life cycle of Freemasons from becoming aware of freemasonry through to separation from the organisation. As a preliminary structure to consider I would recommend consideration of some form or lifecycle model. Below I have proposed something that potentially matches the lifecycle of a freemason from becoming aware of the organisation through to retention/departure from the organisation:
- Awareness – Before any action actually occurs they need to be aware of the organisation. This should be the “public facing” brand.
- Attraction – Before they become a member, they are attracted to become a member. What attracts new members and what can be done to enhance this perception to increase attraction (not just awareness). I note that this is a complex element as most freemasons join a Lodge around a common interest, linkage to one or more individuals and geography (but geographic catchment for individual Lodges is often far broader than is currently perceived as common interest and personal linkage a far strong attractors in a value based organisation).
- Recruitment – How do we improve the recruitment experience? How does initial attraction convert to a joining decision, how are administrative barriers to joining reduced or streamlined. How do we lower the joining cost (I note that the increase in joining fee in recent year is a increasing the barrier to joining not lowering it) How does FMV support lodge recruitment activities?
- Engagement – How do we increase attendance at meetings? How do we motivate their charitable interests? How do we apply our strength against ideas of merit? In particular how do we encourage different ages, demographics, skills to be applied appropriately to maximise the positive effect in the broader community (to in turn improve brand perception and Net Promoter Score)
- Retention – How do we sustain our members and ensure that they are valued? How do we understand the mechanisms of retention and also reason for leaving the organisation?
- Support – How do we provide underpinning support mechanisms that ensure inclusiveness and support of members and families?
My consistent observation would be to request that it passes through a process of refinement to remove redundancy, ensure a balance between discovery and action and that any KPIs are refined based on a sensible model of the market expectations (market for potential members) and not simply straight line projections.
I encourage the review of any element of the strategy that implies action(s) but does not specify them and serious review of descriptors such as ‘innovative’ to ensure they are not simply being applied as buzz words to a document or creating a line of action that is not actually differentiated from others.
While we must become progressive I also urge caution in not changing the core of an organisation with a 150yr successful history (in Victoria) and that strength and stability are two concepts core the every freemason, right from their initiation.
I urge a continued refinement in the interest of strategy and actions that will drive our future success.
FMV success is totally dependent on the structures, management and vibrancy of the individual Lodges.
The cringe factor that has been spoke about will always will be in full flight in our organisation
At the Strategic Plan forum there was only one, maybe two, relevant comments from the floor regarding the strategic plan. Many members can’t see that FMV is no longer relevant. I am at a loss to how you and your team can get this through to the membership.
I agree that FMV success is totally dependent on the structures, management and vibrancy of the individual Lodges. It is not solely anFMV Management issue. The people in our organisation (at Lodge level) no longer have the skills to restructure what is broken within their own Lodges. I also have concerns with the selection of the District Teams that report back to FMV and what damage this could be doing to Freemasonry.
If there was more hours in the day or days in the week I would be willing to put my hand up and do more at Lodge level, but with two little children at home and a busy work life I have had to make a stand against Masonic pressure and start saying no.
I was interested in some comments regarding an online Lodge which may be in development. Many members would be interested in using technology to allow our younger brethren to experience the wonders of world wide Brotherhood and not get bogged down in their local Lodge with the same cringe worthy individuals.
In conclusion I am impressed with what has been done so far.
- That the new Board should be responsible for the decision making process of the Strategic Plan as they will be the body that will be implementing it and developing a Business and Finance Plan.
- We believe that our core Masonic Principles and Values should precede the Plan document.
COMMENT 1 – Our Vision – Refer page 4 of 14
Any Strategic Plan defines the Organisation. It should be clear, concise and unambiguous. We feel it should have a commentary about who we are, the current state of the organisation and a very clear SWOT Analysis. Our suggestion is as follows and is drawn from the FMV Website.
Freemasons Victoria –Who we are (the purpose of Freemasonry)
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations and holds a unique place in history. The most widely held belief is that modern Freemasonry evolved out of stonemasons’ guilds in 17th Century England. One of the many professional guilds at the time, the stonemasons’ guild began to admit members not directly involved in the masonry trade, but whose moral and spiritual ideals were aligned with that of the guild.
