In an email to members dated October 4, Frank Guida, Treasurer for Orlando’s Bahia Shriners, painted a dire picture of the organization’s finances: “…our cash has shriveled up. We are broke and we had to make some difficult decisions. As a result, we had to let go one of our valued employees who has been with us for many years.” In 2013, temple membership fell below 2,000 for the first time. Revenues (dues, rentals, circus) are down and expenses are up.
The problems faced by the Bahia Shriners are similar to those facing temples across the country (read our previous post). ARFF is convinced that the Shriners need to modernize to turn around the struggling organization. More than 100 Shrine temples in the U.S. and Canada will sponsor cruel circuses in 2013. In an effort to persuade the organization to improve its image and attract new members, ARFF has launched an online campaign to persuade Shriners International to discourage individual temples from conducting circus fundraisers. ARFF’s petition– www.change.org/petitions/shriners-international-stop-hosting-cruel-circuses — has attracted over 10,000 supporters since its launch in late June.