38 Comments

I think this goes back to my earlier post around financial planning. In a not for profit: Expenditures + needed Capital project (years in the future) expenses should equal revenue. If you don't have the money to sustain your operations plus keep the facility you are occupying, then something must give.

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

I also have the view that having a proper budget is key. I tried to convince my brethren in a failing lodge to take steps financially to prevent a collapse during my two year term as lodge treasurer. They refused to take any of my advice. I quit the position and stopped attending. 4 years later they collapsed. Sold their building under dubious circumstances. All because they hadn't had a plan since the 70s.

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Thats horrible, and unfortunately common. Lodges with out Long range planning are doomed.

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I think having a non forecastable budget is a bad Idea. Lodge operations take funds and strategic decisions around operations need to be made during the forecast phase of budgeting possibly 2 years out. This also means that capital expenses are not even factored in, which means you are living on borrowed time before one facility failure takes you out. NC has a Lodge dues calculator for its lodges. Ours requires about 18-20 K a year and rising due to inflation just to operate the building. https://bit.ly/3KfQNib In My humble opinion, the reality is cheap masonry results in more cheap masonry. If we don't have the numbers, to support a building, then we need to rent. There are costs to doing that as well but its a factor that must be considered, and to do so requires predictable revenue.

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author

Thank you for sharing this calculator. I think that something like that would be of tremendous benefit to many Lodges here in Washington. Unfortunately we don't have something like that in this Jurisdiction, but we should.

I will bring it up to our GM and GS after our upcoming Annual Communication.

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Yeah useful for those who have never had to run an organization with a OpEx requirement. This is something We had to learn the hard way. Respectfully speaking, Many men in our ranks don't have their financial houses in order. Much less, can they financially plan. This page/form simplifies budgeting in to terms that help people understand where they are fiscally. That said, this accompanied a education campaign on how to operate and run a org. Here is the PPT that i Shared a few years before the GL created that Online form. It included a spreadsheet that our lodge used to forecast out dues rates for 10 years based on our attrition rates, calculated expenses and known capital costs. The online version that our gl created improved it. https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmOo0damX0Qih9ctBgifqgrAv8BZCw?e=4RXh7z

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Ill say this one last thing. 40 years of neglect can not be repaired in 1 year.

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author

You are right.

I had a front row seat at a Lodge that went from middling to wonderful some years ago. It took four years of dedicated effort by leaders with the skills to get it done.

This does not hold true in the opposite direction however. I've seen a Lodge go from great to terrible in a single year and that damage remain for years.

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Thank you for sharing this power point. I really appreciate it. I've gone through it this morning, and it is plain to see that it is laid out in such a way as to serve as a path that Lodges anywhere could follow.

I encourage everyone to open it and go through it.

We don't utilize the same database here on the West Coast as you do, or at least it looks different to me, but the same data and reports are available to us as are mentioned in the power point, so it is directly actionable.

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I can't think of not going to Grand Lodge. And this will be the first time as a PM. If Lodges have funds, then maybe they should take this up for discussion. The Lodges could raise dues or add another fund raiser to help offset the cost to the officers and not drain the resources. But the poorer Lodges will most likely be the smaller ones ran by a small cadre of Brothers that do everything.

I have noticed that many Brothers do not come over for Friday voting on what seems to be a hefty part of our Resolutions. Could the real cost be in the lost of work (salary) or the lost of that 8 hours of vacation time? I am going to look around more this weekend to see if the crowd is getting younger on Saturday.

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author

Now you are going to have me doing the same observation. It is a very interesting question, do the demographics change Friday to Saturday?

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You'll definitely have a better overall view from your chair than I will. We'll need to compare notes sometime later.

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author

If you get a chance, swing up to my room. I imagine I'll be on the 8th floor with the rest of the Officers. I'll pour you a drink and we'll share some notes!

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Just didn't make up to the 8th floor.

From my view in the North, there were some younger Brothers there Saturday that I didn't see Friday. Also ran into an older Brother I know that does show up on Saturday since he drives School Bus.

