Fraternal "Clubs"/"Lodges" and what they do? (Eagles, Elks, Moose, etc.)

One of those weird-assed questions that popped into my head after hearing a radio commercial . . .

You have your Freemasons. You have your VFW. There’s the FFA and the 4-H. You have your religious clubs. However, there’s a smattering of other ones that I’m not sure what they do, or what they are. Just a handful for instance:

[li]Moose Lodge[/li][li]Elks Club (F.B.O.E., I think . . .)[/li][li]The Shriners (which IIRC, are a religious group that raises money for children’s hospitals through the racing of comically funny little cars in parades)[/li][li]The American Legion (a veterans group, but how different from the VFW?)[/li][li] (Insert your club here.)[/li][/ul]
Does anyone have a cite that explains the differences between these? I know they can’t be just a bunch of old men getting together just do drink beer and talk about the farm season. Is there a charter for each specific group? Do they get tax breaks?

I’m totally curious now. I’ve seen clubs like this have “lodges” or halls all over the place. What’s the news?

Genuinely curious. . .

I’ve wondered about this myself… But I don’t have the time to really research it, so unfortunately I can’t really give you any kind of answer, just my support!

With my functional knowledge of fraternities and other similar organizations, I presume they exist for much the same reasons as any other social club - get together, have social functions, BS, hang out, occasionally do charity and community service, etc. Basically, something to do. It is amazing what belonging to an organization can do to your life.

Some of those groups (vet groups, the ones targetted at the elderly) also provide support groups, connections to things like medical resources, etc, but mostly I think it just helps them to stay sane and active instead of being lonely.

You forgot about the Rotary Club. I get dizzy just thinking about them.

You forgot about the Rotary Club. I get dizzy just thinking about them.

Their newer members are known as the ** touch tones.**

I can’t comment on many of the other organisations (Elks, Eagles, Lions, etc), but I do know a little about Rotary. I’m not a Rotarian (though I’m young, and aspire to be one should I ever meet the membership criteria), but I was a Rotary exchange student and I did learn a bit about them during that time. Rotary is a public service organisation specifically targetted towards professional, entrepreneurial and managerial people so that it also functions as a networking group. They support work on a local level (the building of public parks is a common local activity, in my home town, they were big into the creation of sports fields) and also on an international level (the eradication of polio is something that Rotary is heavily involved in, they run one of the world’s largest student exchange programs). Unlike some of the other organisations, Rotary has no secret fraternity past, secret handshakes or hidden rituals ( conspiracy theory: unless they’re hiding all that incredibly well and are really the illuminati ), they’re pretty aboveboard about their operations and membership.

Here is a link to the Moose International website that can answer most of your questions.

The Moose Lodge is a non-profit service and social fraternity. Nationally, we raise money for Mooseheart, a home for disadvantaged children in Illinois, and Moosehaven, a retirement home in Florida. Locally, my Lodge awards $6,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors, we provide free winter hats and gloves to elementary schools (a big deal in Alaska), food baskets to the disadvantaged at the holidays, we sponsor a Boy Scout troup, we put on kids events like the annual bike safety rodeo, cook an annual Thankgiving dinner at the senior center, we “adopted” a mile of highway for cleanup service, and we also support other local charitable organizations like the food bank, Boy’s and Girls clubs, and just about anyone who presents us with a worthy cause. The funds to support all of these services comes from the sales in our restaurant and bar, as well as the proceeds from our charitable gaming permit (rippie tickets, raffles, etc.)

To maintain our tax exempt status we must limit access to our social quarters (restaurant and bar) to members in good standing, but membership is reasonable and open to any one over the age of 21 of good character. We sponsor a variety of social events for our members, including an annual golf tournament, pool and dart leagues, monthly dances with live music, barbecues (in summer), potlucks and seasonal parties like the upcoming Superbowl party. Our membership is not just a bunch of geezers either; we are a family center with lots of activities for the kids, and cheap prices (like 75 cent taco nite and $1 burger nite every week) that families flock to. The Moose Lodge is a great place to meet people, enjoy yourself and help others in the community.

Fear Itself, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for. Thank you! But what about the others?

