The Question of Retention – Thelema RVA

July’s Local Body Spotlight is not about or from a local body. It is from a Camp-in-Formation (CiF) Organizer who has a CiF that uses the name Thelema RVA in the Richmond, Virginia area.

Sr Capella writes about how they retain people in their region.

 

The Question of Retention – Thelema RVA, July 2017

What works in one group might work in another group. Therefore, feel free to use what works for you and discard what you feel does not.

  • Retention seems to be a formula equal to the number of people we reach x a factor of willingness x a factor of ability.

We review who we have not retained in order to understand what we need to do differently. So we looked at feedback from those who have departed or become inactive. We found the following:

  • About 50% of people who did not continue to come around were “Not Free” (e.g. not able to come due to distance, relocation, schedule, family, relocation, family/dependent intervention, car trouble or busy with school/work/family or a personal ordeal)
  • The rest were a combination of the following (mostly Not Willing):
  1. Trouble Working in Groups (as a result of mental health issues and/or personal prejudices)
  2. False Expectations (they did not find what they were looking for either due to a misunderstanding of Thelema or Crowley, or assuming an “anything goes” environment, assuming someone other than themselves is responsible for their learning or progress or assuming magick does not work because they did something once and it failed.)

Improving Retention

Expectation Setting

  • OTO Grand Lodge FAQ – reviewed with all joiners. Reviewing this singular document up-front has nearly eliminated misunderstandings.
  • Thelema RVA House Rules – reviewed with all joiners. Since implementation, there has been a much lower instance of behavioral issues.
  • Education Committee’s Classes on “Thelema Basics” and “Thelema Ethics” taught to all newcomers as one of their first classes.   This has been another key to reduce misunderstandings.
  • Crowley info added to our website.   This has helped with untangling individuals from misinformation they have received elsewhere. Hoping this will also help members manage any issues with misinformed intervening family members.
  • “Ticket System” employed whereby joiners are given a menu of classes on color-coded Tickets to choose from. In so doing, the approach became one of Self-Direction. Note: Members can also choose from non-Ticket items if the topic is appropriate.
  • Have Members take turns running the business meeting thereby deciding what goes on the calendar for the upcoming month. This is another approach to Self-Direction.
  • Do some Daily Ritual at every meeting. (Will, LBRP, Resh…) When folks say that the magick does not work, I say “are you doing your daily rituals?”…the issue here is with the proficiency of magician, not with the magick.

To correct Trouble Working In Groups (Much Improved)

  • The House Rules (6 Items) found in our Program Guide clarify acceptable behavior as well as outline the corrective action options employed in cases of an infraction.
  • Participation Guide clarifies schedule flexibility which may be needed as folks work through people-issues.
  • Keep a flow of communication open in order to receive the sage wisdom of others: Kaaba info, Mentor, other body masters, etc..   Problem-solve.
  • The Education Committee’s Class on “Thelema Ethics” class has helped tremendously in this area.
  • Keeping an open dialogue with members and ask them what is bothering them and ask them if they think the issue is themselves or the other person. Encouraging a little healthy introspection is always good.
  • Personal Alchemy classes help with driving the focus towards introspection / internal locus of control.

Various Forms of “Not Free” (Work-In-Progress)

  • The Personal Alchemy classes are what helped me through my ordeals, and may help others bounce back from a hit in their life (in the category of relationship, job, health issues, etc.). (As per the Book of the Law the ordeals are unwritten and the gross must pass through fire).
  • Referring individuals to OTO Bodies or Thelema Groups near them is a Distance Option.
  • OTO US GL correspondence@ email is another Distance Option.
  • By Appointment Option for Saturday 1:1 classes if they cannot make Monday night class.
  • OFF-SITE SELF-ORGANIZE & SELF-FACILITATE OPTION is available for folks who want to step up and teach a class or facilitate a discussion, activity or social on dates & times other than the Monday night class.
  • The Participation Guide has helped folks understand they can come and go as they please and show on a weekly basis, monthly basis or drop-in basis. They can also pursue the OTO degrees on an annual basis, which is ideal for some folks who are just too busy with their lives to commit to much else.

Written by Sr Capella

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U.S. Grand Lodge or of O.T.O.

Membership Incentives

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

In Liber CI:

44. The first and greatest of all privileges of a Brother is to be a Brother; to have accepted the Law, to have become free and independent, to have destroyed all fear, whether of custom, or of faith, or of other men, or of death itself. In other papers the joy and glory of those who have accepted The Book of the Law as the sole rule of life is largely, though never fully, explained; and we will not here recapitulate the same.”

In 2007 U.S.G.L. adopted a strategic plan for implementing our vision and mission along core Thelemic values. One objective was to support existing local body growth. One strategy for achieving this was to “Educate local body officers regarding use of local body membership incentives”. This task was assigned to the Kaaba Committee and for several years, this was offered at Kaaba Colloquium. It was eventually retired as the message seemed to have permeated our culture.

