A Grand Master addresses the subject...
While visiting a Lodge I heard the Worshipful Master ask for ideas concerning fundraisers for their Lodge. I was very tempted to blurt out, “Raise your dues!” We need to get away from fundraisers to pay our Lodge expenses. Instead, we need to know how much our dues need raising in order to cover the Lodge expenses and then have some extra on hand. Fundraising should always be for special events such as assisting a member in distress or someone in the community. Fundraising can also be to purchase needed equipment or furnishings around the Lodge. However, it should never be to pay the Lodge’s routine expenses. Our paychecks are what we use to pay our personal expenses and in like manner, our dues, which are the Lodge’s paychecks, need to pay our Lodge's expenses.
I have heard the naysayers and pundits shout, “But if we raise the dues we will lose a lot of members.” Let’s look at that situation a moment. Assume your Lodge has one hundred members and your dues are $50. Assuming all members pay their dues, your Lodge today is receiving $5000 for the year. Not much, is it? Moreover, you have not yet subtracted out Grand Lodge dues. Now, suppose your Lodge conducts a thorough study and determines it needs to raise the dues to $100 a member to cover all expenses plus give it some breathing room. This now gives your lodge $10,000 to work with for a whole year. However, several members now say they will have to drop their membership because their dues are too high. We will say twenty members out of the one hundred, to give us round figures. If indeed you were to lose one fifth of your membership, your income is still $3000 more than it was before the increase. Brethren, I do not believe you would lose that many members, if you were to raise your dues to cover expenses and give your Lodge some extra money with which to work. If a Brother wants to remain a member, he will do what it takes to stay. Those who claim they cannot pay should go through a thorough investigation and placed on Masonic Relief, if indeed, they do qualify and need it. Yet, after a proper investigation has been conducted, I sincerely believe the number would be fewer than expected.
In 1950, if your Lodge dues were $10, the equivalent of that in 2008, according to the Consumer Price Index, is $89.41. Your Lodge today needs more than $90 per member for the same purchasing power it had 60 years ago. That is why we must raise our Lodge dues. Our dues cannot be lingering in the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s or even in the ‘90s. They need to be equal to present day prices.
Let’s stop cheapening our Fraternity. Each Lodge within our Grand Jurisdiction needs to take a hardline look at its dues. “Our Focus is on Quality” and if we want to do more than merely survive, if we want to attract quality men and do more than wear down a very select few of our dedicated hard working Brethren until there is nothing left of them, then we need to stop fundraisers to pay our expenses and raise our dues.
As you strive to raise your Lodge dues to a proper level, you will most likely meet with resistance. After all, your Lodge dues have not kept pace with the economy for a long time and it is going to sting and hurt a bit, but we know that going through a tough situation makes us stronger on the other side. It may even take several tries to raise your dues so always keep in mind, along with prayer “that time, patience and perseverance will accomplish all things.”
Brethren, when you receive this issue of the Masonic Light, our 273rd Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina will almost be upon us. I look forward to you joining the Grand Lodge officers and being a part of the deliberations of your Grand Lodge. See you in Columbia.
May God continue to bless America and our great Fraternity and may the blessings of Heaven rest upon you and your families.
Barry A. Rickman