I’m Proud to be a Freemason!
I’m Proud of who we are!
I’m Proud of what we do!
Who we are is you! Thank you all for having confidence in me to be the leader of our Fraternity! I promise I will try my best to make you Proud and to make your Masonic experience as great as possible. I will not be doing it alone, as no one could. I have an amazing team of extremely talented men serving you as your Grand Lodge Leadership team. We look forward to serving you.
At Annual Communication on Saturday morning, I started by bringing the delegates up to speed on what your Grand Lodge Leadership Team is doing to improve Wisconsin Freemasonry. The following are highlights from that conversation and words from our team.
“Some of you know this, some of you don’t, but I want to lay out what the recipe is in the kitchen. What your Grand Lodge Leadership team has been doing for the last several years and what the plan forward is. I have an unbelievable team of leadership officers that have served before me, and that are serving with me now, that have made this all possible. Several years ago, the Grand Lodge leadership team developed a Strategic Plan. It’s been posted on the web site for many, many years. We work on this plan on a regular basis, narrowing it down, making it the correct plan for this amazing organization. We had to build a plan to work off, we had to build a foundation, to lay a cornerstone. That’s exactly what we did. That plan is based off three principles – Membership, Brotherly Love, and Education.
Step 1. Rebuild the website. We had to build something that the public could access for information, a way to open the “virtual door” to Freemasonry and that is our website, www.wimasons.org. We know it’s not perfect and we’re in the process of making it better but, we rebuilt it because it is our dominant tool that we drive people to. Not only us as Masons but also the world.
Step 2. Recreate relevance with the public. We knew for us to go public we needed an identity. Proof of our good works. I’m Proud of what we do! That’s where the Fire Suppression Tools came in. For years we’ve done great work with defibrillators. They are great, fantastic tools. Unfortunately, most of them went out without even a Square and Compass on them which is just terrible. Branding is key for us. We have money in the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation restricted to medical uses.
FYI, we don’t have much, less than 5%, that is unrestricted. Therefore, the Acts of Kindness program is once again the Grand Masters appeal. We’ve got to build up that unrestricted portion. More exciting news on that elsewhere in this newspaper…
The money in the restricted medical fund could be used to purchase protection equipment, aka the fire suppression tools. The purpose of the tools is to give us relevance with the public. We must prove to the good men of Wisconsin, that we are relevant. I misspoke last year on this stage, I said you cannot select unless you recruit. The recruit word is a bad word. Relevant. We must be relevant to select. The whole concept was to create a public buzz about Freemasonry. Putting those scripts together to help Lodges present them appropriately with media coverage was key to getting the word out to the people of Wisconsin. The men that we want to approach. Those men need to know who we are and what we do.
Step 3. Build the infrastructure. We had to put a plan and people in place for contacting and processing these “leads.” A database software tool was put in place because we needed accountability for tracking and following these men through our processes. We understood our strength is you. Therefore, we wanted the relationship to start with a Mason. We have 13 District Membership Representatives who answer questions, perform some initial vetting, and then pass viable leads on to the Lodges. I would also encourage your Lodge to have a Lodge Membership Representative.
Step 4. Drop the hammer. On September 1st we launched an awareness campaign for Wisconsin Freemasonry that has reached tens of thousands of men in Wisconsin. These ads provide a path for men to connect with our Fraternity. We’ve done a ton of work on social media. I think I got 500+ Facebook posts last night alone. Clearly our social media is off and running. We have ten semi-trucks being wrapped up. Giant 53-foot moving billboards! You’ll see more of that, you’ll see billboards, ads, movie trailers, lawn signs, etc… You’ll see things like that as we continue to strive to become more relevant with the public.
Step 5. You decide. I encourage you to think of these leads as men who chose to knock on your Lodge’s “virtual door” instead of the physical one. You should treat them the same way as you would any stranger who comes to your Lodge expressing interest. Some may turn out to be great candidates, and others you may choose not to pursue. The choice is 100% yours and the process you’ll have them follow is exactly the same it’s always been – they just found you a different way. Who is right for your culture? This is not about recruiting, it’s about you selecting who is right for your culture. Your Membership committee will help you fill the funnel, along with your individual efforts. Your job is to select.
This membership initiative program has had great results! It should make you feel good about who we are and about being relevant, but it also has helped us grow our Fraternity. Over the last 10 months, the Grand Lodge ads have generated some pretty outstanding results! Over 1,200 men have “knocked on our virtual door” and interestingly over 800 of those leads said that they don’t personally know any Masons. As of today, we have conferred 60% more Master Mason degrees than this point last year. I was hoping to have our net membership number positive for Most Worshipful Gary by the Annual Communication. We’re really, really, close. We will be positive very soon. FYI, the number this year, my goal, is “1,000”, plus a thousand good quality men belonging to our Fraternity that you and your Lodge selects. Being bigger does not make us better but, it does allow us to have more of an impact.
Membership is a 3-legged stool requiring retention, restoration, and relevance. No one from your leadership team will ever suggest “lowering standards”. Period. Make good choices. Retain your Brothers by adding value. We will have a substantial focus on education this year. It makes us better men to learn and internalize our lessons. Be active in your communities. Good men enjoy having a positive impact. Restore those that you want back by reaching out to them and asking them to come back. I was not active for over 10 years. It took one man, one Mason to bring me back to activity. You could be the one man. Please reach out.
I’ve said this many times and it’s very, very true. Most Worshipful Gary’s message of “Love ya Brother” was exactly the right message at exactly the right time. We had to have a message that reminded people of what we do as Masons. We go to Lodge. We go to events together. We spend time together. Computers are fine, virtual meetings are fine but, we’ve got to be together. There is nothing more powerful then shaking a hand and giving a hug to your Brother. “Love ya Brother” is exactly the right message at exactly the right time.
Further, you’re going to reminded of the Ashlar award. The Ashlar award is a very powerful tool without question. Remember, the new are coming because they want mentors. They want Brothers, they want friends. We have a program laid out. Follow the program, that’s why they’re coming. If you follow the program, you’ll have those results that you want for your Lodge. The Ashlar award being another key of that Brotherly Love element. Freemasonry is about you. It’s about your impact. It’s about making good men better. Be a mentor.
You don’t join Masonry, you become a Mason. You’re going to see a lot of new education releases this year. There are two sides of education to me.
I’ve got to get the newer people that have just “joined” to “become”, there is a new series of three-minute education pieces designed to be read in Lodge. An example of the topics would be the tools that we have as Masons. How are they relevant in Masonry and how the is tool and it’s lessons relevant in your personal life? How do they make you a better father, a better husband, a better Brother?
The other side of education that you’re going to hear about is the advanced side. The deep dive, the hard-core esoteric stuff that we all love to learn. The lessons of Masonry. Have you seen these podcasts and videos yet? Worth a look, for sure. Just sign on to our website and take a look. Improve yourself in Masonry!
That’s the plan as it stands, now it’s time to shout! It’s time to tell the people of Wisconsin that we are relevant. You should be extremely proud to be a Freemason. There is no better organization built on better principals in this world. We’re not only the greatest Fraternity in the world, but we are also the greatest organization in the world. It is time that Wisconsin knows that. Everybody will do it differently. Some of you will do it while shouting from the mountain tops. Some of you will do it by wearing a shirt, a pin, a hat, or an emblem on your car. And some you of will do it, as our Membership Chair says, by just being a good guy in your community. I don’t care how you do it, but our communities need to see that we are relevant.”
I’m Proud to be a Freemason! – You should be too!!
I’m Proud of who we are!
I’m Proud of what we do!
Paul T. Tourville, Grand Master