And jacquilynne, you remind me. Who are the “Jaycees”? Are they similar to the Rotary Club? And the “Lions” too . . .

Hooo doggie, this could get interesting.

I can speak for the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Like Fear Itself said about the Moose, we’re a fraternal and social non-profit organization (specifically, a 501(c)(10)) and therefore exempt from Federal tax for all activities which directly relate to our exempt purpose, which is to provide social and recreational facilities for members, their families, and bona-fide guests. Some clubs run unrelated businesses that are open to the public, like restaurants and bowling alleys, but these must be accounted for separately and income from these activities is subject to Federal tax. Bingo is the only exemption to this rule - public Bingo is not taxable for a 501(c)(10), which is why a lot of us run Bingo games. It’s a significant source of revenue.

On the other hand, we are subject to most other taxes, like payroll taxes for our employees, sales tax, and property taxes. This will, of couse, vary from state to state.

I could go on and on about this facinating financial stuff :wink: - I’m the bookkeeper/accountant for our local Aerie (as FOE lodges are called.)

We also donate to local charities and national FOE charities through various fund-raising activities. For example, my local Aerie sponsors a state golf tournament which in the last seven years has raised over $30,000 for various charities. We put on a big free dinner on Christmas day, open to everyone, for people (especially older folk) who might otherwise be alone.

Membership is open to all. Many people think we still discriminate against non-whites. That used to be true - I’ve seen application forms from the Fifties where you affirm that you are a member of the Caucasian race - but all that crap ended about 40 years ago. Even my small-town-Wyoming Aerie has a surprisingly diverse membership.

I guess the thing I like most about being a member is having a nice, clean, friendly bar where I won’t be hassled and an excess of rowdy behavior isn’t tolerated. I can take my Mom there and know there won’t be some obnoxious drunk screaming the F-word in her ear. And if I’m out of town, I know I can go to the local Aerie and get a warm welcome and find congenial people and pleasant surroundings.

Find out more at And if you check out the message board there, you might notice a certain familiar user handle …

As far as the Elks go (B.P.O.E - Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks) their main focus is the Henry Anna children’s hospital. Back in the day there was an actual hospital where sick children could get the care they need free of charge, now there is a roaming group of nurses and doctors that will go to hospitals and to houses to give children the care they need. The Elks also are huge givers of college scholarships and the second largest giver of scholarships behind the government. I am not a member though so I can’t really speak for them. My father is an Exulted Ruler (grand poo-baa) and I was employed by an Elks lodge for quite a while as a bartender. Check out for more info.

The Moose lodge I lived near in Athens OH mostly sponsored drunken brawls and drug dealing.

I met a Moose lodge member in Dayton who has assured me that most such lodges are not of such horrible quality.

To be a Shriner, one must be a Freemason. The Shriners do various things, their most notable service being the free hospitals.

Trip, grampa’s in Lions, has been an active member for fifty or more years, and has been their program director for much of that time.

While their website will give more detailed information, in a nutshell, Lions is dedicated to raising money to fight blindness and other eye problems (if you’ve ever wondered what to do with your old eyeglasses, now you know - give them to a local Lions group. They’ll have the lenses re-ground and give them to someone who needs but can’t afford them). Minnesota Lions raised a good portion of the money used to build the Eye and Ear clinic at the University of Minnesota and continue to donate funds to and maintain the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank.

More locally, grampa’s group purchased and and then donated two chunks of land for city parks, give out a few thousand dollars a year in scholarships, donate to local charitable organizations, and even has a couple of wheelchairs and a motorized scooter for use by the community.

They also throw one hell of a party at the annual conventions. :smiley:

As to the Elk’s lodges near where I live, They are dodges around the local dry county ordinances. Any Elk can go there to buy hard liquor by the drink, and membership is vveerrrryyyy easy to come by. At the restaraunts, not even beer is served. And Beer is the strongest thing to drink you can get at a bar or convience store.
But they also give out Scholarships and such, and don’t cause no harm, so more power to 'em, I say. Dry county laws are stupid, IMHO.

According to the Lodge Locator at, there is no longer a Moose Lodge in Athens, OH. Probably for good reason; if the national organization gets wind of any bad conduct, they pull the charters pretty quickly.