Another Brother I know that came on Saturday is retired. Didn't ask, but it could be an expense that doesn't work on a pension.

It could be a lot of various reasons to not show up until Saturday morning.

I think it was an additional 64 votes on Saturday. That seems to be enough to have caused a different outcome from Friday's votes.

Maybe the format used in 2021 would be the model?

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

Each year, the Grand Lodge of Washington hosts two major events, the Lodge Leadership Retreat and the Annual Communication. Both are important events for lodge elected officers, both are expensive endeavors. My lodge covers the expense for three elected officers (SW, JW & SD) to attend the LLR but the elected officers attending the Annual Communication pay their own way. Are the lodges that are paying for their officers to attend the Annual Communication also paying for their officers to attend the LLR? Again, both are important events but spending money (rich or poor) to send officers to the Annual Communication isn’t doing anything for the lodge other than “rewarding” the elected officers. It doesn’t seem any different than a lodge buying lifetime memberships with money that should be used for other things. Any time we can meet as Masons, good things come out of it, but I’ve been to Wenatchee and it’s really not a destination location. If the GL of Washington wants to continually hold their Annual Communication their, perhaps it should consider moving the Grand Lodge there.

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This is an aside from our conversation, but I don't think that it is a matter of the Grand Lodge wanting to always hold the Annual Communication in Wenatchee so much as it is in some ways our only viable option.

The new convention center in the tri cities where we held the AC immediately after it opened is a fabulous facility, and comparable in cost to Wenatchee, but I know that there have been scheduling difficulties.

I thought that the center in Bremerton where we were fairly recently was truly superb, but my understanding is that following the AC, the facility decided that our group was a bit larger than they can reasonably accommodate. Apparently while they were able to pull it off, their resources were stretched almost to breaking.

A GM shortly before my term looked very seriously at a facility in Tacoma that seemed superby suited to our needs, and within our cost abilities, but all available parking was insufficient to meet our needs.

I looked seriously into both Walla Walla and Ocean Shores. Ocean Shores was well beyond our budget, Walla Walla was too small to hold us.

The Great Wolf works, but barely, and is an odd space for a convention such as ours.

We did try Yakima a few years ago, I think all agreed that it wasn't good.

In my experience, each new JGW does consider every option they can think of, but it usually ends up defaulting to Wenatchee due to size, availability, and cost.

Cost is a vital consideration. People complain loudly (and rightly in my opinion) about the cost of meals at these things. But Wenatchee is extremely reasonable compared to some of the other options.

There are two options that I think might well merit future consideration that I don't think we have considered before:

Colleges/Universities, and Casinos.

The Grand Lodge of Nevada holds their AC's in casino hotels. The facilities are wonderful, the rooms superb, the meals excellent, and the cost reasonable. Given the massive size of some of our Washington casino hotels now, I think we might want to look into having it at one of the larger ones.

My granddaughter often wants to go on walks with me, and due to the fact that a college is right across the street from my house, has security, and an inner campus without cars, we generally walk there. She can run around like six year olds want to do, and I don't have to worry about her getting run over by a car. The facilities are all fairly new, beautiful, and large. There are also foodservice possibilities, and ample parking lots behind all of the buildings. All of these facilities are for rent when not in use by the college, and I think it is that way with all of our public colleges and universities. We might do well considering a place like that.

Either of these options would of course require us to change our thinking about things in various ways though, and as we all know, change comes slowly.

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

I belong to two different lodges. One, while not rich, has been able to afford to send at least 2 officers to Annual Communication for some time. We have for the last few yeare even pitched in a minimal amoumt to help another lodge within our budget.

I'm also apart of that 2nd lodge. This lodge is extermely poor. We barely make our operating budget each year. But when I made a budget for this lodge (1st one in years to have been balanced and passed) I included enough to send 1 officer.