Freemasonry is an organisation which strives to change with the times and always seeks to offer men an opportunity to better themselves and the community in which they live.
A new member is taught the principles of Freemasonry (moral lessons and self-knowledge) via participation in ritualistic dramas – a Ceremony of Initiation (Entered Apprentice) – a Ceremony to Pass (Fellowcraft) and a Ceremony to Raise (Master Mason). Every member has taken the same journey to be admitted into the organisation.
The ritual used follows ancient forms and uses stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical and teaching guides.
An ethical and moral approach to life is instilled by the practice of the teachings of Freemasonry. With the core values of kindness, fairness and honesty at the centre of all Freemason’s lives, members are urged to regard the family as paramount. Freemasonry also teaches concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
By consciously undertaking self-development and contributing to their communities the lives of Freemasons are transformed in deep, meaningful and lasting ways.
Feedback on the Strategic Objective: “Refine the Member Experience”.
In talking to both the newer members of my Lodge as well as the more established members, it has been interesting to listen to the different points of view regarding the future of Freemasonry. Some of the more established members have expressed views that the rules and standards discourage new members and see a more flexible approach as the answer. At the same time, it has been interesting to listen to some of the newer members who seem to express an interest in the importance of standards and the sense of growth and achievement that come from observing those standards and making progress in the Craft.
This echoes with my experience of the Craft and the pride I feel in sharing a particular moral standard which my brothers and I seek to hold ourselves accountable to. These standards are something which we should take pride in and encourage others to share as part of our FMV brand. I think flexibility is important but there can be a fine line between adapting our brand to different market conditions and diluting the quality of the brand which attracts (and has attracted many) people in the first place.
I think those elements of this particular strategic objective which reward and recognise commitment to the principles of Freemasonry as well as those that better enable that progression for those who demonstrate that commitment are positive steps. I am bit more cautious when discussing flexibility that we do not lose sight of, nor dilute the value proposition which Freemasonry has to offer.
Best wishes for our shared work together in continuing to build FMV as something which all Victorians are proud of.
Why don’t we negotiate discounts from certain businesses for being members, (e.g. 10% discounts on products etc) . Make our membership card more useful.
Questions and issues raised from one of the Strategic Plan Outreach Forums;
- Cost of becoming a member. The capitation fee. Need to be able to get the capitation fee waived for older members who have given many years service, but can no longer afford to pay the fees.
- How can we get to the stage where some members don’t pay or pay a lower capitation fee?
- Lodges need to take more responsibility of managing their members and providing them with assistance.
- Have we ever done an analysis of why people resign? Need to review the outcomes of why.
- Why doesn’t Grand Lodge provide the membership with a quarterly detailed Income and Expenditure statement, so that members have a better idea of where the money comes from and where it is spent. This would give members a better understanding of what happens with our fees.
- Should all members be able to vote, even if they don’t attend the Quarterly or one of the approved venues?
- It is not a wise organisation that has high deposits/investments, when it has dropping membership, and many members are leaving due to high fees.
- As the role of Almoner is so important, shouldn’t we pay him an expense allowance?
- It is not acceptable to exclude members for financial reasons.
- Lots more comments/discussions on how unfair NOT to be able to give a member an exemption from Grand Lodge capitation fees, where circumstances warrant, e.g. old and no longer attend Lodge.
- It is mostly financial reasons that cause members to resign.
- We are all volunteers, many are still upset over exclusion of some members, also obviously some PGM’s also disagree with this action.
Heard from a number of younger members at the forum who obviously had different needs and priorities.
- Younger members want better mentoring and education. Would FMV be prepared to pay more for better mentoring, knowledge, and leadership? Maybe this can in part be met through the Blue Lounge.
- The hub of what we do is in our individual Lodges and the individual membership, and we should look at these and not always blame Grand Lodge.
- We have just restructured Grand Lodge, are we going to restructure the Lodges, and how they work?
- We hear you say that you want the Lodges to be more flexible and independent rather than always turning to Grand Lodge, but Lodges (or some of the membership) are not prepared to change the way they work, until told.
