The Trustees met in six regular sessions this past year.
Although the investment market was volatile at times this past year, the Grand Lodge investments remained healthy due to the diversity of our investments. Therefore, our returns were realized and investments remain positioned to stay positive for the coming year. We oversee and control the following funds
1. General Endowment Fund
2. Life Membership
3. Facilities Endowment
4. Charity Trust
5. Memorial Fund
6. McClure Trust
Overall, we have seen an increase in the value of these funds. However, we are continually making strides in increasing them over the long term. We are taking into account the fact that our membership numbers are gradually decreasing and that our expenses (which rely heavily upon membership dues) have a tendency to gradually increase. We are cognizant of this and are confident that our expenses during the course of this coming year will be less than budgeted. Accordingly, we anticipate that when we prepare the budget for 2022-2023, it will be more reflective of our actual expenses. The 2021-2022 budget presented by the Finance Committee was a coordinated effort by the Grand Lodge Officers, the Finance Committee and the Trustees. We feel that the budget is sound, reasonable and within the revenues projected for the upcoming year.
We have transferred the MMSAT and Educational Trust funds to the South Dakota Masonic Charities. SDMC is a Section 501(c)(3) organization whereas our Grand Lodge funds are under a Section 501(c)(10). Accordingly, any donations to SDMC are all tax deductible. Although 501(c)(10) organizations are tax exempt, donations to such organizations are not tax deductible unless under strict conditions. Accordingly, we felt that the transfer of these funds to SDMC will encourage more donations.
We have discussed the possibility of individual Lodges pooling their money together in order to earn a higher return. This is still in the early stages of discussion and there are many considerations to take into account in managing those funds. If done, these funds would not be property of the Grand Lodge. The account would be a tenants in common (compared to a joint tenancy) type of ownership between the various Lodges which participate.
We reviewed eight Charity recipient applications, two of which were new and six of which were requesting renewed monthly payments. One of the new applicants passed away before we made any decision. The other will be receiving assistance. The remaining six received increases in the monthly payments they are receiving. This was done to help lessen the impact of cost of living increases and to cover their monthly expenses. Furthermore, especially with the pandemic we have experienced over the past year, we have reached out to the membership encouraging the submission of applications for assistance.
We are proud to say that the financial position of the Grand Lodge remains stable and our investments have continued to grow over the past year.
Chairman, Grand Lodge Trustees