The last 5 months on the Lodges and Buildings Committee (Grand Lodge NY) have been an eyeopening experience. It is a sobering thought that many lodges that have declining membership cannot afford to own and operate a building.
Take my Lodge for example. In 2000, the Lodge had 180 members, and by 2010 the Lodge was reduced to only 125 members, a reduction of more that 30%. This factoid is even more poignant when you realize that the Lodge has averaged 5+ members each year for that same period. Another sobering fact is that most of our new members are in the 20-30 age bracket and our average age is still 65. From the period of December 1, 2010 through January 30, 2011, we lost 7 members to the Celestial Lodge above.
So what about our building? We are one of the fortunate groups since our building is owned by a Historical Society and we are tax exempt. However, we are still responsible for maintenance, utilities, snow plowing, trash removal, etc. The cost for all this wonderfulness translates into around $ 30,000 a year. So let’s do the math, $30K divided by 125 members equals $240 per member, per year. That’s funny, the last time I looked, our annual dues were $100. So, what is wrong with this picture?
So how does a Lodge know whether to own or rent? There is a simple way of making that determination. If a Lodge spends all of its time raising money for the upkeep of a building and its not doing the work of Masonry, then they should be renting and not attempting to own. Of course the exception to the rule is the lodge that is well funded with investments and the annual earning more than compensate for building expenses. Unfortunately, most lodges do not have that luxury.
The Committee on Lodges & Buildings has many aids that help you make this determination. Contact the author or any member of the Committee for more information.
Allan M. Bryant, State Chairman