Question: What is Perpetual Membership?
Answer: The Perpetual Membership Program was adopted at the 159th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge. When adopted, it became a part of the Uniform Code of Bylaws for all Particular Lodges and will be found in Chapter 24, Section 3.03 of the Digest. Perpetual Membership allows a Brother to voluntarily give to his Particular Lodge an amount of money equal to his annual dues times 20. He is no longer required to pay annual dues.
Question: Why is the cost of a Perpetual Membership fee set at 20 times Lodge dues?
Answer: The multiplier of 20 sets an amount that, if invested at 5%, will return interest income to your Lodge equal to the same amount of money it would have received in annual dues from you.
Question: Is this beneficial to my Lodge?
Answer: Yes. The interest income from this money is available for use by your Lodge and the Grand Lodge every year, even after your death.
Question: Why should a portion of the interest income continue to be paid to Grand Lodge after my death?
Answer: Every Mason comes under the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge. The operation of the Grand Lodge is important to each of us. The Grand Lodge programs, the operation of the Masonic Home, and the operation of every Lodge depends on the operation of the Grand Lodge.
Question: Why do we need Perpetual Memberships?
Answer: Unfortunately, we have experienced losses in membership during the past several years. These losses can have adverse effects on the finances of Particular Lodges. If that Lodge owns its building, the fixed costs of upkeep and operation are spread among a decreasing number of members. Like the Masonic Home Endowment Fund, the money from Perpetual Memberships will be used as an endowment fund for your Particular Lodge. Only the earned interest will be used to support your Lodge and the Grand Lodge. A Perpetual Membership is a way to contribute to an endowment fund for your Lodge, insuring future financial security.
Question: What is the difference between a Perpetual Membership and a Life Membership?
Answer: By Masonic Regulation, the money from a Life Membership is regulated as follows: Half the amount is put in a special trust account which can not be spent until your death. The remaining half goes directly into the General Funds of the Lodge. Upon your death the money held in trust can go into the General Funds of the Lodge. With a Perpetual Membership the entire amount goes in a special trust account. The principal amount can only be reduced the first year. After your death, the interest earned from the money will continue to be returned to your Lodge and Grand Lodge forever.
Question: Why can the principal be reduced the first year?
Answer: Because each Lodge depends on dues from this new Perpetual Member. The money returned from this Fund is generated by the interest earned. There could be a shortage of interest earned the first year depending on when the Brother becomes a Perpetual Member. If he joins early in the year there will probably be enough interest earned to return an amount equal to his annual dues. If he joins late in the year, or on the last day of the year, it is unlikely that the interest earned will equal annual dues. In this case the principal will be reduced to return to his Lodge at least as much money as it would have received in dues.
Question: When will the Lodge receive this interest income?
Answer: At the time of the annual return billing.
Question: If the Grand Lodge per capita tax was to increase, will it effect me?
Answer: No. A Perpetual Member will no longer be subject to the per capita tax.
Question: What takes the place of the per capita tax?
Answer: To protect your Lodge from future Grand Lodge per capita tax increases on Perpetual Members, the per capita tax will be replaced with a proportionate ratio payment.
Question: What does proportionate ratio mean?
Answer: It is a ratio that is fixed at the time a Brother becomes a Perpetual Member. For instance, if your Lodge dues are $25, multiplying by 20 establishes a Perpetual Membership fee of $500. At a 5% return your Lodge receives $25 in interest, the same amount it would have received in dues. Of that $25, currently seven dollars is payable to Grand Lodge for the per capita tax. Using the example of $25 dues and with the current per capita tax of $7 this means that 7/25 of the interest earned is returned to Grand Lodge and the Lodge keeps 18/25ths. As this ratio is frozen at the time a Brother becomes a Perpetual Member, a Grand Lodge per capita tax increase will not effect it. The Lodge continues to keep 18/25 of the money earned and returns 7/25 to Grand Lodge in lieu of per capita tax. If the per capita tax was increased to $10 and the Lodge increased the dues to $30, then any Brother becoming a Perpetual Member at that time would join at a fee of $600. The proportionate ratio in this case would be 20/30 for the Particular Lodge and 10/30 for the Grand Lodge.
