Together we make a profound difference

Let Grand Lodge do the work (plus three other timesavers)

Six steps for smarter dues

Your August checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on

Question of the month


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Let Grand Lodge do the work (plus three other timesavers)

Way back in 1853 and 1854, when California wasn’t yet old enough to enroll in preschool, the Bay Area city of Benicia served briefly as state capital. It is a very old town.

Recently, this historic town got a new lodge. Chartered in 2017, Carquinez Lodge No. 858 is part of a trend of smaller lodges cropping up in California. When its 30 charter members considered how to set up the lodge’s administrative processes, they embraced the tools of the time: They used every Grand Lodge service available.

Secretary Robert Wilson explains.

Services from Grand Lodge

  • We use almost every Grand Lodge service: Intacct, The Vault, web templates, tax preparation.
  • iMember saves me hours of monthly paperwork.
  • Grand Lodge set us up with a website template.
  • We stay connected on the lodge app. For a few brothers who were new to smartphones, this required some initial technical support. But now that they’re on the app, they love it.
  • We store all lodge documents online in The Vault, where members can view them. This ensures complete transparency between lodge leaders and the membership.
  • We use Intacct for accounting. I’m a retired paramedic – I have a background in medicine, not finance. So I love that Grand Lodge takes care of all the data input and monthly reconciliation, and categorizes everything for taxes.

Other timesavers

  • We bought our domain name,, from GoogleDomains for $12/year. It includes 50 associated email addresses, so I created one for each officer position. Each year, I update them to forward to new officers. This way, our leadership emails are always current.
  • I created a dedicated lodge phone number using Google Voice. It’s free, and can be forwarded to any number. Now we don’t have to pay for a landline, and I don’t have to give out my personal number. Plus I can always transfer ownership to someone else, if need be.
  • Our lodge has events scheduled through the end of the year. To keep everyone in the loop, I created a Google calendar and linked it to our lodge app and website. I only have to update the Google calendar, and our other calendars update automatically.

I encourage lodges to take advantage of all of Grand Lodge services, and to explore other tools out there too. As secretary, it makes my job easier. I can put my time and energy into other projects for the lodge.

Contact: Robert Wilson

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Six steps for smarter dues

A healthy, productive lodge needs enough income to run on and reach its goals. Dues and fees are essential – and it falls to your Executive Committee to set and manage them appropriately. Here’s how.

1. Articulate a vision

  • Define your goals: What does your lodge hope to achieve over the next five years?

2. Budget

  • Determine the amount of revenue you’ll need to achieve your goals, and what portion needs to come from lodge dues.
  • If a dues increase seems necessary, draft a plan to roll it out in phases over the next five years.

3. Compare
Check your assumptions about your current dues

  • How do your current dues compare to the past, adjusted for inflation? Use this calculator.
  • How do your current dues compare with other California lodges? Use this table:

Lodge dues by county, 2016

Alameda County: Average $172 Range $94 - $412
Sacramento County: Average $119 Range $60 - $144
San Diego County: Average $118 Range $75 - $210
San Bernardino County: Average $151 Range $79 - $219
Santa Clara County: Average $111 Range $74 - $162
Fresno County: Average $96 Range $75 - $123
Los Angeles County: Average $143 Range $59 - $500
San Francisco County: Average $107 Range $49 - $240

Other organization dues and expenses

Elks membership: $90 - $600/year
Rotary membership: $800 - $1,200/year
Gym membership: $480 - $1,000/year
Newspaper subscription: $143/year
College fraternity dues: $500 - $2,000/year

4. Build consensus

  • If your dues are indeed low or average, and should be increased to meet lodge goals, take time to talk to all members about the plan for this increase. (If comparisons reveal that your dues are already high, you may need to find alternate income or reconsider your goals.)
  • To demystify the numbers, circulate a written version of the plan and budget proposal to all lodge members. Share your comparisons from above, which can demonstrate that a needed dues increase is fair.
  • Ask for input – including from past masters, sideliners, and absent brothers – and seek to incorporate it in the plan.
  • Listen to the plan’s skeptics, work to understand their point of view, and help them understand yours. If you anticipate that a brother will be resistant to a dues increase, consider inviting him to the planning team. This gives him a chance to suggest alternative ideas, and may help attain his buy-in from the start.
  • You may need to hold all-lodge discussions. Remind everyone that adjusting dues is an important part of building a lodge together, and the process will require time. If you are proposing a significant change, it may take a couple years before you’ve reached consensus and the lodge is ready to vote.

5. Learn from setbacks

  • It’s normal for a first vote for a change in dues to fail. Go back to previous steps, especially setting the right vision and building consensus, and continue to enroll your passionate skeptics.

6. Plan for remissions

  • For some brothers, a change in dues or fees may be really difficult. Make sure your officers understand the remissions process and can talk about it with brothers in need. Contact Member Services for assistance.

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Your August checklist

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

Executive Committee

  • Make plans for your lodge master, wardens, or other representatives to attend the Annual Communication this October.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Identify and approach members for 2019 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 respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2019 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set calendar for 2019 and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing 2019 budget.
  • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.

Junior Warden

  • 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.



Hall Association

  • Present semi-annual report.

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 partner with Masonic youth and serve your community. Use this ad to inspire your lodge, plus, get this year's new HarvestFest poster and a reminder about Acacia Creek.

This month:
Make a Difference Month
HarvestFest Poster
Age Successfully at Acacia Creek

Share in your Trestleboard.

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Find it on

As a nonprofit organization, maintaining your lodge’s tax-exempt status is crucial – but complicated.

Grand Lodge can make it easy.

When you sign up for tax preparation services, Grand Lodge will help you file lodge taxes on time and accurately, ensuring you keep your tax-exempt status.

To get started, contact Grand Lodge Financial Services at (415) 292-9170 or

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Question of the month

Last month we asked which activities you structure into your ritual rehearsals. Of those that responded:

  • 79% - Refreshments
  • 74% - Socializing period
  • 42% - Time for focusing on just movement, just delivery, or just meaning
  • 37% - Partner work or smaller breakaway groups
  • 37% - Requests for which group piece to practice
  • 37% - Review of California ritual updates
  • 11% - Movement warm-ups
  • 5% - Vocal warm-ups
  • 5% - Closing activity (ex. song or recitation)

Here's your next question.



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Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000