- Why do we stop someone from taking office as soon as they are made a Master Mason? Why does it have to take 12 months from Entered Apprentice to Master Mason?
- The widows of members who have deceased seem to get lost and not looked after by the Lodges.
- Almoners need more assistance. We probably need to re-look at another almoner’s workshop).
- There are members of other orders who are not in the Craft, and there are many other members of other orders who are not active in the Craft and wouldn’t stay a member if they didn’t have to.
- Why don’t we negotiate discounts from certain businesses for being members, (e.g. 10% discounts on tyres etc) . Make our membership card more useful.
- One of the issues is the changed community environment. In the past, members would see other members regularly in the street at community events, and at work. Now you don’t come across other members except at Lodge.
- Lastly, the plan does not appear to include any reference to Masonic Education.
The average person has no idea what Freemasonry does for the general public how it can improve ones demeanour.
The average person has no idea what Freemasonry does for the general public how it can improve ones demeanour and it’s advantages. How it can build confidence and self esteem in the young man trying to make a name and future for himself?
The public need to know these facts. Without the need to divulge any “Secrets” with the advance in communication in the fields of Media and IT, would it not be feasible to produce a documentary outlining the roll of Freemasonry in today’s society. The benefits to the community of having our youth with some where to turn to, to improve their moral and self esteem is important.
Show the circumstance of our communications and installations of Grand Lodge, but advertise the fact on commercial television and inform people outside of Freemasonry.
It is our responsibility to assist new members to not only maintain their interest but develop a passion for learning.
I refer to page 11 of the Strategic Plan draft, and I offer the following suggestion for consideration. I have been concerned for sometime, in relation to the training of the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Masons. Following their admission into the Craft they must attend MAPs 1, 2 & 3, which is good and if Lodges have good mentors that is also beneficial, however if they are not supported by quality mentors to assist them, not only with rituals but their attitude and behaviour, i.e. their conduct, they are left stranded.
They cannot attend Lodges of Instruction as we must be Master Masons and above, so how do they learn? I firmly believe Entered Apprentices and Fellow Craft Masons require education in a manner that would stimulate their curiosity and persuade or induce their desire to progress in the Craft. The education must be carried out by brethren with the highest quality standards concentrating on ritual, ceremonial and the principles of the craft, i.e attitude and behaviour to enhance their conduct to strive to become gentlemen.
Grand Lodge covers those requirements but I consider many Lodges are not giving due consideration to assist new members to maintain their interest in the Craft. Many of us have seen candidates lose interest and leave and that could be for a variety of reasons but it is our responsibility to assist new members to not only maintain their interest but develop a passion for learning to try and achieve what the Grand Master is saying it is an organisation of “good men supporting each other, our families and the community”.
I have read with interest the Draft Strategic Plan 2017-2025, and would like to make the following observations.
- The language in the document needs to be in a format that all members across the board can digest and understand when it relates to the underpinning concepts. An example is the term “today’s man”, whereby many of the older members have interpreted that to mean “young men”, hence you are not gaining their attention, and in some cases perhaps their support.
- Some of the language within the Strategic Plan sounds like corporate speak, it does not go down well. Over 50% of our older members do not and will not have a computer, they are not engaged in our modern world of emails, broadcasts and tweets. Whose responsibility is it to ensure ongoing engagement of this group? I would say the individual Lodges should be proactive and print it off, give or post it to them. The lodges tend to say “it costs too much”!
- Lodges feel that decision making should be bottom up, and Guidance should be top down. The current perception is that decision making is top down and imposed.
- To help us understand what we can do to improve our compassion, we need to have some guidance or examples of what we can do. Some Lodges do great work, others have lost the principles of Brotherly love, Relief and Truth. Some examples.
- I have seen clicks of older and experienced brothers bullying groups who have new ideas and they will ensure they are not discussed at Meetings of General Purposes, or they stop the member(s) in their tracks by isolating them. Not very masonic.
- We need to engage with our Brothers´ families, when my wife came to help out in the South at large meeting, she was made to feel most unwelcome.
