WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

We are one of the First Provinces to go into Festival under the new Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).  The MCF has taken over the work of the four central Masonic charities, providing a wide range of grants to Freemasons and their families who have a financial, health and care or family need. The Foundation will also award grants to other charities, medical research studies and disaster relief appeals. We are doing this not only to raise funds but also to raise awareness of the charity and good work it undertakes.  Without our help, the charities would not be able to continue doing their work both nationally and locally in Berkshire.  It is worth noting that Berkshire receives more from the Charities than it donates We mustn’t forget that charity is one of the central pillars of our order.  As I’m sure you remember from the ritual, charity is the distinguishing characteristic of a freemason’s heart. We said that we would cheerfully embrace the opportunity to practice that virtue we have all professed to admire. However, it is not just about raising funds but also having some good fun along the way.  A reminder that freemasonry is just as much about friendship as it is about helping others.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR BERKSHIRE MASONS?

The four Central Masonic Charities provide cradle to grave support to freemasons and their families according to need. The financial cost of this support to Berkshire freemasons has in recent years averaged approximately £220,000 per annum. This means that over an 11-year period – the frequency between Festivals, our members and their families will have received financial assistance from the four Central Masonic Charities totalling in excess of £2.4m. It is quite likely that in the future, our members and their dependents will require an even greater level of support from the new Central Masonic Charity, which will continue to rely heavily on the income from Festival Appeals to fund its work. In summary, during the last 11 years Berkshire masons received £2.4m comparing with donations of £1.68m in last festival. Therefore the Province of Berkshire is a net beneficiary receiving more than they donate.

IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR GIVING

Regular giving is a key component of our 2023 Festival Appeal. A component that we consider to be of utmost importance as it is a straightforward and highly effective way of maximising our chance of meeting both Lodge and individual targets. Whilst it is clear regular giving is important, it is also clear that the sooner someone signs up the better.  For less than a price of a pint of beer a week (say £10 per month), over the full Festival period, an individual would donate £690.  In addition, other meeting donations might amount to a further £125 over the years giving an overall total donation of £815.  Add to this gift aid where applicable and the total is now more than £1,000.  Multiply this by the many Berkshire masons and the importance of regular giving quickly becomes evident.

LODGES WITH EXISTING RELIEF CHESTS

Existing Relief Chests can continue to be used. Money that has been deposited in those Chests for the benefit of the next Festival can be transferred into the PGL of Berkshire 2023 Festival Relief Chest (E2023) at any time using a green voucher. If the funds are to be allocated to individuals for honorific purposes then a Relief Chest Transfer Allocation form, showing the amount that each member is to be credited with, should be used in addition to the green voucher. To assist with monitoring the progress of the Appeal, lodges will be asked to transfer money to the Provincial Relief Chest on an annual basis.

GIFT AID ENVELOPES

Most lodge members will now be familiar with using Gift Aid envelopes, either the PGL of Berkshire 2023 Festival Relief Chest (E2023) ones, the new Provincial Relief Chest (E0160) that have taken over from WMCO or those that are provided by the Masonic Hall where their lodge meets. During Festival 2023, all gift aided donations for the benefit of that Appeal should be made using E2023 gift aid envelopes which are available at Masonic Halls within the Province. The envelopes, together with a cheque made payable to “The Freemasons’ Grand Charity” for the total amount donated and an envelope verification form (also available at the Halls), should be sent to the Grand Charity at Freemasons Hall. The total amount plus gift aid will then be credited to the Festival account and also added to the lodge total and that of the individual member. When a member visits a lodge and makes a donation using an E2023 envelope, the amount donated will be credited to that lodge but will also be added to the total donated by that member for individual honorific purposes. Envelopes must be completed in full and the donor should add his own lodge number (not the number of the lodge that he is visiting) in the space provided.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER CHARITIES DURING FESTIVAL?

Whilst it is hoped that lodges will focus their efforts on raising money for the Festival, it is important to remember that they may wish to still give support to other Charities of their choice. Any such donations can be made using the new Provincial Relief Chest (E0160) envelopes that have taken over from WMCO envelopes. These are similar to the Festival envelopes but distinguished by the E0160 reference on the front.  These envelopes, together with a cheque made payable to “The Freemasons’ Grand Charity” for the total amount donated and an envelope verification form (again available at the Halls), should be sent to the Grand Charity at Freemasons Hall. In addition, the Provincial Charity Steward should be informed as to where the funds are to ultimately go. If you do not let him know, no payment can be made.

LADIES AND PARTNERS

Our wives and partners have a crucial role to play and, whenever possible, should be invited to events when members of the Charity visit the Province.  If our ladies and partners feel included they will be supportive, may increase the value of their donations and even encourage friends and family to attend events. Wives and partners might sometimes organise their own events to support the Festival and this is to be wholly encouraged.  It is vital therefore that they are made fully aware of all aspects of the Festival Appeal and they should understand their potential to make a significant difference to the final total. Ladies and partners involvement is to be encouraged at every turn.

HOW CAN A MEMBER BE ENTITLED TO WEAR A FESTIVAL JEWEL?

He will be entitled to wear a Festival Jewel if he contributes £600 (plus any tax relief plus tax relief if he is a tax payer). This could be in a single donation of £600, or any multiple donations adding up to £600. By setting up a Regular Payment Promise (RPP or the old covenant) for at least £10 per month for 5 years, he will be entitled to wear the Festival Jewel as soon as the first D/D payment has been taken out. 

IF ONE OF MY MEMBERS IS A MEMBER OF MORE THAN ONE LODGE, IS HE EXPECTED TO SIGN UP FOR £10 PER MONTH TO EACH LODGE?

No. He is not expected to, but of course if he wishes to, it would be gratefully received.

ONE OF MY MEMBERS IS A MEMBER OF 3 LODGES AND WISHES TO SUPPORT EACH ONE. CAN HE SPLIT THE REGULAR PAYMENTS BETWEEN THEM?

Yes. He might choose to set up 3 RPP’s contributing £4 to each Lodge per month. This way each Lodge is supported evenly and because he is contributing at least £100 per moth for 5 years he will be entitled to wear the Festival Jewel.

WE HAVE SAVED MONEY IN OUR RELIEF CHEST AND WISH TO DONATE IT TO THE FESTIVAL. CAN THE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OUR INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS BE RECOGNISED FROM THIS TOWARDS A JEWEL?

Yes. You will need to complete a form detailing how much each member has paid within the total, but this can then be allocated to the member. Once the member has contributed £600, he will be entitled to wear the Festival Jewel.

A MEMBER HAS SIGNED UP TO AN RPP FOR £10 PER MONTH. WHEN AND HOW WILL HE RECEIVE HIS FESTIVAL JEWEL?

As soon as the first D/D payment has been taken. The Provincial Secretary will be notified by the MCF and he will either post the Jewel out directly to the member or it can be picked up from the Provincial office.

DOES THE JEWEL COST ANYTHING EXTRA TO BUY?

No. The Jewel has no additional charge if the member has signed up.