Last night Braden Lodge had it's annual finance meeting to determine dues for the upcoming year. Treasurer David Allison presented the numbers from last year as well as projections for the current year and two years going forward. These projections will be made available in the Member's section of the website.
Though we had been in the black last year, a variety of factors changed this year that resulted in a projected budget deficit going forward. The biggest factor was that our investments had been centered around oil pipelines which were generating significant dividend income. However, with the fall of oil prices, and the resulting curbing of domestic oil production, the need for new pipelines has correspondingly diminished. With the stock value falling, and no turn around in sight, the trustees opted to divest from that stock and seek other investments. It's still early and consequently difficult to predict the ultimate fruitfulness of the new investments, but based on the first four months of this year, it looks like our dividend income will be down somewhat from the previous levels.
Additionally, some expenses have gone up. We raised the Secretary's gift this year and started paying the Cooks as well. The rent that we pay Arcana is also going to be going up a bit (it had been extremely low). All this resulted in possible deficits of $1,000 to $3,000/year going forward depending on a variety of variable factors (performance of investments, how many new members join, how many donations are received, etc.)
For the most part the brothers had three options to choose from. A) Raising dues B) Raising money via other means C) Channeling more of our investment money into expenses and away from reinvestment. It was generally agreed upon that the third option was not a good long term strategy. Regarding dues, to cover the expenses going forward, they would have to go up by at least $10/year and potentially up to an additional $25/year. However, in the past, a large rise in the dues did not bring about additional revenue as fewer brothers were able to keep up with the increase. So ultimately it was resolved that we would use the next year to attempt some fundraising activities.
Last year Braden put on a Halloween event called "A Bump in the Night" that was part haunted dinner party and part puzzle room. It was done as a fundraiser for Arcana's building fund and raised $1,150. Building upon that success and spreading it out over two weekends, instead of just one, we have the potential to raise roughly $4,000 in that one fuindraiser alone. There has also been talk of reviving the Como Roast Beef Dinner which could probably be expected to raise $500 to $1,000. We also are considering a program to reward brothers who opt to voluntarily pay above the required $74 dues amount (Did you know that 100 years ago, the typical standard for dues was considered to be one week's wages?)
We are optimistic that with the help of all the brothers in working and promoting these fundraisers, we can not only cover our shortfalls, but also raise additional money for our scholarship and Brother's Relief Fund, while keeping membership affordable for all of our brothers.