- For country Lodges in particular we need to engage with our new members, and get them involved in the Lodges at levels that their masonic journey will enable them to successfully participate and enjoy. I would also recommend that the 12 month waiting period following them being Raised to the Third degree, before they can take a position, be scrapped. Examples of engagement can be as simple as have them giving part of a lecture in the degree in which they are currently on their journey. Social events for the whole family, get them involved with lodge Charity work, fundraisers and visits to the sick and the Lodge widows.
- Avoid Grand Lodge becoming too top heavy with positions, especially for non-masons, it gives the impression of a them and us situation.
- If the members don’t feel they own the Strategic Plan, they will not embrace it, and it will only achieve long term success if it is driven by the members at a grass roots level.
- Under ‘Our Approach’, I make the following comments,
- Let’s use the Masonic Taskforce for more community support, style it on any of the current community organisations, have a pool of equipment, appoint a Taskforce Leader, whose role would be to engage members and respond on behave of FMV as required.
- I would remove the artificial barriers between City and Country, we in the country feel very much like the poor cousins.
- Harassment, bullying and disrespect is not just confined to our Brethren, it is also well known and practiced amongst our ladies. Most associations have ladies’ auxiliaries, have them meet and organise a program that is parallel to Lodge meetings, going out to dinner, talks on topic of interest, and whatever they can do to support and assist each other, especially supporting the widows.
- Human rights also must include the that rights without responsibility does not work. Freemasonry should be about building self-esteem not destroying it.
- Develop an electronic accounting system that can be used by all Lodges and is standard across Victoria. Develop templates for minutes, Meetings of General Purpose, subcommittee meetings etc.
- Develop Lodge and district Facebook sites, with district notices including information of Mark and Chapter meetings.
- The ritual work is the thing that makes us stand out in Victoria, let’s not wind it back!
- We need to engage with likeminded organisations if we are to grow, the Defence Force, Emergency Services, and Community Organisations. Let’s start to reach out more, especially at grass roots level. We have many recently returned serviceman in need of support, freemasonry did it following the first and second world war, why not now.
- Finally we need a review of the organisational structure, is it too big, too small, does it function at its optimal efficiency and finally what does it look like, how do all the part link together.
I say I am very excited at the direction FMV is taking.
Our Lodge has about 55 to 60 members. Probably only about 15 to 20 are regular attenders. Of the total membership I think 16 have email addresses. Of those who have email addresses, not all of us are experts on how to use a computer. That includes me.
About 8 to 10 are the brethren who run the Lodge. The same ones are on the committees, attend the working bees, assist at the Bunnings sausage sizzle and other community events during the year.
I would think we are similar to many Lodges.
On To Build the Brand for Today’s Man- Create and Conduct Quarterly Membership Surveys- can we have a question in that Survey along the lines of What have members done for their Lodge or to improve their Lodge in the last quarter?
On Develop a video/podcast series educating members about how to be the “Good Man”- One thing I try to do (and mostly achieve) is to do a random act of kindness each day. For example one simple one is to look out for an elderly person or a mum with kids who is struggling with their trolley and assist them by pushing the trolley for them, or simply by returning the trolley for them after they have unloaded it. Just a thought but it not only makes the person feel good but it also makes me feel good.
On Improve FMV head office to Lodge communications and relationships- Definitely. I know it is a very busy place and some of the staff are volunteers but it is very frustrating when emails are not answered and telephone calls are not returned.
On To Attract Members- Yes we must engage with other cultures. In our Lodge we have a fairly large Indian community. I’m sure if we could get some of them into Lodge then others would follow. Maybe we need material in those languages for distribution among them.
On Compassion and Philanthropy- We need to work with other organisations, like Lions, Rotary etc. in joint philanthropic activities.
Keep up the good work.
A couple of points struck me as being particularly relevant in the Strategic Plan;
- The Constitution needs to be changed – the Grand Master explained the South Australian system and I think this is looking in the right direction.
- The Grand Master said FMV donates about $2.5 million annually to charities in Victoria and the recipients are scattered far and wide. Whilst I have no doubt all the people and organisations are grateful for what they receive I don’t think this is giving the best result to FMV.