My reasoning is thus. Attendance at annual Communication is required by our code. This makes it Lodge business. If I buy stamps or something in the course of the lodge work as secretary, I get reimbursed. This, to me, is no different. If a lodge can't afford to send at least 1 person to Grand Lodge, what else isn't able to do that it is required to do?

Now, if you have a brother of financial means, who is perfectly fine shouldering the cost of the event, and is able to give up a days salary on top of that, the lodge should be grateful. If it weren't for the lodge assistance in going, I dont think I would be able to attend this year.

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author

Thank you for providing me with your reasoning about this. Your comment, and the comments of others have given me a new perspective on the question, and I truly appreciate that!

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

My Lodge pays for gas, lodging and registration. Since the attendee is going to eat anyway, food expenses are on him. Of course, the other thing that's on him, if he isn't yet retired, is the lost work day. As others have commented, if the Lodge has the budget for their representatives' attendance then so be it. If they don't have adequate funds that's a problem that's likely bigger than Grand Lodge costs.

Beyond hard dollars, scheduling a REQUIRED communication such that many brothers have to forego a day's pay or use a vacation day is quite unfair, particularly since the schedulers' costs are covered by Grand Lodge (a good office never eats until his men are fed). I'd prefer a format in which Saturday would be reserved for legislation and make that the required day. If a brother really wants to show up on Friday for the various thank yous, congratulations, and other Masonic pageantry then nobody's going to stop him. And to make sure the scheduling works please just send us an email with all of the various reports that are read aloud. These measures would trim overall Grand Lodge costs and optimize everyone's time expenditure.

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

I like the idea of keeping legislation to Saturday. The voting system we now use makes these go pretty quick when needed.

As a long time Project and Program Manager, I always appreciate replacing a meeting with an email too :)

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I agree, the entire format of the Annual Communication needs to be completely revamped. The voting for everything, now that we've moved into electronic voting, can be done in a couple hours. All of the repeated committee reports need to be pared down. There is no need to actually read them word for word, I can read just as well as anyone else. Every year I have to take at least two vacation days to attend. I don't mind, but some brothers can't afford it. Having everything done on saturday would greatly improve attendance.

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author

I do agree with each of you that there is much that can be pared down. I've always thought that the AC should be more of a business meeting and less of a prom.

I truly love it for its social aspects, and always have, but those social aspects are not a part of the official events. The official stuff should be just that in my view, so that we can all do the social as best suits our individual natures.

That said, I think that it is being trimmed down, slowly as time has gone on. If memory serves, it was a day longer prior to our adoption of electronic voting. Also, I don't know if anyone noticed, but somebody might have cut out quite a bit of the 'pageantry' that was always a part of it in prior years. Pretty much an entire morning's worth.

I think that the trend is to shorten the event, and I think it is happening, but it is happening slowly over time so isn't very noticeable.

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I agree with others, that if the WMC requires attendance by at least one pillared officer each year, then the lodge should pay for it. Where I draw the line is the food. The first year I attended I made the grave mistake of buying lunches and dinners, and found them wildly expensive and terrible. The lunch was a small bowl of tomato soup and a garden salad, for which I had paid $25 dollars. I learned my lesson from then on. After paying my registration fee, I look for the cheapest hotel within walking distance of the convention center, which is usually a motel down the street. I am not hung up on fancy places to sleep, as long as it is clean and has an ice machine, I'm fine. I can dine out then wherever I want and there are plenty of wonderful choices that serve better food for at least half the cost of what we're getting charged by the convention center.

For the LLR you are sort of stuck with the package deal, but up until a few years ago, wasn't too expensive for what you got. Now, the cost has doubled if you want to bring your spouse/SO.

In both cases, I feel it's necessary for the lodge to include in the budget to send at least three members to the LLR, and the pillared officers to the Annual Communication. The LLR is an investment in the lodge, and the Annual Communication is dictated by the WMC for attendance.

For my going to the Annual Communication I don't expect the lodge to reimburse me for food and gas, just the hotel and registration, so the cost to the lodge this year is about $300 dollars. For the LLR, the lodge budgets a set amount, if I spend over that, then I bear the cost.

