Charity is one of the cornerstones of Freemasonry
In this section of the website you will find the latest news and information relating to the Province of West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival.
Click on the + – buttons below to expand the text to read answers to frequently asked questions about the MCF 2021 festival.
Approximately every 10 years each of the 47 Provinces in UGLE holds a Festival, and a charitable dinner and celebration, at the culmination of the festival appeal period held for the benefit of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
During the period of a Festival it is anticipated that all brethren and companions will do their very best to support the Provincial Grand Master’s appeal in support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Each Province allocates several years to a festival, so that the members of lodges and chapters may accrue a significant amount, to support the charity in Festival and qualify for a Stewardship or other honorific. Our current West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival is for four years and will end in May 2021.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation provides support to Freemasons, their families and the wider community which was previously provided by the four Masonic charities.
More information on the MCFs fantastic work can be found on their website.
The appeal is organised at Provincial level. The Festival President is the Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison and its Vice President is Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, David Winder.
A festival committee is overseeing the Festival Appeal. It’s chairman is Philip Preston the Provincial Grand Charity Steward. Philip heads up a team assisted by Geoff Saul who is the secretary together with John Wrennall the assistant secretary, Chris Butterfield represents the Royal Arch, Peter Lockett represents group chairmen, Mark Holloway is the communications officer and David Randerson is responsible for print. They liaise between the MCF and the group chairmen, charity stewards and festival representatives.
The regional charity stewards oversee and assist the 19 group charity stewards, and are a very important part of the festival structure.
On general Festival matters and in the first instance, always speak to your lodge charity steward or Festival representative. If he cannot answer your question, he will seek advice from your group charity steward / Festival representative in all matters except personal donation levels. If the group officers cannot help, they will obtain an answer from their regional charity steward.
Each Masonic hall should be stocked by your group charity steward with direct debit forms, gift aid envelopes and other information, plus a wealth of information is contained on this website and in your Festival booklet. If you cannot find that which you need, contact your group charity steward whose details are in the group diary.
If any lodge would like a talk or seminar, to ensure that it is properly co-ordinated with others which may be held in the area, it should be organised through your group charity steward / Festival representative. If you want to advertise the meeting, talk to your group publicity officer who may be able to help.
As an individual you can donate to the MCF 2021 Festival, the easiest and simplest way is on a regular basis, preferably monthly by direct debit using the form on the Festival Toolbox page here. Alternatively you could send the MCF a single donation using the Single Donation Form again downloadable on the Festival Toolbox page .
Hopefully your lodge and chapter is operating the MCF white envelope gift aid scheme.
If so you will have an opportunity to donate by this method through your lodge and chapter collections either in the meeting or, in many cases, at the festive board. Similar will apply if you are visiting a lodge or chapter which uses white envelopes – by completing your information on the envelope even if visiting you will be personally credited with your donation and the extra 25% gained by the MCF.
If your lodge, or any you are visiting does not operate the envelope scheme, you can, if the collection is for the Festival still donate. But remember by putting cash into the charity plate, your donation is anonymous and although the lodge /chapter is credited, your donation will not be allocated to you personally and the MCF cannot therefore claim an additional 25% towards their work.
The MCF have teamed up with Justgiving to provide an easy way for Provinces, lodges, chapters and individuals to donate especially when using credit or debit cards and to assist event organisers to market their event and encourage sponsorship. Click on the set up a Fundraising page on the left of this page.
Help the Province raise as much money as possible and support any fund raising initiatives by your lodge, chapter, group or Province. As you have taken the time to look at this website, tell others what you know and encourage them to consider the MCF when donating to charity.
This is a great Province and the MCF is a wonderful charity and we only ask that groups, lodges, chapters and brethren support the MCF 2021 Festival to the best of their ability.
We want to encourage Gift Aid giving. The key to any successful “Festival Appeal” is of course regular giving. brethren are encouraged to donate monthly by using the direct debit form mentioned above and which is readily available to download here.
How much money are we expected to raise? Put another way, is there a target for the Province as a whole?
Although our last Festival Appeal culminating in 2010 for the Masonic Samaritan Fund raised almost £5,000,000, there is currently no target for the Province as a whole. The total amount raised will depend entirely on the generosity and enthusiasm of the brethren, we can only ask that brethren give the maximum within their means, conscience and preference.
A means of obtaining tax relief on money donated to UK charities. Donors must be tax payers in order to qualify for gift aid. The relief was worth an additional 25%. If you give £10 with gift aid, the charity receives £12.50.
They are really very simple: You must be a UK tax payer, and the gift aid tax reclaimed on your contributions must not exceed your tax bill.