My personal opinion is that FMV should decide on ONE major charity and identify with that. Whether they are accident victims, cancer patients or any other sick child. If FMV became identified with one major hospital or specialty I’m sure we would benefit as much as the children and their families. Rather than give generously to many (from which we often receive little or no recognition), we should become synonymous with one.
It may be that of our $2.5 million, $2 million is given to our childrens charity and $500 given to some other organisations, although my preference would be to work for only the one.
FMV could announce the new arrangement with the nominated recipient, during the year publicity could be obtained by releasing stories of work done by the doctors, nurses or hospital, parents of affected children could be interviewed if appropriate. All this publicity would reflect on Freemasonry.
Whilst I am proud and happy to work for charities in the community, I would be happier if I knew we were all working to make the life of a sick child better than it was.
One of the many reasons we are losing young freemasons is we do not have an education media (programme) in the magazine or any other place.
We are then forced to do the MAP 1 2 and 3 programme or they cannot continue with their masonic career after each time they have completed those ceremonies. After the MAP 3 there is nothing educational to be involved with, and Lodges do not have proper education officers. Grand Lodge specified that all Lodge must have en education officer. These officers were picked because they were older masons who did not understand what freemasonry was about and therefore could not educate the younger members and they became dejected and left. This is a subject that needs looking into in great depth.
Another point is we have a library with restricted access and no place to park or time to research study if needed. I have been asking about this very subject for at least 2 years and no positive answer. There is no encouragement for people to educate themselves.
One of the main concerns is the high initial cost of first joining Freemasonry where the candidate has to outlay around $300 to Grand Lodge for his initiation fees and starter kit? Which includes in it a Square and compass badge, a Square and compass Car key ring, several information folders (which I believe are quite necessary) an A4 picture frame (for his Master Mason certificate which he may receive in around 12 months time?) These can be purchased at any cheap stores for around $5.
All of these are encased in a rather elaborate compendium folder (I query the purpose of this expense as when the necessary badges, folders, Frame, etc, are in time removed the compendium becomes quite useless as it is far too small to hold an apron.
He then has to pay his Lodge dues, which can run anywhere between $250 and $500. He then is up for a dinner suit which can cost between $300-$500 so all in all, he is staring at around $1000 on entry.
I would suggest initially to seriously consider dropping the compendium, the frame, but by all means include the pamphlets, badge, & key ring, etc, but also include a Masonic Tie.
Then we should consider his suit: Whilst I am one of ‘the old school’ we should consider ‘Today’s man’ where dinner suits may not be as in form as they were years back.
I believe the dress for entry should be a business suit and Masonic tie (which is in the package). However, when he indicates his intent to accept office, that is the time to request dinner suit. As many would be aware some Lodges amortise the $300 payable to FMV from their general fund. Great idea, but can prove disastrous in time to come.
From my own view the SalesForce system is going to prove in time another disaster as I have spoken to many Secretaries who, quite frankly, (myself included) hate the thing, and I believe in time will result in Lodges having enormous trouble in recruiting new Secretaries.
Freemasonry expect all Lodges to be able to complete the Ritual with a degree of excellence. A well delivered Ritual is a joy to listen to and really makes the evening when you are advancing candidates through the various degrees.
However, sometimes for attendance reasons of others you may not have a key team member – which can make a difference.
So what we have done is to twin with another Lodge in our building. So tomorrow night they have applied to move their meeting night to the same date as ours and we will all meet together and enjoy each others company. A couple of their members will do a couple of the Ritual charges & the rest will be done by out team.
It is a plus all around as we end up with really good Ritual for the candidate to experance and a South full of Brethren.
We might do an official visit to another Lodge & the same arrangements will apply.
It is not a process so we not not have to learn the Ritual but a way to share it together.
I am excited that we have a plan for the future and feel that it is tight where it needs to be and is open to interpretation and development in other areas.
