Questions Bout Endowment

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Michaelstedman81, May 22, 2011.

  1. Michaelstedman81

    Michaelstedman81 Premium Member

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    I was just reading the thread in the Voting Booth endowments. Up until this year, I never really thought too much about getting an endowment, and therefore didn't really ask too much into it. Before this year, I had heard that if you got the endowment, you wouldn't have to pay dues for the rest of your life, I just left it at that.

    A couple of months ago when I had the privelage to visit several lodges in an area, the topic of raising the lodge dues came up and I started hearing things that I hadn't really heard about before. Per Capita, returns, and a few other things. My ignorance to this primarily comes from being deployed and away from home for training due to the military to really be considered remotely active. So, even though I have been involved with Masonry for almost six years now, I still consider myself a pretty "young" or new Mason as I am still trying to pick up a lot of this.

    Can someone explain to me all this endowment stuff? Some key questions I have are the following:

    1- I give the money to my Secretary for my endowment, where does it go from there?
    2- What are the returns that my lodge gets, and where does it come from?
    3- What exactly is Per Capita? (Just to make sure I am tracking the right thing)
    4- Other than the forgetful individual (or one that is having a hardship during dues time), who benefits from endowments being purchased?
    5- How much does my lodge get in "returns" or how is it caculated?

    I was looking forward to getting an endowment, but with reading the thread I just did about all this, I really don't know which way I want to go with it now. Any other thoughts or information you Brothers can throw in a reply I would appreciate.
     
  2. tomasball

    tomasball Premium Member

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    When you buy an endowment, your secretary gives the money to Grand Lodge. It goes into the Grand Lodge Endowment Fund. This Fund is managed and invested with the advice of the Grand Loge Committee on Investments. The profit from these investments is paid back to the lodges, after Grand Lodge takes out an "administration fee". The returns from the endowment to the lodge are unpredictable, but are always substantially less that what the lodge would otherwise get from a member for dues. After the collapse a few years ago, the endowment fund lost a lot of its value, and no payments came to the lodges from endowed memberships for several years. By changing the laws of the GLoT last year, we enabled the GL trustees to make a payment from the endowment even if it still hasn't recovered the fund's value.
    Each lodge pays a "per capita" assessment to the Grand Lodge, $14.25 for each member. The lodge does not pay per capita for fifty-year members, but they do pay for endowed members.
    The per capita will increase to $25.00 next year.
    Most lodges charge $500 for an endowed membership. A lodge may vote once a year, at the officer election meeting, to raise the cost of an endowed membership by increments of $100.
    Depending on how much your lodge dues are, an endowed membership can be quite a good deal to the buyer. All you have to do is figure how many years of dues would equal the cost of the endowment, and ask yourself if you plan to live and remain a member longer than that.
    I think I will not be harshly criticized for observing that the endowment program has become a burden to lodges. Returns to the lodges from the fund are unpredictable and meager. Although this is in theory counterbalanced by the fact that money will continue to flow into lodges long after the member who purchased the endowed membership has died, if a lodge has many endowed members it becomes very very hard to formulate an annual budget, and many lodges are finding it hard to make ends meet.
     
  3. Michaelstedman81

    Michaelstedman81 Premium Member

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    Ah, okay. I can understand it quite a bit better now. I heard some endowed Brothers saying that even though they were endowed they would pay their own per capita. I was wondering why they were wanting to do this, but it makes total sense now. Thanks a lot for the info.
     
  4. Observer

    Observer Registered User

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    Even if you are endowed, there is nothing to stop you from paying at least your per capita, the difference between your dues and what the lodge receives, or even your full dues each year. This way if you are forgetful or in a bind, you are covered. Your lodge also continue to receive the funds when you are gone.

    Lodges in other jurisdictions have their endowed membership set at 12-15 times the annual dues. Texas put too much emphasis on marketing it as a benefit to the member rather than a benefit to the lodge.

    Bill_Lins thinks for the catch!
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2011
  5. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    This is definitely true. However, while the endowment fund has been a bust so far, I think long run it will end up being a great idea for the GL. We just don't see the end results yet.

    And honestly, I think if we're honest with ourselves, a much bigger problem than the endowment fund is our lodges across the state having artificially low dues that barely maintain what we have, leaving no wiggle room for special projects, renovations to our temples, or even emergencies. Most of us barely balance the lodge books endowment aside.
     
  6. Bro. Bennett

    Bro. Bennett Premium Member

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    I am putting on a bullet proof shoe as I write this.... I agree with Bro. Benton, you get what you pay for, and in my opinion, dues have been kept way to low for the organizational processes of most local lodges. I belong to another organization, no names mentioned, it is an international group of like minded thinkers. Our dues are 40 bucks per month. I get far less enjoyment from that group than I do from the Lodge, yet my Lodge dues annually barely exceed one months dues for this other group of people.
    Somehow along the way, many Broetheren have insisted at keeping the dues so low, as to attract people of little to no means, yet as I see it, I would be willing to double or triple my own dues to cover expenses if need be to equal the benefits I get from being adjoined to our Fraternity.
    I spend 10-15 bucks on a meal several times per week, I could simply cut out 1-2 of those, and have surplus for my Lodge dues if need be. I wonder how many others would be willing to do the same?

    As for endowments, I also agree that we will see an improvement in coming years as more of us go to the Great Beyond and our Lodges still receive our returns from the fund...
     
  7. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Man I sure hope so! That could stretch the pockets.
     
