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Property for use of the Lodges

Aug 13, 2009 05:50 PM
by MKR

Property for use of the Lodges
One of the frequently seen scenarios is that a lodge is started by a handful
of members and then in due course of time, they acquire property to serve as
a meeting place. The lodge continues to grow and over a period of time due
to various reasons, the membership starts shrinking. In this period, the
property value appreciates. Then comes a time when the membership shrinks to
the point that it goes down and at some point the lodge disappears or is
unable to keep up with the maintenance expenses. It is then, the attention
of the Section Headquarters is drawn and usually the property is sold and
the money is kept in the Section treasury and is meant to be used for the
theosophical activities where the property was located. The hope is at some
future time, the lodge will resurrect and the money may be used for the
lodge activities.
In practice, the money sits in the treasury and rarely the lodge is
resurrected. Which means the money is neither used for theosophical work nor
for any charitable or philanthropic purpose. Even if there is a small number
of members become active, still there is the problem. As the saying goes, he
who pays the piper calls the tune. Section leaders may tweak how the money
is spent. Spin is likely to be given for kind of activities favored by the
leaders. Even with all good intentions, human weaknesses being the same
everywhere, there is a high probability that this is the most likely
Would it not be good if the funds sit idle for say 3 years, then it is
distributed for some charitable or philanthropic purpose in the city where
the property was located. I do not think there is any such policy at this
time to deal with funds raised by selling lodge property.
I think it is time for centers or lodges which plan to acquire property
should start thinking about drawing a plan to deal exactly the above type of
If the property is not owned by the TS lodge or center, then there can be no
claim by the Section to take it over and sell it and handle it as described
above. One of the reasons that the property is generally owned by the lodge
is to get tax exemption from Federal and local taxes.
Now there is a solution for the above. The property and assets are owned by
an independent entity which supports theosophical and philanthropic
activities. This entity is outside the control of the TS lodge or the
Section. It can get tax exempt status from Federal and Local taxes. The
entity creation document can specify what should be done if property is sold
and the funds are not used by local lodge within a couple of years. It can
be given away to any local charity; may even feed the homeless, poor and
hungry. The point is that money sitting in the bank does no good to anyone.
It should be usefully spent.
Setting up the above type of entity is something that the donors and others
may want to consider. It can be done and is done everyday. I came across the
above entity type when I was in the middle of a situation with a religious
organization. Thought I should share for the benefit of theosophists.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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