I recently attended a talk on the plan at a local Lodge where I have come away with some concerns:
- Questions relating to flexibility at Lodge level were left unanswered. To some extent because they were specific and could not be answered until the Board decides on them. However there was a general approach of, “we will see what can be done”, rather than a positive response. I feel that one of the biggest hurdles Grand Lodge faces is inflexibility and a perceived need to control every detail. If we are to progress Lodges must be more able to make decisions without reference to restrictive rulings or seeking approval from the Grand Secretary
- I left with the impression that our future charitable donations are to be poured into one large charity to achieve greater levels of publicity. I fear that if this is done to the detriment of the smaller charities it will have a negative impact on society in general and particularly on those in our communities who rely on Freemasons to survive. Many of the local charities supported by Lodges and districts receive no government subsidies and little other community aid. In our district the Siblings Program at Interchange Outer East relies entirely on money from Freemasons to operate. Last year the support from the Foundation was reduced and could only be maintained by additional funds being raised by local Lodges. We make a huge difference in our communities and the best publicity we receive is always “word of mouth”. However many Lodges are becoming savvy about local publicity, websites and social media.
Overall, our new strategic plan is a step in the right direction. As long as we do something we will be well ahead of how we have operated in the past.
Freemasonry is a great thing and deserves to be respected and cherished by all who are part of it.
I have found the document very interesting and believe that it deals with the future very well as a plan.
I have found the document very interesting and believe that it deals with the future very well as a plan however its implementation poses a great challenge and will require a major change if we are to have unity and equality between Grand Lodge, Lodges and members. I hope it can be achieved.
My following comments are made on the basis that the plan is well prepared and the comments may represent an improvement.
The plan and the vision should make it clear that Freemasonry is about equality and should be available to all men who satisfy the entry qualifications. It is not to be limited to the rich or elite few.
Being an “optional” organization it is important that Grand Lodge and the lodge hierarchy both act as leaders rather than governors or directors. This has been an area of failure and is particularly important to have harmony between the generations if we want younger men involved.
It is also important that lodges have individuality rather than be a group of clones. This especially applies to the South.
The principles or values of freemasonry are very important to it having a future and in recent times the meaning of the values has become blurred and has led to disunity. I think that the principles need to be clear especially truth and moral values.
The plan proposes FMV Excellence awards. I am strongly opposed to this plan as it encourages elitism rather than equality. It is important that freemasons do their best and any recognition should be for endeavour rather than excellence.
The Lodge of Transition was started at a time when members were being lost as Lodges closed. It would be great if we didn’t need a Lodge of transition but with Lodges returning their warrants there is no organization to care for ex members. I currently have a number of ex freemasons at my church group for older men and they now have no contact with the craft.
The plan proposes that the BGP be business oriented. I believe that the key purpose of the BGP should be “For the Good of the Craft”. With the small board and the degree of confidentiality adopted there has been very little of the board’s operation which is known to the members although the recent policy of Richard of providing regular reports has been excellent.
While I am not confident that changes can be made I hope I am wrong and wish you well together with the others involved.
On reading the Strategic Plan, I was unimpressed with the tenor of the plan. In my opinion we are being pushed into a Rotary style organisation with the inference that this will prove a ‘panacea, for our Organisation.
I must strongly export you that we are not; our Organisation is a Men’s Fraternal Organisation designed to explore many sacred ideas as the secrets and mysteries of ancient Freemasonry. We are not Tin Shakers!!
The report has far too much emphasis on activities such as social and family activities which should rest on the periphery and not included as a vital part of Freemasonry.
As a third generation Freemason and Past Master on both sides of my Family I go to lodge for the ceremonies and not for the ladies nights and the like. Such ideas are being introduced as a solution to our long term survival.
In my opinion this report is dumbing down Freemasonry eliminating such things as mentioning the importance of a supreme being and other vital tenants. The authors however promote and stress the correct social mantras, that is, cultural diversity and harmony. In my opinion to succeed we must strengthen the Brand by not diminishing it.
I cannot imagine our competitors preparing for the future by lowering standards as a way to the future.
My suggestions to improve our image are:
1. Lodge meetings should be no longer than 2 hours of Masonic excellence, rituals and training involving Members.
2. All Visitors admitted in one group with minimal introductions. groups such as Past Master Teams can meet the Lodge Members before Lodge commences and then be admitted without fanfare.
