Fraternal benefit society
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with North America and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2013)|
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Friendly society. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2013.|
Fraternal Benefit Societies or Fraternals are not for profit membership organizations that have a representative form of government and are organized through a lodge system  to carry out social, intellectual, educational, charitable, benevolent, moral, fraternal, patriotic or religious purposes. Fraternals provide members with life insurance and other financial protection benefits in accordance with state law and use the earnings to fund member-supported community activities. Fraternals are chartered by state law and have been exempt from income tax under Section 501(c)(8)  of the U.S. Tax Code since 1909.
Fraternal Benefit Societies trace their lineage back through mutual benefit societies, friendly societies and eventually to medieval guilds. Many fraternal benefit societies were founded to serve the needs of immigrants and other under-served groups who shared common bonds of religion, ethnicity, gender, occupation or shared values. The first modern American fraternal benefit society was the Ancient Order of United Workmen, founded by John J. Upchurch in 1868.
As Walter Bayse wrote in his history of fraternals:
Model Fraternal Code
The Model Fraternal Code which has been adopted in some form by most states defines fraternals as follows:
National Union v. Marlow
As indicated in this case, a fraternal benefit society is required to have a "common bond" among its members. Further, a society is required to specify in its laws the eligibility standards for membership, as well as classes of membership, the process of admission, and the rights and privileges of members.
A fraternal benefit society is operating under a lodge system if it has a supreme governing body and subordinate lodges into which members are elected, initiated or admitted in accordance with its laws. A society has a representative form of government if its supreme governing body is an assembly composed of delegates elected directly by members or intermediate assemblies, or a board similarly elected.
Fraternal benefit societies provide insurance benefits to their members including life insurance and endowments, annuities, disability, hospital, medical and nursing benefits, and such other benefits authorized for life insurers that are not inconsistent with the general fraternal laws.
More than a century after their creation, fraternal benefit societies remain an active part of the U.S. economy. The charitable and volunteer efforts of lodge members significantly impact local communities. There are more than 80 fraternals operating in the United States and Canada today, serving over 9 million members  with $380 billion of life insurance in force. In all the nation’s 70 fraternal benefit societies combined, the U.S. government sees a benefit of $3.4 billion in charitable contributions and social capital annually, according to a 2010 Georgetown University study.
In 2011, members of fraternal benefit societies contributed more than 84 million volunteer hours of service and $380 million to their communities, such as charities and people in need.
Among the activities carried on by these societies are:
- community fundraisers for those in need
- environmental projects
- building Habitat for Humanity homes
- organizing Special Olympic events
- providing wheelchairs
- responding to need for disaster relief.
Fraternals Today and Past
- Vasa Order of America
- Sons of Norway
- Independent Order of Foresters
- Teachers Life
- Faith Life
- Knights of Columbus
- Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Rule 1.501(c)(8)-1, Operating Under the Lodge System, Lodge System Defined". p. 6.
- "501(c)(8) Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Domestic Fraternal Societies". Internal Revenue Service. February 23, 2011. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- "Historical Background and Development of Social Security".
- Statistics of Fraternal Benefit Societies, 117th Edition (2011); American Fraternal Alliance, p. iv.
- Ancient Order of United Workmen - History at Phoenix Masonic Museum
- Walter Bayse. Rochester, N.Y. : Fraternal monitor. p. 39 http://archive.org/details/historyandopera00baysgoog. Missing or empty
- "Model Fratneral Code".
- "National Union v. Marlow 374 F. 775, 778 (1896)".
- Internal Revenue Service (1997-09-24). "Fraternal Beneficiary Society Defined".
- "Modern Fraternal Code Section 6".
- "Modern Fraternal Code Section 2".
- "Modern Fraternal Code Section 3".
- "Modern Fraternal Code Section 16".
- Phillip L. Swagel. Economic and Societal Impacts of Fraternal Benefit Societies date= 2010. p. 5.
- American Fraternal Alliance. "Fraternal Identity Brochure".