Question: Why can't I just make a donation to my Lodge and let it use the money to pay my dues?
Answer: There is nothing to prohibit this, but consider the following advantages of Perpetual membership: first there are no regulations compelling a Lodge to place money in a trust fund in your name; secondly, the Perpetual Membership Fund is relying on professional investors to get a higher rate of return.
Question: What if I want to donate more than the minimum amount?
Answer: The Regulation only sets a minimum amount for a Perpetual Membership Fee. There is no limit to the amount a Brother may voluntarily give to increase his Perpetual Membership. Our computer program at Grand Lodge is designed to handle twelve additional donations per member each year.
Question: We don't expect interest rates to fall below 5%, but what if they do?
Answer: If interest rates fall below 5% then the Lodge will receive less than it would have received in dues. We hope that will never happen. However, if it did occur the Grand Lodge portion is also reduced. Remember that the proportionate ratio paid to Grand Lodge is based on the interest earned. So in this case Grand Lodge would receive less than it would have normally received in per capita tax. In other words, Grand Lodge shares in the loss. Using the example of $25 dues and a 4% return: The Lodge receives 18/25 or $14.40 and Grand Lodge receives 7/25 or $5.60. But, please remember, interest income will still be coming in from the accounts of deceased Perpetual Members
Question: What happens if interest rates rise above 5%?
Answer: Particular Lodges and the Grand Lodge benefit! Let's again use the example of dues of $25 and a Perpetual Membership fee of $500. If we earn 8% interest on the $500 it will return $40.00. This will be divided 18/25 or $28.80 to the Particular Lodge and 7/25 or $11.20 to the Grand Lodge.
Question: Is there a reduced rate for older members?
Answer: No. The program is not really designed as a membership program. Its intent is to create a trust fund for each Particular Lodge. The primary funding of this account is from Perpetual and Memorial Perpetual Memberships. It is a way for a Brother to make a voluntary contribution to his Lodge and Grand Lodge. By making a donation of his dues times 20 he is relieved of paying future dues.
Question: If a Particular Lodge levies a special assessment on its members, is a Perpetual Member exempt?
Answer: A Perpetual Member IS NOT exempt from special assessments made by his Particular Lodge, but he IS exempt from special assessments made by the Grand Lodge. It is not the intent of this Regulation to interfere with the finances of any Particular Lodge. The exemption from Grand Lodge assessments is for the protection of the Particular Lodge.
Question: What about Memorial Perpetual Memberships?
Answer: Memorial Perpetual Memberships can be donated in the memory of a deceased Florida Mason who was in good standing at the time of his death. The fee for this membership is the dues and per capita tax which were in effect at the time of the remembered Brother's death. We have set a minimum fee of $200 for this type of membership ($10 minimum dues times 20). There is a lot of interest in this type membership.
Question: What if I transfer my membership to another Lodge?
Answer: If you affiliate with another Florida Lodge, your Perpetual Membership moves with you. If you affiliate with a Lodge outside Florida, the Perpetual Membership Fee remains with that Florida Lodge. If you did affiliate with a Lodge outside Florida and later returned to your Florida Lodge, your Perpetual Membership is restored.
Question: What happens if a Perpetual Member is suspended or expelled for unmasonic conduct?
Answer: The application form for Perpetual Membership states that the applicant understands the Perpetual Membership Fee is non-refundable. So, although a Brother may be suspended or expelled and may not have a dues card, the money remains with the Lodge.
Question: Has any other Grand Lodge implemented Perpetual Membership and if so, has it been successful?
Answer: Yes, the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma and at least six other Grand Lodges, have adopted Perpetual Membership Programs. Our Perpetual Membership program is closely patterned after the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma's. In the two years since its adoption, Oklahoma has gained over 2400 Perpetual Memberships.
Question: How can I become a Perpetual Member?
Answer: An application form is available from your Lodge Secretary. It must be processed through your Lodge.