Are you getting enough for your money ?

Published on by Winnie

On October 30th Chris Hoddap, well known American author specialising in masonic subjects (Freemasonry for Dummies, etc), wrote in his blog that the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was proposing to more than double the annual fees a Brother pays in that state from US$29 (21€)to US$60 (44€).


Reading these figures I was tempted to think Hodapp had forgotten a zero. Further investigation reveals his figures to be correct. It also seriously raises the question of whether GLNF members are getting value for what they pay. Or, more simply, are we paying too much at the GLNF ?


The conclusions of the Bellot audit, ordered by Maître Legrand, suggest that GLNF members have been paying about 20% too much for some years, the excess having built up cash reserves far above what is considered usual prudential practice. No doubt some of the excess has been used to finance the plethora of property acquisitions the GLNF has undertaken in recent times behind a screen of SCIs and other business structures, the now widely publicised web of 27 satellite companies.


Let’s try to compare what is comparable. We are only talking about Lodge dues, not regalia, not festive board, not contributions to masonic charities, etc. In 2009 – 2010, the last time that dues were legally called,  a grass roots member of a single Lodge out in provincial France paid 300 euros, distributed between his Lodge, his Province and Pisan. Readers must bear in mind that the bigger you get, the more economies of scale can be achieved. And even if the costs of such functions as the Annual Grand Lodge on the first Saturday in December are necessarily high, when they are split 43000 ways, the result should be reasonable.


LML in English decided to contact Brethren outside of France to see how much they pay. Let’s be realistic. Comparing the membership fees of the Grand Lodge of San Marino with the GLNF is an insult to your intelligence. So, we decided to contact the UGLE and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Same profile, grass roots member, single Lodge, etc.


The Brother contacted in England, member of a Lodge in a small town the south western counties, pays £150 (175€), split between Grand Lodge £65 (76€), Province £15 (17.50€) and his Lodge £70 (81.50€).


WBro. Jeff Gardiner, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, is a member of 14 Lodges in and around Boston. Asked to pick a middle of the range Lodge, plus the soon to be introduced Grand Lodge fee of US$60, he came up with a total of US$120 (88€) split equally between the two.


Our American Brethren pay a mere 29% of what we pay, UGLE members 58%. We could spend hours trying to analyse why GLNF members pay so much more than Brethren in similar Grand Lodges (there are those who suggest we get little for what we pay) . And no doubt the analysis would point up a number of factors that would bring the figures closer. But the fact remains that GLNF Brethren are paying very dearly for what they get, far more than our English or American Brethren. No doubt, with the publication of these comparative figures, the production of unauthorised glossy magazines,  filled with tacky photos of a layman dressed in a big blue apron, lacking the obligatory legal notices and sent out in transparent wrapping revealing our membership to one and all will stick further in the Brethrens' craw.

Less blue aprons with gilded baubles, less Hollywood style receptions, less first class air tickets and 5 star hotels, and more true Masonry, that's what we want. With any luck we might even see a proposition from Pisan for a lower “exceptional contribution” !

 But, no matter what, no AG, no money !!!

Additional information has arrived since first publishing this article. And all the figures confirm our conclusion :

Hong Kong 235€

Belgique 180€

Chartres (loge libre) 150€, hébergée

Canada, numerous replies ranging from 130€ to 200€

Florida 62€, Grand Lodge only (would be roughly double with Mother Lodge dues)

Switzerland (Suisse Alpina),around 200€

Ivory Coast, between 200€ and 240€


Comment on this post

etheric 12/02/2011 20:39

Sorry Baldrick. In UGLE there is no postal vote for anything, ever. Indeed it is rare that anything is ever discussed at Grand Lodge and often a meeting only lasts 45 minutes! When was a
proposition put by Grand Lodge ever last defeated? - around 80 years ago! Like mother, like daughter

Winnie 12/04/2011 11:51

Brother Baldrick,

You saved your train ticket, you avoided the rain but you missed a great moment for the opposition to the Pisan tyrant and the most pathetic moment in the
entire history of Freemasonry anywhere in the world. Ephesse = Fiasco Show !!!

Baldrick 11/16/2011 11:19

I think it's only fair to compare like for like, and whilst Grand Lodge fees in the UK are considerably lower than GLNF cotisations you must take into account several factors:
Firstly there are 250,000 contributing brethren in the UK compared to France's 43,000
Secondly many Lodges in the UK either own their temples outright (so there are no ongoing mortgage costs) and/or they rent accommodation be it in a Pub, a Hotel or somewhere else suitable for Lodge
Furthermore there is not the insistance that voting delegates MUST be present at Grand Lodge meetings. This is a huge and unnecessary burden on both brethren and their lodges. The cost of
travelling (and accommodation)for a visit to Paris from the provinces can be ridiculously expensive, just for the purpose of being there and to vote. In the UK you can vote by post, and why not?
The rest is just "cinéma", and whilst I actually enjoy the ceremonial I can't justify spending €300 or more just to witness it.

It's no wonder many brethren and Lodges want to get away from this hugely expensive and unnecessarily bureaucratic system.

Winnie 11/16/2011 16:12

Brother Baldrick,

This sort of exercise is always difficult. That is why I tried to compare apples with apples, that is, purely Lodge fees, not rent, not festive board, not
charitable contributions, etc. You will never achieve an exact comparison but the result is that the GLNF Brethren are paying far more in dues than Brethren elsewhere. The article is confirmation
of what we knew already. Now we've put Stifani & Miss Monique on notice.