Joseph P. Hill, Chairman
We are Catholic Gentlemen who have sworn Oaths to God, our Pope, Bishops, Priests and Religious to remain the Strong Right Arm of Holy Mother Church. We acclaim our Fealty to Her; we seek through the power of the Rosary and prayer the strength to remain true and loyal sons.
“Remember, personal contact is the Key”
Every Knight, regardless of the circumstances, deserves the dignity and consideration afforded by our Order, faith, Christian charity and belief in the Holy Catholic Church. It is important that every member feel he is a NEEDED, IMPORTANT, INVOLVED and a CONTRIBUTING MEMBER of our organization. Through our united efforts to retain current members as well as recruiting new ones, we will keep our Order strong and growing.
The Foundation of our Catholic faith is rooted in the Holy Scriptures. We seek its clarity when we are uncertain. I draw your attention to Luke 15: 3 -7 (the parable of the lost sheep) and to John 10: 1-17, Matthew 9: 36, Mark 6: 34 in which Jesus explains His role as Shepherd. In John 21: 15 – _17, Jesus transfers the care of his flock to Peter the Founder and Cornerstone of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. So, if we Brother Knights are to also be Apostles like Peter, we must be willing to be Worthy Shepherds who WORK to keep our Brother Knights in the Order. We help them to know our voice by calling each Brother at least once per quarter. In this way these Brothers can continue to truly be part of the right arm of Holy Mother Church, the Knights of Columbus.
We need Worthy Shepherds to preserve our membership and seek our Brothers that have lost their way. How many Past Grand Knights wonder, “What is my future in the Council”? The many say, “ I have held all the Officers Duties, I have made my contribution, I have a legacy that I am proud of, and my work is done.’ I humbly suggest their work is not done and will never be done. There is always more that can be done to assure the success of our Order. Past leaders are more needed than ever before. We need Worthy Shepherds (Retention Chairs) in every council and we need them to begin working immediately.
Remember, as in the Gospels of old, when the Shepherd left the flock to seek the lost sheep, He left his flock in the care of his trusted Apostles (and he left it for us as His Disciples in Mission also). Let us ask our Past Grand Knights to continue their leadership by diligently fulfilling the role of Worthy Shepherd.
- Appoint a Retention Program Chairman” and treat him with the respect of any Officer of your Council. They should be either a Past Grand Knight and or former Council Membership Director who was strong. The Council Retention Chairman Cannot be the Financial Secretary, Grand Knight or the Council Membership Director. The important mission of retention needs to be separate and assigned to a committee of sufficient size to reasonably perform the task of contacting each member.
- Have the newly appointed Worthy Retention Chairman form a Retention Committee with one committeeman for every ten members of the Council. These can be Knights who hold other offices or duties but should not include the Financial Secretary, Grand Knight or Membership Chairman who have their own important duties, which must be their primary focus.
- The Worthy Retention Chairman and his Committee should meet with “ALL of the council members with a focus on those members who have not attended at least one meeting in the prior three months. They should call the member and make an appointment to stop by for coffee or a simple visit “in person”. If they cannot be reached by phone to make the appointment, the committeeman should consider driving to the last known address. Knock on the door and ask to be allowed in and pray the Rosary or have coffee and hear what is going on with the Brother. (Emails and letters will follow later, but this first meeting must be in person.)
- The Worthy Retention Chairman will deliver a simple, monthly report to the Council stating the committee’s quarterly progress. The goal is to have a personal meeting or a phone call visit with 100% of our members once each quarter. Yes, Gentlemen, we should start immediately and contact 100% of our members focusing on those that have not been at the past three meetings. Once you know the status of the Brothers that have not been in attendance, an action plan can be worked out for each and every member. Ask your Pastor to help find those whose contact information is no longer current, or request assistance you’re from Field Agent and you can also utilize the 4th degree Assembly Faithful Comptroller if the member is in the 4th degree There are also researchers on the State Retention committee well versed in finding people via the Internet. Please feel free to enlist their services.
- Consider planning a special event (Pasta Night at the Parish Hall or Pancake Breakfast to welcome our Brothers back) and use the proceeds to help forgive past dues of those that truly are in financial need. Find ways to interest and retain Brother Knights in your council.
