Originally posted by Zhenyghi
Also forgot to add a thing about the dues, which I won't mention specifically, 'cause I'd imagine they may vary by jurisdiction.
There are yearly dues, as to be expected, plus a "passage fee" with each degree, which I did not expect. There also seems to be some instruction
time I would have to undertake before each degree - something I also did not expect - I thought I would just show up, and the ritual would be done.
There is a one time fee for the degrees (in my lodge it is $125 I believe and that includes your first year dues). Annual dues are $50.
In our jurisdiction we certainly recognize that not everyone can shell out this much money. I think you will find that Masons are always willing to
help out with financial obligations.
I understand that some lodges may charge more or less. To me it's a fantastic value.
As you can see, though, Freemasonry is certainly not making a profit. On the contrary many lodges would go under without a continuing endowment.
I can give you an example:
My lodge (in which I will be stepping down as WM today since my year is complete in the East) has 167 members. Unfortunately we are lucky to get
12-15 to come to a meeting.
Ideally all 167 would pay their annual dues, giving the lodge an income of $8350 per year. Of that we pay a $10 "per capita" to the state Grand
Lodge for each member ($835), leaving an annual revenue of $7500.
We are fortunate to belong to a Masonic Center where several lodges and bodies meet and we rent our facilities for $1174 per month (including
(Anyone see a problem yet? The Liberal Art and Science of Mathematics comes into play here).
In addition we have other recurring expenses like a telephone line ($40 per month), refreshments ($60 per month), flowers for our Masonic widows on
special occasions like birthdays and Christmas.
There are other boring ongoing expenses like $400 a year for liability insurance, $180 a month for a Secretary salary (an INCREDIBLE bargain, btw)...
etc ad nauseaum.
We also pay for supplies for charity events, and we try to donate to charitable causes as much as possible.
In an ideal world we would be spending about three times our income (still better than Uncle Sam) if all members paid annual dues.
Here is the rub: Our lodge, and many others, offer a Life Membership option. A member can purchase a lifetime membership for $750. Many states
require a member to have paid a number of years or be a certain age.
With the bulk of our population (masons and US citizens at large) approaching their later years and fewer new members to take their place many lodges
are in a financial downturn simply because there is no one paying dues to replace the lost income of life memberships.
Our lodge is only able to function due to the modest income provided by interest from funds we received by selling a large tract of land bequeathed to
us many years ago. This worked out great when interest rates were high, but some of our investments return a laughable 0.75% (that's correct, less
than ONE PERCENT) interest.
Why do I say all this?
Firstly, as a non-profit institution I don't think it's unreasonable to share our financial picture.
Secondly, to rebut the claims that we are a wealthy organization, or that we are wealthy men.