It's Restoration Time!
Last year, when contacted by the Grand Lodge, three out of every four members who had been suspended for non-payment of dues indicated that they wanted to restore their membership. Three in every five said they were having trouble affording their dues. An incredible 90 percent were unaware they could request a partial remission of their dues, and 77 percent said they would have paid a partial remission had they known.
Those are incredible figures—and ones worth bearing in mind this time of year. (Dues notices go out October 31; if you haven’t already, consider opting into the online credit card payment system.) Since the pandemic, suspensions for non-payment of dues have remained stubbornly high. In 2022, just over 1,400 members were suspended—that’s 3.5 percent of all members. Their average age: 53. Average tenure: 32 years. Thirty-two years! In other words, these aren’t Johnny-come-latelys who’ve decided that Masonry isn’t for them. These are longtime, committed members.
One of the most critical components to establishing membership growth in the fraternity is to stem this tide of SNPDs, particularly among the vast majority of cases in which the member wants to remain in good standing. These happen for all kinds of reasons, from financial difficulties to simple clerical errors (for instance, not updating their address during a move).
As a fraternity, the Masons of California have a powerful tool at their disposal to make things right. Already, one-third of California lodges have opted into the Membership Restoration campaign, whereby suspended members can be reinstated for a simple, flat fee. And as lodges face the uncertainty of our post-pandemic future, it’s never been more important to use this important and simple tool.
The pandemic hit membership organizations hard—and California Masonry wasn’t spared, says Jordan Yelinek, director of member services and lodge development. In 2020–21, over 4,000 members let their membership lapse, most often as a result of financial troubles. “When we asked why they didn’t reach out for a remittance, good old-fashioned pride was the leading reason for remaining silent,” Yelinek says. That’s what makes the restoration campaign so effective. Through the program, the Grand Lodge is empowered by local lodges to reach out directly to suspended members and invite them back in for a flat, one-time fee of $100. “For those brothers who face multiple years of back dues, this partial remission can be a lifeline,” Yelinek explains.
The process is simple. If a lodge opts into the program, the Grand Lodge receives a list of suspended members from that lodge. Then, it contracts with a third-party vendor to verify the address listed for each member is still valid—a key step if members have moved away. From there, Grand Lodge staff send out regular mailings and, if an email account is on file, email as well to let them know about the partial remission.
Since the first campaign kicked off in 2019–2020, over 3,000 members have been returned to good standing. Of that number, 88 percent remain in good standing to this day—a testament to the long-term benefits of participating in the campaign.
For lodges who have participated in the program, there’s been nothing but glowing reviews. “Consistently, every time we’ve surveyed lodges, they indicate that the campaign has been a net positive,” Yelinek says.
Asked whether suspended members might game the system to shirk their dues requirements, Yelinek is unequivocal. “The facts don’t bear that out,” he says. Of the 3,000 members brought back into the fold since the first campaign, only three have relied on the partial remission again. In any case, he says, lodges have the ability to edit the list of members it provides the Grand Lodge, meaning it can strike a member’s name if they’re a repeat SNPD.
It’s simpler than ever for lodges to join the restoration program. If your lodge has already opted in, there’s no need to do anything—your previous year’s vote continues forward for this year as well. For lodges that have not yet opted in, follow these steps:
- From iMember 2.0, run a report of members who are suspended for non-payment of dues.
- To do this, go to your lodge dashboard and select “Reports” in the sidebar
- Select the “Events” tab, input the date range desired, and select “Suspended NPD”
- Note that this report shows all members who were suspended for non-payment of dues during that period. Sort out any members who do not have the status “suspended.”
- This report can be previewed in your browser and printed as a PDF or an Excel file
- Note any members on the list who should not be included in the restoration campaign.
- If your lodge did not participate in previous restoration campaigns, your lodge must vote on the attached resolution at stated meeting. The resolution will pass with 2/3 vote of all present at the stated meeting.
- Email your edited list and the signed resolution to Grand Lodge at email@example.com.
- Grand Lodge staff will reach out to all indicated members of your lodge and invite them back to the fraternity.
- Grand Lodge will receive payment from those suspended members, update their member record, restore them to good standing, and record their payment. Grand Lodge will then notify the member and the lodge, so that you may reach out to them, issue their dues receipt, and welcome them back to lodge.
As baseball enters its postseason, we’re raising a banner for the 2023 Masons4Mitts campaign. Statewide, Masons set a new fundraising record with $286,580 given to our four MLB partner foundations. On top of that, we set new regional fundraising records in Northern California ($126,824), Los Angeles ($72,069), and Orange County ($47,042). And special congratulations to the South Bay Bombers Masons4Mitts team, which led the league with 1,969 mitts donated. Since launching this program in 2009, Masons have given more than $2 million—that comes out to more than 100,000 real, leather baseball mitts given to young ballplayers in youth baseball and softball leagues across the state. Through these programs, Masons4Mitts and its partners provide children with a safe place to play while they develop key collaboration skills, learn about health and nutrition, and build productive study habits.
For Your Trestleboard
Masonic Health Services:
Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your October checklist.
- Make plans for your lodge master, wardens, or other representatives to attend Annual Communication. Your vote is important to the future of Freemasonry in California.
Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee
- Identify and approach members for the 2024 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
- Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
- Urge the 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.
- Set calendar for 2024 and identify event leaders.
- Continue preparing 2024 budget.
- Finalize your installation date/venue and prepare the installing team.
- Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.
- Continue tracking 100 percent 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.
- Grand Lodge has centralized the dues process to allow members to pay their annual dues directly into the system via credit card. See previous issues of the Leader for more information.
- Prepare to send out dues notices and begin collecting member dues starting Oct. 31.
- If your lodge has employees and is not using the Paychex Payroll System, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February).
- If your lodge has employees and is not using the Paychex Payroll System, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88.
- If lodge per capita has not yet been paid, submit payment ASAP.
Questions? Contact Member Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 776-7000.
Last month, we asked what efforts your lodge makes during Public Schools Month. Of those who replied:
- Issue scholarships - 52%
- Donate supplies - 33%
- Donate to schools/districts - 33%
- Host PSM celebration events - 18%
- Donate to California Masonic Foundation/Raising A Reader - 10%
- Volunteer in local schools - 5%
- Other - 20%