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Lodge revitalization

Tips for financial stability

Your September checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on

Question of the month


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Lodge revitalization

The history of Los Angeles Lodge No. 42, the oldest lodge in L.A., starts off with a bang: The first master was expelled for dueling.

But then, no lodge survives 164 years without its fair share of challenges – whether 19th-century duels or the fraternity’s recent shifts in membership. Not long ago, Los Angeles Lodge struggled to attract younger Masons, groom new leaders, and cope with the financial aftermath of the 2008 Recession.

Thanks to a core of devoted brothers, the lodge adapted and endured. Today, the future looks bright. Master Ronald Hopkins explains how the lodge made its comeback.

Member experience

  • We have focused on establishing a friendly and diverse lodge culture, welcoming men from all over L.A. and surrounding areas.
  • In previous years, we gave out applications rather freely, and didn’t see many candidates again after their first degree. Now we require prospects to attend several stated meeting dinners before applying. We find out if they are really motivated by Masonry, and emphasize how important it is. The result is fewer degrees, but much better applicants.

New leaders

  • A lodge always needs new leaders and new ideas. For years we struggled to get new brothers into the line. We discovered that many were intimidated by the ritual, so we’ve begun encouraging the full form proficiency for degrees, and urging them to learn the ritual to qualify as officers. We recently did a degree with all the officer stations filled.
  • For the first time in many years, the lodge will install a first-time master in December, and a new crop of officers. They’ll have a cadre of past masters and experienced lodge leaders ready to help.

Community involvement

  • There are plenty of things a lodge can do to make an impact on its community, even without a big budget. Every summer we hold a picnic at Griffith Park, and treat children from the Midnight Mission to toys, food, and rides on the carousel.
  • We reach out to schools all over the county to select two Teachers of the Year. The teachers come to the lodge to talk about their experiences, and we present honorariums to help them buy supplies. They are always so grateful; this really means something to them.

Focus on finances

  • Our lodge has never owned a building, so our income is from dues and investments. The Recession of 2008 hit our investments hard.
  • We are responding by cutting costs and looking at fixed expenses. For example, we were paying a lot of money each month for storage. We’ve since downsized our inventory, and found cheaper rates elsewhere.
  • Like many lodges, we hadn’t been keeping our dues consistent with real costs today. We are now evaluating and adjusting our dues to something more reasonable.

The millennial Mason

  • We’re adapting to our new, younger demographic. Members in their 20s and 30s, particularly in an area like Los Angeles, often move for jobs or personal situations. It requires a more agile lodge management structure.
  • Our millennial brothers are eager for more Masonic education. We’ve begun holding Masonic ed nights every few months, often timing the theme with a recent degree.
  • These brothers are drawn to the esoteric and philosophical aspects of the ritual. We’re embracing it – and it’s benefitting the lodge as a whole.

Los Angeles Lodge is in a new chapter of its 164-year history. There will always be challenges, but we’re on a good course. Our brothers are invested and motivated, and a new group of officers are getting ready to lead the way.

For more information, contact Ronald Hopkins.

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Tips for financial stability

A priority of the 2020 Fraternity Plan is to develop strong lodges and hall associations. Financial health is a must. Here are tips.

Share regular financial reports with the Executive Committee, including:

  • Budget versus actual
  • Investments
  • Required filings
  • Concerns
  • Proposed solutions
  • A look ahead

Conduct a financial “SWOT” analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Take preventive action on the most serious and likely threats, and use other information to inform financial planning.

Recalculate lodge dues annually, using the formula: (A-B)/C = Dues

  • A = Expenses. This includes estimates for relief, per capita, and government taxes; discretionary expenses for lodge priorities; and social and fraternal expenses.
  • B = Income. This includes investment distributions and other income, exclusive of dues. One approach to calculating this number is to multiply the lodge’s average investment portfolio balance of the last five years by 4.5%. Estimate the income earned in your Life Membership account, if you have one, at 2% of the account value.
  • C = Number of dues-paying members. To determine this number, subtract any estimated dues remissions and life members from your lodge’s (projected) total membership.

Use the lodge app to send dues reminders. Collecting payments is easy with the app, free for all California lodges. Get it here.

Ready for more tips? Check out the “Build a Vibrant Lodge” book for even more ways to get your lodge on track for success. Access it here.

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Your September checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your September checklist.

Executive Committee

  • Continue tracking 100% officer giving to the Annual Fund, with officers setting an example through gifts that represent their capability as well as their commitment to our charitable programs. (See which lodges have already achieved 100 percent officer giving.)
  • Make plans to attend the 168th Annual Communication. Your vote is important to the future of Freemasonry in California. Special events and some hotels are selling out, so reserve your place today.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Identify and approach members for 2018 open elected and appointed officer positions.
  • Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
  • Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to qualify early with the inspector in their office’s ritual.
  • Urge respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2018 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set calendar for 2018 and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing 2018 budget.
  • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.


  • If lodge per capita has not yet been paid, submit payment ASAP.
  • Prepare to send out dues notices and begin collecting member dues, starting Oct. 31.


  • If lodge per capita has not yet been paid, submit payment ASAP.

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

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For your Trestleboard

October is Make a Difference Month, a chance to work with the Masonic youth orders to serve your community. Use this ad to inspire your lodge, plus an additional reminder.

This month:
Beyond Obligation
Age Successfully at Acacia Creek
Make a Difference Month

Share in your Trestleboard.

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Find it on

Looking for a simpler approach to lodge accounting and reporting?

Intacct was developed specially for the accounting and reporting needs of lodges and hall associations. Grand Lodge staff is available five days a week for support and training.

To enroll your lodge or get more information, contact the Grand Lodge Intacct Team at or (415) 292-9170.

To view training materials, visit the Resources and Publications page, and open the Intacct Resources link.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked what special steps your lodge takes to stay in touch with older members and widows. Of those that responded:

88% - Masonic relative/friend
42% - Lodge website
42% - Lodge presence at community events
39% - Grand Lodge or
24% - Public events hosted by the lodge
21% - Lodge Facebook page
12% - Other lodge social media

About 33 percent said the majority of their lodge elders do not connect to the Internet.

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p: (415) 776-7000