It's been talked about before here, but only about half the lodges in our jurisdiction make any effort to send folks to the LLR, which I feel is a grave disservice to the craft.

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author

I agree with you about the importance of leadership training offered at our Lodge Leadership Retreat, and I agree with you that our Lodges are investing in themselves by paying for their future Worshipful Masters to attend.

Through the years, I have sat down with many failing Lodges to talk through their situation. Without fail, when I ask if they send anyone to the LLR for training the answer is no. Successful Lodges pay for their junior officers training, failing Lodges do not. I've found that to be almost universally true.

But even though what you say, and what I've found is plain for everyone to see, those stubborn failing Lodges continue to refuse to see the light.

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

I went as a JD my first year and as far as I know we pay for the gas and it is a long 4 hour drive each way but I still think the Lodge must have enough to pay for that but I don't think that is ever brought up.

And I made all 3 proxy votes that time.

This year I will be the SW and the WM will be there early and I will be with our Secretary/Treasurer with a JW proxy.

I guess if the Lodge paid for everything I would even talk the wife into going for the entire weekend and we wouldn't have to start that long drive when the rooster crows and it would be closer to noon for me.

I really doubt if I could make that long trip next year and I will be in the East.

Sure hope the weather is a lot cooler this time.

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Gonna be a hot time in the old town that weekend. Mid 90s.

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author

Wool pants. Wool jacket with tails. Vest. Tie. Your poor past Grand Master may well be cooked to death in his own clothes.

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You have always fancied BBQ. Here's your chance to be the BBQ!

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author

Yep! If I croak, just carve me up, tell folks its roasted hog!

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I am willing to bet you'll taste just like chicken.

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author

Doesn't everything? I might be a little fatty though.

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The cannibals call it “long pork”.

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Jun 7, 2023·edited Jun 8, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

This year, the Grand Lodge Annual Communication will be at my expense. I will be taking a vacation day and driving back and forth from the Tri-Cities both Friday and Saturday. I am not planning to attend any dinners. However, I am fulfilling my duty to my Lodge and do not expect any compensation.

If you want to know where a person or a group land on an issue, a great test is to follow the money.

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Jun 8, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

"Tradition is just peer pressure from those before us."

Having never attended an Annual Communication 'yet' I'm going to fly blind on this, but want to lend my Masonic two cents. There are a few things at play here after reading the article, and the comments. I agree with others that voting should be moved to an electronic means. Grand Lodge knows who is eligible for voting, and who is not, easy to set up a Google Form and email it out to those allowed to vote, doesn't need to be anything fancy. Links can be provided to each resolution being looked into so the Brothers can read them and decide before casting their vote. To help prevent 'voting fraud' it could be sent as an email the day before the Annual Communication is to be held as most Brothers will be on-site by then. For those that 'reject technology' whelp, we'd need to figure that out.

When it comes to Lodges paying for elected officials to go, if the Lodge can afford it, great, let them pay. I feel that all Lodges should have some sort of viable income outside of investments, and annual dues (also most Lodges need to raise their annual dues to begin with, but that's another topic). For the Lodges that don't have the funds, there should be a form that they can fill out and it's sent to the Grand Lodge, and the Grand Lodge can then pay for them (trust, you know that they can pay for it) to attend as far as a room. Gas, food, other expenditures should need to be for by the people attending.

As for moving the Annual Communication to another day (Saturday) while it might help some, it would help all, I know many people who work on Saturday's so it would still be a lost day of using PTO, or missing out on work. To this comment, there isn't a right answer, BUT I think moving it to Saturday would help.

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Grand lodge adopted electronic voting several years ago. It is quite efficient and has cut down the time spent immensely.

The annual communication here in Washington is a two day affair, Friday and Saturday. Friday is spent mostly on voting on resolutions and committee reports. Saturday is any leftover resolutions, the budget, and election of officers. The argument is to shorten it to just Saturday.

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