What is a Festival?
A Festival, in general Masonic terms, is the major event held by one of the four Masonic Charities following the fund-raising Appeal run by the host Province over a number of years.
NOTE: From 1st April 2016, the Masonic Charitable Foundation has replaced the four Masonic Charities, namely:
- The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
- The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls & Boys
- The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
- The Masonic Samaritan Fund
Every year, each of these Charities is allocated a Province to organise the Appeal for the Festival to be held in its name. This Appeal culminates in a Festival, normally in the form of a Dinner, at which the Province announces the final total raised and hands over a cheque to the Charity.
Each Masonic Province hosts a Festival approximately every 11 years and the programme for this, known as the Matrix, is determined by Grand Lodge in conjunction with the Charities.
The Province of Sussex is now launching an Appeal, starting in September 2010, which will culminate with the presentation of the monies collected in the Appeal to the Freemasons’ Grand Charity at its Festival in 2017. The date and venue will be discussed with the Freemasons’ Grand Charity at the appropriate time and the Festival will be organised by the Province of Sussex.
Many of you will remember that our previous Appeal in Sussex under this system was for the RMBI. This Appeal started in 1998 and culminated in 2004 with the Festival at the Brighton Centre.
How is the Appeal organised?
The Provincial Grand Master, who is also the President of the Appeal, has set up a Committee under the chairmanship of W.Bro. Tony Davies to co-ordinate the Appeal activities. Area team leaders and Lodge representatives have been appointed to oversee fund-raising and organisation at a local level.
Is there a target for the Appeal?
The Provincial Grand Master has committed on behalf of the Province to endeavour to raise in excess of £2,017,000 and to present a cheque to the President of the Grand Charity when Sussex hosts the Festival of the Freemasons' Grand Charity in Spring 2017.
What is the best way for me to help raise funds?
We encourage every Sussex Mason to support the appeal in whatever way they can. If the majority of the Brethren were to give the equivalent of the price of a pint of beer a week between the launch of the Appeal and 2017 (£3 per week for 7 years) this would achieve a very respectable sum of money towards the Appeal. As ever, the level of donation must be your own decision and the lifestyle, needs and comfort of you, and your family/dependants must be taken into consideration.
Some Brethren might want to do this by making one large donation early in the Festival. This will attract the maximum amount of interest on the donation and, if done under a Gift Aid declaration, the tax can also be reclaimed. All the Gift Aid reclaimed on every donation will be credited to each individual. Others will want to make regular monthly, quarterly or yearly payments by standing order. We strongly encourage UK tax payers to make all donations under a Gift Aid declaration.
You can also help the Appeal by organising or supporting fund-raising events and initiatives in your Lodge or Masonic Hall. Please speak to your Area or Lodge Representative.
How will my contribution be recognised?
Any donation will always be thankfully received and faithfully applied. We will follow the traditional Honorific structure of the Grand Charity, whereby a Brother who has contributed a specified amount to the Festival will qualify as a Steward of the Festival and will be able to buy and wear the Festival Jewel at all Craft and Chapter meetings in the Province. Beyond the level of Steward, other Honorifics are available. Qualification as a Patron or Grand Patron of the Festival is based on higher additional donation levels which will be announced at the launch of the Appeal – these are set by the Freemasons’ Grand Charity themselves. Specific details are available in our Honorifics article.
Who will know how much I have donated?
Only the Provincial Grand Master, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward and his staff have access as to exactly how much each individual donor has contributed. However, the PGM would only ever make such enquiry in an exceptional circumstance. Lodge and Chapter Charity Stewards will maintain their usual records in line with their appointed duty. With the exception of a list of those qualifying for the Festival Jewel, no details of individual donors or their donations will be known to the Festival committee.
What are the advantages of using Gift Aid?
When a UK tax payer makes a donation under a Gift Aid declaration, the Charity is able to reclaim the tax paid on that donation from the UK government. The amount reclaimed will be credited to the donor and his Lodge.
Can fund-raising events like raffles be Gift Aided?
No. Gift Aid tax reclaims are made by the Provincial Charities Office to the Inland Revenue ONLY against cash donations which are made under the terms of a Gift Aid declaration by persons who are payers of Income Tax. To claim tax relief against anything else is ILLEGAL.
How will we know how the Appeal is progressing?
Our web site will have updates from time to time on the progress of the Festival donations as and when revised figures are announced. This is a very busy time for the Charities Office and they will have more than enough to do without calculating the latest figures too often. Each issue of 'The Sussex Deacon' will also have details of Festival activities.
Do we have to give up our charitable efforts for other local good causes?
No. It is important that we maintain the close links with the local community that Lodges have built up over the years through their support of various local Charities. However, the Lodge Charity Steward should monitor if the donations by his Lodge to other Charities will impinge on the Lodge’s aim to reach its target.
What is the Freemasons’ Grand Charity?
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is a grant-making Charity, which supports people in need. Since 1981, the Charity has made grants totalling over £80 million to thousands of individuals and non-Masonic Charities. The work of the Charity continues a commitment to charitable support that began nearly 300 years ago in the earliest days of organised Freemasonry.
Who benefits from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity?
Grants made by the Charity fall into three main categories:
Masonic Grants - to assist Masons and their families, who are experiencing hardship, including the provision of mobility equipment.
Non-Masonic Grants - supporting the important work of national Charities of all sizes, including special programmes of support for Hospices, Air Ambulances and disaster relief work worldwide.
Other Masonic charities - when justifiable needs arise, the Freemasons’ Grand Charity has supported the work of the other three Masonic Charities.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity also operates the Relief Chest Scheme, which helps Lodges and other Masonic organisations to maximise the value of the funds they collect for charitable activities. The Relief Chest Scheme is basically for Lodges/Provinces who do not run their own Provincial Charities Office and a Scheme to administer Gift Aid Claims. The Lodges and Brethren in Sussex are fortunate to be able to use Sussex Masonic Charities which obviates the need to use the Relief Chest Scheme and thus reduces the work level of the Lodge Charity Stewards.
Is any of the Appeal money spent on administration?
No. It is the policy of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity to fund its administrative costs from its investment income. All donations made to the Freemasons’ Grand Charity by a Provincial Festival will be used in direct support of the work of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The overall administration cost of all the four Charities has recently being reduced by centralising the administration activity in a refurbished area of Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London.
Where can I get further information?
Please speak to your Lodge Charity Steward or Festival Representative if you have any additional questions, or contact our Provincial Grand Charity Steward on 01273 325393 during office hours (approx. 9.30 am to 4.00 pm). He, or one of his assistants, will be delighted to help.