About Berkshire 2023 Festival

What’s It All About…

Each Province is asked once in every 11 years to collect funds for the Masonic Charitable foundation. The Festival System in English Freemasonry has been developed to rotate specific fund raising evenly around the Provinces. There are 44 provinces that follow this festival cycle supporting the MCF. Previously, each Province supported the four individual Masonic Charities that combined to form the MCF.

A Festival Appeal is designed to last for five years or so, and we have the advantage of knowing in advance when our Festival will end and which charity we will be supporting, which enables us to plan in advance. It is then up to the Provincial Grand Master to decide when we start and that has been decided as 2018, giving us a five year festival.

We have the privilege of being one of the first Provinces to raise funds in the name of the newly formed MCF. Our Lodges’ charitable actions will need to be directed towards the Festival to ensure a successful outcome. We are not asking you to stop your other charitable work which, as Masons, we do so well in supporting, but are asking you to focus your main efforts in supporting the charity which supports us so well.

Using Gift Aid Envelopes

Understanding The Gift Aid Rules And Benefits…

Gift Aid envelopes are an excellent way of enhancing the value of cash or cheque collections by allowing tax to be reclaimed.

The Relief Chest scheme produces its own envelopes and supplies are available from the Festival Secretary. Most Masonic Halls  hold a small stock.

Gift Aid Envelopes can be used in various ways, e.g.

Used as the lodge collection. Typically, the envelopes are placed on the table before the meeting, including those of visitors if desired. Unused envelopes can be collected afterwards.

At ‘White Table’ meetings, ladies, other Masonic and non-Masonic guests can make Gift Aid donations, as long as they are U.K. tax payers.

When used for lodge Collections, putting envelopes on the chairs in the Lodge Room prior to the meeting gives Brethren an opportunity to complete them in advance of their collection. However, to ensure that the envelopes are completed correctly, the Charity Steward should explain how this should be done beforehand.

It is good practice to have at least two members present, when the envelopes are opened. Although it is not always a requirement of the charity, it is sensible to write the value of the donation on the face of each envelope as it is emptied and check that the required details have been entered by the donor.

Once cash and cheque donations have been reconciled with the values written on the envelopes, the total amount can be banked and a cheque from the Lodge or Chapter raised in the name of the charity.

For most charities, it is unnecessary to compile a list of individual donors, although the Lodge or Chapter may wish to do this for its own records.

All that is required to comply with HMRC guidelines is for the Lodge or Chapter to complete a Donor Verification Schedule, which verifies the source of donations covered by a cheque, not drawn on the donors’ own accounts. Then the schedule, cheque and all of the Gift Aid Envelopes or tear-off slips, as appropriate, can be posted to the relief chest, 60 Queen Street, London.
Step-by-step instructions and the 2021 Festival Donor Verification Schedule are included in Appendix 10 of the festival manual. They illustrate the simplicity of the Gift Aid envelope system, which is common to most charities.

All the money from a collection using Gift Aid envelopes is credited to the individual and the Lodge hosting the collection.


Learn More About Personal And Lodge Honorifics

Personal Honorifics
There is only one festival jewel and to be awarded it you have to make a donation to the Festival of £600. This can be done in two was; first by a one-off donation of £600; or second by setting up a regular giving plan. You are able to set plans up for any amount over regular intervals so that the total contribution reaches £600. The minimum you can donate is £10 per month for the period of the festival.

Once you have either made your one-off donation or completed your regular payment promise, these details will be sent to the Provincial Office on a monthly basis by the MCF. The jewels will be posted to you once the Office receives this notification

Lodge Honorifics

A series of honorifics has been established to reward individual Lodges for their contribution to the Festival. These can be from lodge raffles or other such events but, in addition, any Lodge member who donates to the festival jewel, his contribution will be counted to his Lodges total. The awards are based on a per capita contribution and the number of members in a Lodge is fixed as per the Grand Lodge records as at 31st May 2018. Any additions or losses after this date will not be taken in to consideration in calculating the per member contribution.

When a lodge attains the Bronze or Silver award this will be recognised by a presentation to the lodge by a member of the Provincial Executive. On reaching the Gold level, the award will be made by the PGM and for Platinum, the Lodge will be presented with this at the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting.