What is a Fraternal Benefit society?
Fraternal benefit societies are not-for-profit membership groups that unite individuals with a common bond, provide them the ability to secure their families’ financial security through a variety of life insurance and investment products, and form one of the nation’s most effective and efficient volunteer networks, delivering billions of dollars of direct financial aid and community service to those who need it most.
Operating through local chapters, fraternals enable their members to carry out charitable, educational, social and other volunteer community initiatives. Each year through this unique structure, members of fraternal benefit societies invest more than 98 million hours in community works and contribute more than $486 million to charitable programs supporting community service projects.
The fraternal business model is unique to North America. It combines the “member owned” characteristic of a mutual insurance company with the “social mission” characteristic of a faith-based or service organization. Together, these two components provide the opportunity for nearly 10 million individuals to secure their families’ financial futures, while also contributing through direct financial assistance and volunteer activities to the health and well-being of the communities in which they live and work.
All fraternal benefit societies must comply with state and federal regulations, with regard to their financial services, and must be licensed by the insurance department of the state or states in which they operate. Fraternal benefit societies are recognized as 501(c)(8), not-for-profit fraternal organizations, by the Internal Revenue Service. The many charitable and benevolent activities of the fraternal benefit system – estimated to be over $2 billion annually – would be severely curtailed if the 100-year-old fraternal tax exemption were repealed. Clearly, fraternals continue to deliver significant value to their members, the hundreds of charitable organizations that benefit from the financial and volunteer support, and American taxpayers more than a century after they were created.
Click here to see a list of our 60 fraternal benefit societies in the United States and Canada.
Director of Public Affairs