The District Deputy should pay particular attention to the Weekly Conservation Report published by Supreme that lists Brothers who are being proposed for suspension. The Retention Chairman will contact the Chapter Presidents, District Deputies, and Grand Knights of the Councils that file a Notice of Intent to Suspend. These leaders will be asked the following questions:
- Is there a Worthy Retention Chairman and Retention Committee for the council?
- Was every Brother proposed for suspension personally contacted by phone or in person?
- When was the call made? By whom?
- Did the Worthy Retention Chairman and or his committee use the Shepard’s Caller Script for the Conversation Reports following this section when making the call?
- Why is the Brother being proposed for suspension?
- Was the District Deputy and State Retention Chairman properly notified when the Notice of Intent to Suspend was sent to Supreme?
- Was the Brother offered a chance to hand write a message of resignation so that he could retain his years of service when he files for readmission?
- Did the Council offer dues forgiveness for previous years and only request payment for the current year?
- Is the Council offering charity to Brothers who are suffering financial hardship?
- Is your Financial Secretary filing a medical exemption form for those Brothers who are disabled?
It is highly suggested that each Council adopt a policy of forgiving past years dues if it was not collected. Resolve to collect only the current year and or 1-year pass for delinquent Brothers and ask them on their honor as a Catholic gentleman to not fall behind again. Remind these Brothers that they can pay quarterly to make it easier to afford. Be Brotherly – forgive!
Retention is every bit as important as recruitment and warrants the same amount of attention and energy as identifying new members and inducting them into our Order. If our Order is to grow, not only must we recruit new members but also retain the ones we have. Once a member has joined, how do we engage him, retain him, and encourage him to grow in his involvement and leadership? Currently, for every two new members that join our Order, one existing member is suspended. Why then, once having joined, do members become inactive and leave? This trend must be reversed, and we need to understand the circumstances that motivate men to drop out.
The retention effort begins when the Council Admission Committee interviews candidates and potential members. Remember a lesson from the Formation (2nd) Degree. Particular emphasis is placed not only on recruiting new members, but also in the quality of those recruited. Potential members should be active in their Parish, exhibit interest in the Knights of Columbus and a willingness to participate. In many cases, the Admission Committee interview is the first formal process that potential candidates are exposed to, and a place where lasting impressions are formed. This interview becomes the anchor point from which that candidate determines how accepted and comfortable he will feel upon becoming a Knight in your council. Make this moment about him and his family and becoming a part of the family of Knights. Find out his interests and tell him about your council and how he might make it better. According to the Supreme Charter Constitution Laws, the Grand Knight of a council is to appoint an Admission Committee consisting of 7 members. Reports of the Admission Committee on candidates and potential members be a part of every meeting.
Every completed Form 100 must show the name and signature of a Brother Knight who, as the Proposer, has accepted being the “Sponsor or Mentor” of the new prospective Knight.
Besides the Admission Committee the proposer is the single most important person involved in the
“Retention” of our new Knight. The Supreme Council provides a free pamphlet #4636 describing the
“Duties of a Proposer.” When a sponsor signs the Form 100, he should be given a copy of the pamphlet so he will fully know his responsibilities. In Summary here are a few of the “Proposer’s” duties:
- Bring the Candidate to his Exemplification (either online or in person)
- Bring him to council meetings – Introduce him to his Brother Knights make him feel comfortable and at home at a council meeting – explain meeting procedures and protocols
- Bring him to council functions; get him involved in council activities. The book ‘These Men They Call Knights” can also be helpful. Does he like to make pancakes, or BBQ, etc.? Giving a new Knight responsibility and immediately assigning him a particular job or task goes a long way in making him feel like an important part of the council – an involved Brother is a happy Brother!
- Work with the Membership Chairman to bring him to the next Exemplification (either online or in person) to finish his degrees if he has not done so.
- In many councils. It I common to have two of three” Top Recruiters” sponsoring several candidates at a time. In this situation, the Grand Knight might consider appointing others in the council to mentor each new member in order to assure a one-on-one experience.
The Shining Armor Award is an invaluable tool in helping new members become active and engaged. Described previously in this section, the Shining Armor Award program is administered, with minor variations, both through the California State Council and Supreme.