I can speak for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks , being a past Exalted Ruler.

Yes, we have social quarters (clubs, bars, whatever…). Yes, we have members who join just for that benefit.

But there is so much more to the Elks. Like the fact that we are the second largest granter of scholarships to high school students in the United States (next to the Federal Government). And no Elks affiliation is required for the student’s family.

We sponsor Veteran’s programs. The BPOE (not FBOE) is an American organization (although there is a Canadian Elks organization). One of our mottoes is: “As long as there is a veteran alive, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget him or her.”

Our State Organizations each have their own projects. While one State may sponsor a youth camp for disadvantaged kids, another may operate a Children’s Hospital. In California/Hawaii we provide therapists for handicapped children whose parents cannot afford it. We employ the therapists, provide their transportation, and pay their expenses. Once again, no Elks affiliation is required for this.

The Elks started observing Flag Day in 1907. It wasn’t until 1949 that President Truman, himself an Elk, made it a national observance.

Several celebrities and sports figures have been Elks through the years.

And unlike some organizations, the Elks is open to all American citizens. The only requirements are at least 21 years of age, an American citizen, and a belief in God (or a Higher Power).

While the past years have been slow membership years, we are slowly reversing the decline in our membership. We have no secrets. You don’t have to wear any special clothing or hats or the like to be a member. No horns, no Elk calls, nothing strange.

I invite you to check out the finest organization in the USA. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them. My e-mail is listed, or just leave your question in this thread.


Another Elk checking in… (Past Exalted Ruler, Beverly MA Lodge #1309)

The Elks have approximately 1.2 million members IIRC, and did close to 200 million dollars of charitable and community service work last year.

Each local Lodge is chartered by the Grand Lodge in Chicago, IL.

The headquarters grounds in Chicago also houses the Elks Veterans Memorial, a beautiful memorial structure, built in 1926 and recently renovated at great expense and to wonderful effect. A recommended visit for all vets, Elks, and anyone else in the Chicago area!

The Grand Lodge controls the charter of every local Lodge, and each Lodge is operated under the supervision of a deputy to the National President, who has the power to suspend or revoke a Lodge’s charter for failure to support the charitable programs of the Grand Lodge, impropriety, corruption, bankruptcy, etc. This oversight and direction is part of what keeps a Elks Lodge from becoming just another drinking club.

As far as what Elks do, Rico covered a lot of ground… Each state’s Lodges have a major project that they run together. Massachusetts, having so many colleges and universities, chose scholarships as its major project. In 2000, the Mass. Elks Scholarship Fund awarded $400,000 in grants to students.

Some things Lodges tend to pride themselves on are charity at the community level, and hospitality to visiting members from other Lodges and their guests. We also try to avoid the “bucket o’ blood” aspect of some bars. A nice place to bring your SO where you can leave your change on the bar and it’ll be there at the end of the night (the SO, on the other hand… that’s a bit iffier :slight_smile: )

Some Lodges, particularly in Florida and Hawaii, are quite posh, with golf courses, restaurants, pool/patio areas, gyms. Being a member of any Lodge admits you to any other Lodge of the 2,200 across the country, which can be a nice thing when traveling.

That’s my piece, check out or visit my Lodge’s home page at

Hey! What about us Turtles? :smiley:

You bet your sweet ass I am. :wink:

my grandfather drug me to many a moose lodge and vfw hall where i played with the shuffleboard or threw darts by myself while he sat at a bar with 2 or three others drinking and smoking in a very large room of seemingly wasted space.
nothing ever happened there except for getting sauced and laughing at eternally repeated jokes, and life was good…good
and stagnant, that’s how they liked it.
i couldn’t wait to get out of there and live/breathe again.
my grandfather would’ve loved to have been stuffed and propped up in there forever.

There is also Kiwanis International. It mostly does charity work although there are social aspects to it also. I’m not sure what membership requirements are but it is open regardless of sex or race. They do a lot of charity work, and sponsor Key Club (which I was part of), Circle K, and a few other offshoots. Key Club is really just like a high school form of Kiwanis and Circle K is the college form. The local Kiwanis in my town didn’t have a hall but met every week in a conference room at Golden Corral (a restaurant). Here’s their website.