Yet this topic is important enough that we wish to bring attention to it again by posting it as an essay to the Electoral College blog.

Why did we need this? Because there is an ongoing initiative to encourage all members to belong to and support their local bodies. This is not about bringing in new members, who generally accept dues policies and training programs as part of our system, but rather retaining older members as we move in a more organized direction, with the ultimate goal of fulfilling Crowley’s vision for spreading the Law of Thelema, in addition to, or as part of, doing our own wills.

Individual leaders in the Order understand this, but how do we communicate this in such a way as to retain and interest those older members? Prior to the formation of U.S.G.L., most local bodies had no dues structure and once it started to become custom, it took a number of years to roll out. Some local bodies still have trouble collecting dues and some members who have been around for awhile, chafe at the need to pay dues and don’t think we need to leave the living rooms or aspire to greater visibility in society. We must therefore examine what motivates our members to bring them on board.

Those of you who have attended Treating Workers Well at Kaaba Colloquium know that we discuss one method to examine our membership’s motivations for service, defining three types of workers in our Order: lovers, barterers, and special interests.

Lovers will join the body because they are called to our Order, believe in its goals and trust the leadership, or simply because they take their oaths seriously. For some of us, it was enough that Frater Sabazius X° asked us to join our local bodies and pay dues. For other lovers, the success of the Order is enough.

Special interests can be enticed pretty easily by giving them permission to do the work they are called to in exchange for their name on the membership roll.

Barterers are another story and here we must be careful to treat them well and make them welcome, but not to encourage a value based relationship.

Three Main Types of O.T.O. Membership

  • Lay Affiliation for non initiates who have an interest in the E.G.C. and the work of the local body and want to support that work. Often pays a lesser fee in a dues structure.
  • Initiate Affiliation for those who live over 100 miles away who wish to support the work you are doing. If there is a local body in their area, hopefully they are belong to it.
    Minervals may fall into this affiliate category, since they are not full members of the Order until their Lustration and often pay less in dues.
  • Full Membership for those who wish to take an active and often vocal role in the running of the local body. This level should include all local initiates of the first degree or above. Members pay full fee in a dues structure, outside of hardship considerations.

Incentivizing O.T.O. Membership

We did an informal poll of 20 masters and past masters of highly developed Oases and Lodges, and they, like we, worried that incentivizing membership can lead to value based activity.

Membership should not be contingent on prizes and takeaways, this encourages members to ask “what am i getting for my money? Do I pay $500 (or more) per year to get a couple newsletters and admission to classes for free or an email with the body’s name in it?”

This is the wrong way to think about things. This comparison will always be unfavorable because the true benefits of membership are extrinsic to these incentives.

Do people pay $200 to PBS for a tote bag? No, they pay so they can support the mission of the Public Broadcasting Corporation and hear NPR every morning on the way to work. We pay dues to support the mission to help individuals to discover their true nature in a free society. The member’s question should never be “what do I get for my money”, but instead, “how can I help?”

However, there are certain benefits of belonging to a local body that can be emphaized by officers and which can be divided into two categories:

3 Tangibles and 8 Intangibles of O.T.O. Membership

Tangibles

  1. Access to and ability to participate in our Mysteries, such as the Initiations and Gnostic Masses (and certificates that mark these milestones)
  2. Member Discounts on event attendance and initiations such as at some local bodies where most events are free to members and special events. Or, for dues paying members, waiving the G.T.G. approved 20% add on to local initiation fees (due to the expense of doing them in your region)
  3. Access to the resources of the local body: having a temple, private temple use, library access, etc., also classes, lectures, workshops, seminars, and special events.

Intangibles

  1. Membership – This is extremely important all by itself. To be an accepted member of a group of people you have chosen is something that nearly all humans desire at some level. It is built into our psyches. One of the theories that attempts to explain the high rate of anger and depression in modern society cites the now common lack of a sense of community and membership.
  2.  Fulfilling the request of Grand Master Sabazius
  3. A voice in the community and the ability to help guide the direction of the local body.
  4. Fraternity – A support group of like-minded individuals at various places on the same initiatory path you are, who have experienced or are experiencing the same ordeals you are.
  5. The growth and transformative process catalyzed by our initiations.
  6. Hospitality- that warm, welcoming feeling of being at home, in the place where you belong. This is so important for new guests and members that we give a talk at Kaaba on this in the developing body track.
  7. Responsibility – what is the reward for great work? More work. Membership grants the right to serve in leadership or administrative roles, if qualified and so called.
  8. Recognition and appreciation for their work, whether it be a one-time task or an officer celebrating three years in their office, we all crave recognition for our work, even if that is not why we do the work.

The greatest incentive for membership is providing all comers with the best possible O.T.O. experience and fostering the pursuit of their individual will, while showing them that the furthering of the Order is essential to bringing about the freedom to pursue this to the greatest number of people.

Do you want to be a free man or woman standing in a herd of sheep or standing in the fellowship of other free men and women?

Love is the law, love under will.