3. Grand Lodge correspondence, minutes, Almoner reports and social matters should be sent with the summons by email or post prior to the meeting. Any queries can be easily addressed by the Worshipful Master and Secretary and discussed at the Committee of General Purposes.
4. In the South before dining, the Worshipful Master can welcome all the Visitors and receive responses. this allows foe relaxed uninterrupted dining in a time efficient way.
In summary I believe the documents need more work to become a Tome for addressing the future needs of our August Fraternity.
If a training course is being introduced online what facility is being prepared for those who do not have online access?
On page 7 of the draft Strategic Plan reference is made to Lodges appointing a Lodge Engagement Officer. This is the only reference to an officer, the title of which has never been heard before in Freemasonry Victoria.
On the new Freemasons Victoria website there is now a Training Course for Engagement Officers.
The following points emerge as a consequence:
- The Engagement Officer was introduced as a concept in the Draft Strategic Plan. How can a concept be adopted and implemented prior to the Draft being accepted?
- Every Lodge appointment is made by authority of the Worshipful Master. When will the Worshipful Masters be collectively advised of what an Engagement Officer is, the criteria and qualifications for appointment and the duties of the office?
- Training courses for Wardens seem to be a thing of the past yet we are introducing a new training course. Why can’t Lodge priorities be reflected in the training programs?
- If a training course is being introduced online what facility is being prepared for those who do not have online access? Grand Lodge has created an impression that it is rapidly becoming city-centric, media-focussed and oblivious to communications difficulties in rural areas. Worse, the rural crisis is forcing families to prioritise their spending of the shrinking family dollar. No-one in this critical situation is going to waste limited cash resources on unreliable electronic facilities when other media will suffice.
Implementation of draft policies before the draft is formally adopted tells the cynics that review of the draft is a wasted exercise; the policy is in place and being implemented now.
Introduction of a new training program when current courses cannot be implemented reflects lack of awareness of training needs and inability to respond to Lodge needs.
The drive for electronic everything within Masonic circles is alienating too many of the brethren, especially those in the country. There is no demonstration of any empathy for the increasing sense of isolation of those who live in rural areas.
I base my observations on experience, not intuitive reactions:
- ten years membership of the Board of General Purposes
- four years as Grand Superintendent of Membership during which time I often ran as many as three Open Nights weekly
- thirty years in tertiary education including in third world countries
- postgraduate qualifications in educational media
- qualifications in Management Systems auditing.
This is one of my ideas to try and encourage our members to attend Lodge meetings each month and inform those who are non attending members the activities of the Lodge.
Some years ago Grand Lodge issued a direction that all resignations of members were to be referred to Grand Lodge who were to contact those Brethren and I assume to obtain the reasons for their resignation (a good idea) to my knowledge there was never any feedback on the outcome of there inquiry? What are the reasons for their resignation?
Rotary, Lions, and other Service Clubs do not have a “Joining Fee” to join their organisations – why do we?
Instead of wearing formal dress for every meeting why not adopt a coat and tie dress (optional) for most occasions.
Award a monthly Masonic acknowledgement recognition for a member (for some special performance or event) to encourage involvement.
Channel 31 does not exist outside the Metropolitan area What about the Country areas? Why don’t we advertise?
Appoint a Publicity Officer for each District
How do we get new Members? Ask, send out an invitation, appoint a membership Committee, put up fliers in Tafe Colleges, Senior Schools and public places, Advertise open night evenings, publicise local achievements, have regular contacts with Local Council, Police, Community Services, Hospitals. Plan special activities in the Community (disadvantaged children).
Build awareness, Encourage interaction with other organisations.
Follow-up resignations and ascertain their reasons for resigning.
Does the Strategic Plan address:-
– Helping Lodges in planning a succession plan for the next five years?
– Ensuring all members pay their dues on time without follow up?
– Ensuring a higher attendance at Lodge meetings?
– Will the age group 60-79 remain stable so that we keep the experience?
Are you aware that there is a very similar Logo to FMV? EMV (Energy Management Victoria)