  8. Nate C.

    Nate C. Registered User

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    Due to the economy, there has not been much of a return to the blue lodges in recent years on the Endowed membership funds invested by GLOT. To make matters more dire, I think the Grand Lodge has been forced to dip into the principal on the invested funds to cover their own expenses for the last several years.
     
  9. Mac

    Mac Moderator Premium Member

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    Amen, brother. I pay probably three times my Lodge dues for my pharmacy fraternity membership, and it's nowhere near as engaging and enlightening as Freemasonry. Heck, the pharmacy frat doesn't even have a local building it has to maintain.

    I believe raising local dues makes sense, if only because these great buildings that were erected decades ago need upkeep at 2011 prices. I personally think it prudent for a Lodge to increase their dues on a regular basis (every 2 years maybe?) in a manner consistent with inflation. $50 a year is a great deal, but it's laughable when you think about trying to fix a floor, roof, etc.

    I will admit this: I bought my endowed membership only so that I could NEVER be told I was not a Mason in good standing. One of the first things that struck me as "off" upon joining the fraternity was the mixed feelings I had about the permanence of the obligations. I'm bound by them, I've agreed to live my life by them, but oh by the way if my check is late or I'm down on my luck, I'm no longer a Mason in good standing and my membership in appendant bodies has been revoked.

    At least now I know I will always be a Mason. Each year, I still chip in my per capita and that of a brother who needs the help.
     
  10. Mac

    Mac Moderator Premium Member

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    Amen, brother. I pay probably three times my Lodge dues for my pharmacy fraternity membership, and it's nowhere near as engaging and enlightening as Freemasonry. Heck, the pharmacy frat doesn't even have a local building it has to maintain.

    I believe raising local dues makes sense, if only because these great buildings that were erected decades ago need upkeep at 2011 prices. I personally think it prudent for a Lodge to increase their dues on a regular basis (every 2 years maybe?) in a manner consistent with inflation. $50 a year is a great deal, but it's laughable when you think about trying to fix a floor, roof, etc.

    I will admit this: I bought my endowed membership only so that I could NEVER be told I was not a Mason in good standing. One of the first things that struck me as "off" upon joining the fraternity was the mixed feelings I had about the permanence of the obligations. I'm bound by them, I've agreed to live my life by them, but oh by the way if my check is late or I'm down on my luck, I'm no longer a Mason in good standing and my membership in appendant bodies has been revoked.

    At least now I know I will always be a Mason. Each year, I still chip in my per capita and that of a brother who needs the help.
     
  11. Bro_Vick

    Bro_Vick Moderator Premium Member

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  12. Nate Riley

    Nate Riley Premium Member

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    Bro. Vick - your analysis is much appreciated and is very powerful when we are discussing the increase in dues. My lodge recently did and it was sort of a battle royal. Someone made the point you just made using the government provided CPI (which seems to be what you have done or something similar). I would point out that the CPI actually understates true inflation (see websites like shadowstats.com, etc.). The importance of the that is that the actual buying power of our dues has diminished significantly.

    Similarly, when compared to the $20 our grandfathers paid in 1950 (just an example), the buying power of dues was much higher back then. By that I mean, my grandpa could have bought many more gallons of milk with his dues than I can today. Thus, it was more of a sacrifice for them. (Some like to put it in terms of Cokes per day, etc., which is good thinking.) Thats why I am a proponent of raising dues.

    Since this thread is about endowments, most lodges need to be expeditious in raising their endowments. As of May 2011 our dues were $60 and our endowment was $500. Thus, it would cost you a little over 8 years of dues to be endowed for like. Recently, our dues increased to $100, while our endowment did not. So, for at least one more year a brother can get a lifetime of free dues for 5 years of dues upfront. That is probably the best deal in town.

    I realize that the benefit of the endowment really takes hold after a brother has passed to the Celestial Lodge above and that is why I bought one. I still plan on contributing to my lodge annually when I can.
     
  13. Nate Riley

    Nate Riley Premium Member

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    Can someone tell me why we can only change our endowment on the day of elections?
     
  14. cacarter

    cacarter Premium Member

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    My lodge has 45 endowed memberships, 23 of them are still living. It is great that we still get money from them (supposedly) long after a member is gone.

    But dues are way too low. I was in an organization at Texas Tech where dues were $200 a semester. I got to lodge and they told me dues were $40 a year. My jaw dang near hit the floor. I expected to pay much more, because I thought that Masonry would and does offer so much more as an organization. Our dues have been $40 since 1992, and adjusted for inflation it comes out around $60 today, the same amount some are suggesting we raise dues to.

    The lodge in my hometown in AZ had dues of $6 a month in 1906, so $72 a year. Today, that would be $1700 a year. The average salary for a worker was $200-400, and an educated (accountant, engineer, etc.) man could make $2000-5000 per year.

    I think that low dues cheapens the fraternity. Even as a recently graduated college student I can probably save $40 a year in just change. If a person pays more for something, they're more likely to participate in what they are paying for. So a lodge may lose members by raising dues, but those lost members are probably those who never showed up. To each man, masonry has a value, that amount has to be decided by each individual.
     
  15. Preston DuBose

    Preston DuBose Registered User

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    The problem we run up against is that so many members of our lodge are retirees on a fixed incomes. It feels easier to raise dues when you're young enough to (theoretically) continue to improve your own income over time. It's another matter when you're retired and know that your retirement benefits are barely keeping up with your increasing medical needs. Our lodge is in the process of raising dues to $80, and even at that we're talking about ways we can help our fixed-income brothers offset the additional expense.
     
  16. cacarter

    cacarter Premium Member

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    Very good point Brother and an issue I had forgotten to consider.
     

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