Toby Hanson PGM
Grand Lodge of Washington, IOOF
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Everyone who has spent any time with the Order of Business in lodge knows that there’s that line: “Report of the Finance Committee.” Those of us fortunate enough to belong to larger, more active, more informed lodges know all about this mysterious committee and what purpose they serve in the lodge. For the rest of us, though, it’s a mystery. What do they do and why do they do it?
The power to pay bills for the lodge rests with its members. The Treasurer can take no action to pay a bill unless the lodge has voted to pay it, in which case a warrant will be drawn and a matching check will be cut. This means that all the members of a lodge who are present at a meeting will need to review the bills to make sure they’re in order and should be paid by the lodge. That might be practical with small lodges barely making quorum but for larger lodges that’s impractical. To make this review process more practical, lodges have a Finance Committee.
According to the Code of General Laws, the Finance Committee should be appointed by the Noble Grand on the night of Installation of Officers. They shall be responsible for auditing and inspecting the accounts, books, securities, funds, and other property in the hands of the Treasurer, and the books and reports of the Secretaries, and of other officers and committees charged with the receipt and expenditure of money. This means that if anyone in a lodge is responsible for income of the lodge or paying bills of the lodge, the Finance Committee gets to review all of their records.
Having another committee look over all the financial records of the lodge may seem redundant and wasteful. After all, with the Secretary (or Financial Secretary, if there be one) keeping one set of books on income and the Treasurer keeping one set of books on expenses and with both of them reporting at each meeting, is it really necessary to have more people pore over those books? Yes! Two members can easily collude to defraud the lodge and embezzle money. By having the independent Finance Committee review the books and report to the lodge, a lot of problems can be averted.
Furthermore, and getting back to the question at the beginning of this article, the Finance Committee acts as a second check on the desk officers. They review the bills at each meeting on behalf of all the members of the lodge to ensure that the bills are legal and should be paid. When a lodge has thirty or more members in attendance it’s almost impossible for all of them to review the bills. However, three people on a committee can easily review the bills and ensure that they are proper and should be paid by the lodge. That’s why the Finance Committee has a special place in the Order of Business. They are the extra safeguard for the lodge.
Hopefully the information about the Finance Committee and its role and purpose will inform those of you who have been ignorant of it and inspire those of you who’ve never used one in your lodge to institute one. Having a functioning Finance Committee can be a huge blessing to your lodge and a great learning experience as well.
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