We are the largest fraternal benefit society in the United States. As such, we have a unique ability to work with and through our members to carry out our mission of improving lives.
What's a Fraternal Benefit Society?
At the beginning of the 20th century, life insurance was a largely unfamiliar and unaffordable concept. Fraternal benefit societies were formed so people with a common bond – typically religious, ethnic or occupational – could help one another when tragedy struck.
Fraternal benefit societies also provided opportunities for people to socialize and helped recent immigrants acclimate to America. Members belonged to local "lodges" or meeting places where they could come together as a community and celebrate their common bond.
Official definitions of a fraternal benefit society:
- The IRS defines a fraternal benefit society as "one whose members have adopted the same or a very similar calling, avocation, or profession ... working in union to accomplish some worthy object." The IRS also notes that members of a fraternal band together as a society to "aid and assist one another and promote the common cause" and engage in activities of a "beneficial and fraternal character."
- The National Fraternal Congress of America (a trade group) defines it as a membership organization united around a unique common bond. And it must offer members fraternal benefits including insurance. The common bond of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is Christianity.
To be exempt from income tax, a fraternal benefit society must also "operate under the lodge system," which means having its members belong to subordinate units that are "largely self-governing." In our case we call them chapters.
Fraternal Benefit Society
A not-for-profit organization that provides insurance to its members and operates for social, intellectual, educational, charitable, benevolent, moral, fraternal, patriotic or religious purposes for the benefit of its members and the public. These organizations operate under the lodge system, which means a member of the society is a member of a local chapter of the society. Fraternal benefit societies have representative governments, and members share a religious, ethnic, vocational or other common bond.