Charitable Donations

For many years Masonry in general and the Herts Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Province in particular has raised large amounts of money to support charitable causes. Because of this generosity hundreds of people have benefitted, many of whom we will never meet, but will be eternally grateful for this assistance. Many of these causes are close to home here in Hertfordshire and I would urge all our Lodges to identify and support ‘local’ causes. It should also be noted that the Province will often match a donation by a Lodge to a local charity or good cause up to a maximum of £250 but not to exceed the amount donated by the Lodge. This support is at the discretion of the Trustees.

In order to continue this support we need donations from our members which has always been forthcoming in the past and I know will be continued in the future. A question often asked is how do I make a donation to a Mark Charity or what happens to the money collected in a Mark or Royal Ark Mariner Lodge. There are several options some of which are listed as follows.

(Option 1) The cash collected is handed to the Treasurer and it is paid into the Lodge Bank account. It must be recorded separately from the Lodge General account, normally as the Lodge Benevolent account. It can subsequently be used for any purpose approved by members of the Lodge such as expenses for the Almoner to buy gifts for the widows of past members or flowers etc for members and their families if someone has health problems. It can also be given to a charitable cause approved by the Lodge. It must be remembered that this money invariably earns no interest in most bank accounts.

(Option 2) Many Lodges now have their own Relief Chests. If this is the case the members have an option to place their donation into a Gift Aid envelope which is then handed to the Treasurer or the Charity Steward and paid into the Lodge Relief Chest. The reference number to be used on the envelope is normally the same as the Lodge number. This money again must be recorded completely separate from the Lodge General account. It can subsequently be used for any charitable purpose designated by the Lodge itself. This includes Local or Registered Charities. It cannot be used to pay for gifts for widows of the Lodge or to members and their families if someone falls ill. 

A Lodge Relief Chest is administered by the MCF (the Masonic Charitable Foundation (formerly known as the Grand Charity).The Relief Chest Scheme (RCS) has offices at Great Queen Street, London. The advantages of the Relief Chest Scheme is that any donation is boosted by 25p for every £1 if the donor is a UK taxpayer and the declaration is correctly filled in on the donation envelope. Higher rate taxpayers are also able to claim personal tax relief on donations made via Gift Aid. It is a Charity account run by the RCS for the Lodge. There are no account charges and it pays interest.

The Lodge can also transfer money accumulated in their own Relief Chest to other charitable organisations such as The Mark Benevolent Fund (MBF) in St James‘s  Street, London or The Hertfordshire Provincial Mark Benevolent Fund. 

An alternative method of donating to a Relief Chest is by making a digital donation. This is a simple process. All you need is a smartphone or a computer to make a donation directly to a Relief Chest. The one shown below as an example is – MMM 2061 – The Hertfordshire Mark Provincial Benevolent Fund. All donations are tracked to the Relief Chest and Gift Aid can be collected. You will also receive an email receipt if requested.

How it works

• Scan the QR code with a mobile smartphone camera or click the unique donation URL in a browser

Qr code

Description automatically generated

• Device opens the unique donation page, assigned to our specific Relief Chest

• Select or enter donation amount

• Enter donor details

• Pay by card or mobile pay

• Confirm gift aid. All done!

(Option 3) If the Lodge does not have its own Relief Chest there is an option to place the donation in a Gift Aid envelope which is then handed to the Treasurer or the Charity Steward and paid into The Hertfordshire Mark Provincial Relief Chest – No MMM 2061. Any money paid into this account is held by the RCS and is then distributed to charitable organisations at the discretion of the Trustees of the account ie The Provincial Grand Master, The Deputy Provincial Grand Master  the Assistant Provincial Grand Master and one other nominated Trustee currently V W Bro Trevor Clarke.

(Option 4) An alternative method of making a contribution to The Hertfordshire Mark Provincial Relief Chest is by completing a Regular or Single Donation form and sending it, either direct or via your Lodge or Provincial Charity Steward, to the Relief Chest Scheme, Masonic Charitable Foundation, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ. A copy of the relevant form is available by clicking ‘HERE’ the same form can also be used as an alternative method of making a payment to an individual Lodge Relief Chest

The Hertfordshire Provincial Mark Benevolent Fund is a Registered Charity No 291376. In addition to the Relief Chest, MMM 2061, a current bank account is also held under this name. The latter is administered by the Mark Provincial Treasurer who would prefer any donations to the Province, from individuals who are able to claim Gift Aid, to be made ideally to The Provincial Relief Chest MMM 2061 (as at 3 above) simply because it makes his life much easier by not having to reclaim the tax relief from the Inland Revenue. One-off payments are also perfectly acceptable.

Any money paid into this fund is again distributed at the discretion of the Trustees of the account. The Lodge making the donation does not normally dictate how the money is spent but If the donation is in respect to a specific current appeal being supported by the Benevolent Fund e.g. ‘SERV Herts & Beds Blood Bikes’ this should be made clear to the Provincial Grand Treasurer as should the Lodge name (Mark / RAM and number) to which an individual donor may wish his donation to be credited.  

(Option 5) If the Lodge does not have its own Relief Chest there is a further option to make a donation to The Mark Benevolent Fund (MBF) – Registered Charity No 207610.This is administered by Mark Masons’ Hall at St James’s Street, London. The MBF also have their own ‘Regular Giving’ and Single donation forms. They are available by clicking ‘HERE’  Any money paid into this fund is then distributed by the MBF to Charities that they deem suitable.  Personal or Lodge Honorifics can be claimed from the Mark Benevolent Fund for any money donated as follows.

Donor £100
Vice-Patron £250
Patron £500
Grand Patron £1,000
Grand Patron Gold £2,500
Grand Patron Diamond £5,000

An appropriate jewel or collarette and a certificate will be issued when a qualification is achieved.  Any donation is again boosted by 25p for every £1 donated if the donor is a UK taxpayer and he completes the Gift Aid declaration accordingly.

Whichever form of donation is used it is advisable to inform the Lodge Charity Steward so that he can make a record of your donation. He will then forward that information and any necessary forms to the Provincial Grand Treasurer and or the Provincial Grand Charity Steward.

If you have any queries on any of these matters, please do not hesitate to make contact with your own Lodge Charity Steward or myself and we will do whatever we can to assist you. Finally can I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their generosity and long may it continue.

W. Bro. David P. Horne, P.G.Std.B

Provincial Grand Charity Steward

8th August 2022