If using white envelopes you need to complete the tear off section and place it inside the envelope along with your donation.
What are the rules relating to gift-aiding?
They are really very simple: You must be a UK tax payer, and the gift aid tax reclaimed on your contributions must not exceed your tax bill.
If using white envelopes you need to complete the tear of section and place it inside the envelope along with your donation.
I don’t pay income tax or capital gains tax, what do I do if my lodge uses white envelopes?
Simply put in the money you wish to donate into the envelope, complete your details on the tear off slip in the normal way and leave the gift aid boxes blank.
I don’t want the charity steward or treasurer to know my tax situation, what do I do?
Still do exactly as above complete your details on the tear off slip in the normal way and leave the gift aid boxes blank.
Will there be league tables?
No. We will however be issuing regional charity stewards with statistics showing how each group, lodge and chapter are doing on a per-capita or per Brother basis and as a percentage of each honorific level.
How much am I as an individual expected to give?
We only ask that each individual donates what he can afford, without detriment to his family or connections.
How can I maximise the effect of my own giving?
First, whether you choose to give one or more lump sums, or regularly by bankers order, the earlier you start the better, thus spreading the cost over the maximum period and enabling you to make best use of the effect of a generous compound notional interest rate.
Secondly, if you are a tax-payer, as stated earlier, by gift-aiding your donations.
Thirdly at lodge and chapter collections, by donating using the white gift aid envelopes rather than cash in the charity plate. Remember also that raffle money, even when the raffle is for the MCF, cannot be gift aided.
What happens to the money in my Gift Aid Envelope?
The envelope is opened by nominated members of your lodge / chapter, often the charity steward, Festival representative or treasurer, the contents counted and the amount recorded on the MCF 2021 Record of giving white envelopes spreadsheet.
When all the envelopes have been opened and recorded the total amount is counted by the charity steward, Festival representative or treasurer who pays the cash into the bank and then writes out a cheque for the MCF (The Freemasons Grand Charity), and sends the cheque, empty envelopes and a completed white envelope verification form, to the charity in the pre-paid envelope.
The charity records the total amount and credits the individual group, lodge or chapter. It also records the individual amounts against each individual’s name and if a tax-payer, recovers the tax.
What are the advantages of using Gift Aid Envelopes for the lodge charity collection?
Tremendous! It means that rather than giving anonymously with cash into a charity plate, brethren who are tax-payers are able to gain an additional 25% for the MCF without having to do more than writing their details on an envelope and ticking the gift aid box.
Even non tax-payers and those not wishing to declare their tax situation nor to have tax reclaimed on their donations can use the white envelopes. Non tax-payers should complete the envelope in the normal way and leave the gift aid boxes blank.
My lodge / chapter has run out of forms and envelopes – how do I obtain more?
Apart from the fact that all forms are available for anyone to download from the website, a stock including Gift Aid envelopes will be held by the group charity steward.
I am a lodge / chapter charity steward, how do I contact the my group charity steward.
As mentioned above, preferably by emailing your group charity steward whose details are in the group diary.
How much is my lodge / chapter expected to give?
Lodges and chapters have not been set a target, just levels of honorific at which the Province wishes to recognise the generosity of the membership. It’s entirely up to individual lodges and chapters to decide how much they raise.
How will lodges’ efforts be recognised and when?
It is the festival committees view that lodges, chapters and brethren deserve recognition for their generosity. Each will be awarded honorifics corresponding to level of their donations.
Certificates will be awarded for groups / lodges:
£1,500 = Vice Patron
£3,000 = Patron
£4,500 = Grand Patron
£750 = Vice Patron
£1,500 = Patron
£2,250 = Grand Patron
Certificates will usually be presented by your group chairman or the principal guest at an installation, although if a cabinet member is visiting the lodge / chapter officially or in a private capacity he will be pleased to do so.
The Lodge Secretary and Charity Steward/Festival Contact will be informed by the Festival Secretary when an honorific is attained.
How will individual giving be recognised?
Brethren who reach each of the various qualifying levels will be individually and automatically issued with a Festival Jewel.
At what point may I be entitled to the award of a jewel?
Individuals making donations for jewel patronage will need to donate one of the following amounts: Steward £240 , Vice Patron £480, Patron £720 and Grand Patron £1,200. For each brother, MCF 2021 Festival Secretary will keep a record of any contributions or donations made whether by white gift aid envelopes, single donations, regular donations, wherein you have provided your name when donating. Obviously this cannot include cash collections or raffles where money is donated or paid anonymously.
