There are four national Masonic Charities that operate throughout England and Wales and in some cases in the Masonic Districts overseas that are under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England. In 2011 the total amount distributed via Provinces in England and Wales was £17,872,380.
The Freemasons' Grand Charity (FGC) is a grant-making charity which supports people in need. In 2006, it gave grants totalling over £4.6 million. The Charity continues a commitment to charitable support that began nearly 300 years ago in the earliest days of organised Freemasonry. All of the money distributed is provided by Freemasons and their families, mainly through an annual contribution made by individual Masons and fundraising 'Festivals' held each year.
Grants fall into three main categories:
- Masonic Grants: Assistance for Masons and their family who are experiencing hardship, including the provision of mobility equipment;
- Non-Masonic Grants: Support for the important work of national charities of all sizes, concentrating on medical research, vulnerable people and opportunities for deprived young people, including a special programme of support for Hospices and disaster relief work worldwide; and
- Other Masonic charities: When justifiable needs arise, the FGC will support the work of the other national Masonic charities.
FGC also operates The Freemasons' Grand Charity Relief Chest Scheme, which helps Lodges and other Masonic Organisations to maximise the value of the funds they collect for charitable activities.
Further information is obtainable from www.grandcharity.org
The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys helps children and young people in many ways through a variety of different funds and projects.
The main work of the Trust is to assist Masonic families who have experienced a change in their circumstances that has led to financial hardship. This could be, for example, following the ill health or death of a parent. The main way the Trust helps is by providing ongoing financial support to relieve poverty and advance education. This commitment remains in place until either the young person has competed their education or until the financial circumstances have improved sufficiently.
The Trust also funds TalentAid for gifted young people from Masonic families whose parents may be having difficulty funding this exceptional talent, and Choral Bursaries for young choristers. There are many other smaller funds that can help in all sorts of situations.
A visit to www.rmtgb.org provides more detailed information.
The Masonic Samaritan Fund is still a young Masonic charity. It was established in 1990 for the relief of suffering and sickness in respect of Freemasons, their wives, children or dependants, or the widows, children or dependants of deceased Freemasons. The interests and needs of each applicant will be paramount in determining how and where relief will be granted. The terms of the Trust Deed under which the Fund is required to operate require that relief can only be provided to applicants who demonstrate that the cost of private healthcare would be a financial burden and who are otherwise unable to obtain treatment on the National Health Service without undue delay. The NMSF will support a petitioner who needs general surgery if the wait for NHS treatment is three months or more or will intervene if the wait for cardiac surgery is two months or more.
By 2007, the Fund had supported treatment for over 7,000 individuals ranging in age from 6 months to 104 years. This involved allocating grants totalling over £30 million. Whilst many of the conditions funded via the NMSF may be associated with advancing years - hip and knee joint replacements, cataracts and prostate problems - funding can be available for everything from scans to major heart surgery. Although painful and often distressing, such complaints are not life threatening and often involve a long wait on the NHS. The Fund will not provide support in emergency or life threatening cases where the NHS will deal with it promptly and efficiently.
Applicants do not need to be financially destitute to qualify for assistance. In establishing the financial need NMSF will take account of both income and capital but will not include the value of your home. Allowances are made for certain items of expenditure and for reasonable savings.
Some applicants may be asked to make a contribution towards the overall cost of treatment. Once an application is accepted, the interests of the patient will be paramount and the required treatment will be obtained at whichever hospital is the most appropriate and, if possible, near to where the patient lives.
www.msfund.org.uk contains even more details of the operation of the Fund and how to apply for assistance.
The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution is a major provider of high quality services for older people and over 1,000 Freemasons and their dependants live in their seventeen Homes located throughout England and Wales, many of which are registered for both residential and nursing care. All Homes can accommodate people who may be becoming a little confused but where specialist care for people with mental frailty is needed special house groups within a Home have been created. Over 3,000 people living in the community receive some form of pastoral care. The Care Advice Team visit annuitants and recipients of Masonic Relief Grants at least once and people with particular needs more frequently.
www.rmbi.org.uk is full of more information about the Charity.
Freemasons in England and Wales provide substantial financial assistance to all of the national Masonic Charities through the Festival system. Each year a Province will be 'in Festival' for one of the Charities, that is, each of the Charities will have a supporting Province, and these Festivals normally run for a period of five to seven years. Many millions of pounds are raised in this way.