In addition to the programs described above, The Supreme Council publishes several documents and brochures helpful in retention efforts.
The documents, along with a number of membership retention strategies, are outlined on the Supreme website at: https://www.kofc.org/en/members/membership/member-retention/index.html#/
No matter how hard we try, there will be those who don’t pay their bills. Move away and leave no forwarding address or, for whatever reason, decide the Knights of Columbus is not for them. By far this makes up the largest group that is submitted for suspension. It is this group where we must focus our attention. How do we assure that members, both old and new, remain interested, active and engaged? The next step is the responsibility of the “Retention Committee.”
The Council Financial Secretary should not be a retention committee of one. It is important that a senior member or officer of the council contact every member in arrears personally in order to investigate their situation. The Grand Knight should appoint one “distinguished” member of the Council for every ten men in the Council to serve as the Worthy Shepherd and the Apostles. This Retention Committee should include the Deputy Grand Knight and council trustees or other PGKs of the Council. The committee charge is two-fold:
- Contact members quarterly to build Fraternity and then contact those who are inactive or in arrears prior to suspending them.
- Having discovered reasons why members are becoming inactive or letting their membership lapse, devise and suggest new programs to remedy the situation.
There are several tools at a council’s disposal that are helpful in easing the burden for those with extenuating circumstance, or who are having a hard time paying Council dues.
- Knights with a medical disability may be eligible for a Disability Waiver from Supreme, suspending all State and Supreme per capita assessments. The council can apply for the waiver using Supreme Form #1831, available on the Supreme web.
The form must be certified by both the Grand Knight and Financial Secretary and include a doctor’s note or some proof of the medical disability. The disability waiver must be renewed prior to December 31st each year thereafter and can be kept in effect indefinitely for as long as the disability exists.
- Elderly or senior members living on a fixed retirement income may be eligible for Honorary or Honorary Life Membership, depending upon their age and years of continuous service. Those 65 years or older with 25 or more consecutive years of service in the Knights of Columbus are eligible for Honorary Membership, relieving State and Supreme assessments and reducing their council dues to a minimal rate (usually $10.00 per year). Those 70 years or older with 25 years of consecutive service are relieved of all state and supreme assessments and exempt from payment of all council dues. Supreme automatically issues Honorary and Honorary Life membership cards, but it is important that the Financial Secretary review the entire roster to assure that those eligible have been so recognized with council billing notices adjusted accordingly.
- In matters of extreme financial hardship and/or extraordinary circumstances, the council, at its discretion, may waive the dues for a particular member found to be in distress or difficulty or another Brother may volunteer to pay for him.
Regardless of the method or situation, it is important the Retention Committee investigate and report the circumstances of every member in arrears and recommend a suitable course of action or solution for each one.
The procedures for collecting member dues and the conditions for suspension are clearly set forth in both the newly revised Financial Secretary Handbook (Publication #1410) and the Charter Constitution Laws of our Order. It is vital that these procedures be followed to assure that every member is treated equally. It is not our intent to repeat these procedures here.
- Obviously, this is a long and rigorous process, allowing many opportunities for personal contact, accommodation and problem resolution. As a church, family and fraternal organization, we owe it to our members to exert every effort in the retention process, especially during times of hardship or financial difficulty. We are an Order based on Charity; let us NEVER drop a Brother in need of charity!
The state council has a program to find a lost brother is you cannot find him either due to a bad address via returned mail or you tried a personal contact. All you need to do is send the information to the State Retention Chairman via email on an excel spreadsheet (preferred) click in the small logo and it will bring you to a spreadsheet you can use. Of you can send the information on a word document or any google form. All I will been is the following:
- First and Last name
- Address one file
- Date of Birth and age
- Phone number on file
I will then send the information back to you via a excel spreadsheet.
Remember, personal contact is the key. Every Knight, regardless of the circumstance, deserves the dignity and consideration afforded by our Order, faith, Christian charity and belief in the Holy Catholic Church. It is important that every member feel needed, important, involved and a contributing member of our organization. Through our united efforts to retain current members as well as recruiting new ones, we will keep our Order strong and growing.
Fraternally,Joseph P. Hill PGK, PFN, FDD, PCP