Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
How does a SGL representative justify voting in favor of the recent dues increase?
A couple of days ago, I published an article where I highlighted the Sovereign Grand Lodge (SGL) decision to raise dues charged to members in 2018 and 2019. The precise language of the dues increase is the following: “dues amounts for Odd Fellow and Rebekah members shall be increased by five ($5.00) United States dollars for each year, for two (2) years beginning at the close of 2017 session of The Sovereign Grand Lodge. The yearly increase shall not be assessed when in any year the dues paying membership from all branches of the Order shows a net gain from the previous year.”
In response to this article, I have received e-mails from SGL representatives who had voted “yes” on this dues increase. I have asked each of them, repeatedly, the following question: “What did SGL tell you and the other reps that they would do with the increased revenue?”
I have never received an answer to the question.
In one case, I asked the SGL representative why he voted for an increase in dues when the SGL budget was balanced, with no showing of a deficit. His answer was remarkable. He said: “Yes, I do realize it was a balanced budget. But as we all know the numbers are dropping. So if you have less members to collect from you need to collect more from those that decide to continue. And a dues [increase] will not be charged if the membership increases in all branches. The incentive is there if you don’t want to pay more by increasing the lodge membership in all branches.”
Let’s analyze what we just heard here.
First, the representative’s perspective is that dues must go up because membership has decreased. Really? For what purpose? The SGL budget is balanced. So what deficit are we filling with the increased dues? More importantly, the illogic of this representative’s perspective is breathtaking. Does that mean that every year membership declines dues must go up? Do we double dues if membership gets cut in half? In truth, increasing dues to combat declining membership is a self-fulfilling negative prophecy: as we increase dues, it will compel members to withdraw resulting in decreased membership, and (thus) increased dues. Dandy.
Second, the last part of this representative’s perspective is the thought that the $5 dues increase “will not be charged if the membership increases in all branches.” He is referring to the proviso contained in the last sentence of the dues bill that: “The yearly increase will not be assessed when in any year the dues paying membership from all branches of the Order shows a net gain from the previous year.” Based on that, the representative suggests that we all have now been given an “incentive” to avoid paying the $5 dues increase “by increasing the lodge membership in all branches.” Say, what? In the mind of this representative, he believes that we (each of us members) will so want to avoid paying a $5 dues increase that we will want to join the other branches of the Order, because if all the branches collectively increase membership, the $5 dues increase will not be imposed. So, he suggests that the dues increase will give me and other members “incentive” is to join other branches, and thus increase the membership of the other branches. He is actually suggesting that I will be impelled to join other branches and pay $100 more in dues to avoid a $5 dues increase. And remember, this “incentive” only works if collectively, throughout all branches of the Order in SGL there is a membership increase.
So, there you have it. This is the sort of thinking and “logic” which, apparently, compelled a majority of the SGL representatives to approve a dues increase for us. At bottom, there is no rational basis for it, and it will do no more than further drive our membership numbers to a new low.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California