When I first became the field agent for Barney Gonyea Council 7109 in Safety Harbor, Fla., in 2012, I noticed a huge disparity. The parish, Espiritu Santo, had almost 5,000 registered families, yet the council only had approximately 250 members.
I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way to reach these parishioners and to let them know about all the good works the Knights of Columbus and the council are doing there.”
When I asked the members about their current recruiting efforts, it was apparent that they had a very basic approach to membership recruitment. They were only doing a recruitment drive once or twice a year, at which they set up an information table after Mass in the back of the church and handed out informational flyers. This method brought in about five members per year.
This was when I first approached the council about conducting an open house at the church. I explained that the reason most men don’t join the Knights of Columbus is due to a lack of knowledge about what we do for the Church, the community and families.
I explained what would happen during the open house: As their field agent, I would conduct a presentation about the K of C, as well as provide food and refreshments for attendees. The other council members simply needed to schedule the event, advertise it in the church bulletin, set up a First Degree ceremony for the week following the open house, and hand out some invitations. I advised them to make the invitation personal; it could not be handed out to all the parishioners after Mass. I have found in my 10 years of experience with the Knights that this was the best way to get people to attend.
The very first open house that we held at Espiritu Santo had 16 prospective Knights and their families in attendance. Twenty members of the council and the pastor also came, and they all wore their council polo shirts. Of the 16 prospective members, 12 attended the First Degree the following week, and the remaining four joined the very next month.
It was such a huge success that the council asked if we could do it once a quarter. By the end of the year, every council in my area was hosting at least two open houses a year. Within four years, Council 7109 had grown from 250 members to more than 450 members.
If you have not yet discussed holding an open house at your church with your local field agent, now is the time. Contact your agent today.
Live in the Sarasota, Fla., area and have questions about K of C insurance?
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Originally published in Knightline.
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