Donors will also be credited with any promises or pledges to continue to donate by direct debit and when the combined total of donations and pledges has reached the qualifying level, those qualifying will be informed and entitled to apply for a jewel. Thus a direct debit for the remaining available period would immediately qualify for a Festival Stewards Jewel.
I am already making gift-aided donations to the MCF, what do I need to do to ensure that my donations count towards jewel qualifications?
If you are already making gift-aided donations direct to the MCF, they will have allocated to you a unique reference number to ensure that all further donations you make by name will count towards your jewel qualifications.
Where can I find more information as the Festival progresses?
In addition to regular information from your group charity steward / festival representative, keep looking at this page of the website as it will be updated regularly.
In addition, there will be articles posted in the MCF 2021 Festival news page of this website.
In view of the Grand Charity levy included in our subscriptions, is it right to expect us to dig even deeper into our pockets?
We must try to make a clear distinction between the charity dues through Grand Lodge and the donations we are being encouraged to make for the Festival, in support of the MCF as the main source of funding fir the MCF is via festivals.
I have heard that for the duration of the Festival we shall be expected to suspend non-Masonic donations. Is this true?
No this is not true. The Province’s hope, however, is that the emphasis of individuals, groups, lodges and chapters charitable giving for the four years of the festival is directed towards the MCF 2021 Festival.
Although it is accepted that some lodges and chapters do have their own favourite non-Masonic charities, they have the whole period between Festivals to donate to them if they wish. Between Festivals this Province has a proud record of contributing to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and non-Masonic charities.
Charity of course is not only money. Many brethren and their wives / partners give freely of their time to help non-Masonic charities. This volunteer work will surely continue unabated during the Festival.
What if my lodge / chapter committee has decided not to use white envelopes?
The lodge / chapter committee does not have any authoritative powers to determine any matter in respect of the lodge / chapter other than those specifically referred to it by the membership. All lodges and chapters have a duty to process any white envelopes in the manner detailed above that are donated during charity collections or at festive boards.
Why can Raffle money not be Gift Aided?
Two fairly obvious reasons. First if the money for tickets is collected in cash how can the treasurer know how much each brother has contributed and therefore how can he advise the MCF how much tax to reclaim and for whom? Secondly HMRC consider that Gift Aiding applies only to gifts given freely without thought of personal gain.
How will the end of the Festival appeal be celebrated and when?
Masonic Festivals usually conclude with an event to celebrate the culmination of the appeal (in our case this will be some time in 2021). At this event, the total amount raised is announced in the presence of brethren from the Province and distinguished guests, together with their ladies.
It is hoped that in 2021 we will have a Festival celebration to remember, a Festival total of which our great Province will be proud and which will greatly assist the Masonic Charitable Foundation in their valuable and essential work for our members, their families and the wider community.
The majority of questions above have been received from brethren and lodges, if you have any questions which you would like answered and feel important and of assistance to the brethren, please forward them via your group charity steward and we will add them to this website.
What involvement does the Provincial Office and Secretariat have in the Festival?
The Provincial Office and Secretariat are not involved in the organisation or running of the Festival appeal and therefore the Provincial Secretariat should not be contacted by telephone, post or email with festival queries or for Festival information. Under no circumstances should Festival donations, cheques or donation forms be sent to the Provincial Office, they should always go direct to Freemasons Grand charity in the pre-paid envelopes. Neither does or will the Provincial Office hold any stocks of forms, booklets or gift aid envelopes.
Dear brethren and companions,
I launched our West Lancashire 2021 Festival in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation on 10 May 2017 at the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Blackpool.
The Province was the first to be invited to hold a Festival in support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation which brings together and over-arches the four main Masonic charities of the Grand Charity, Samaritan Fund, Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
The last year of our festival has been impacted by the unprecedented suspension of all Masonic activities, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, we have been unable to continue our normal giving through the ‘Gift Aid Envelope Scheme’ however, if you would like to continue your support of the 2021 Festival, the MCF have agreed to extend the direct debit scheme for a further year. In effect, the Festival will still be concluding in 2021 but any mandates taken out now and running until 2022 will be included in the final Festival total, please speak with your group charity steward for any assistance required.
I would also like to add that many groups, lodges, chapters and societies during this period will have accrued donations that they were, or are planning to give at their installations, or celebrations, such as centenaries and I am asking that they forward these to the MCF as normal and when the installation or celebration does take place simply write out the amounts donated and hand to the principal guest for him to be aware, and to read out to the brethren / companions present.
We have been pleased to receive donations from lodges, chapters and societies who have found themselves in this situation and have donated the funds early to allow them to obtain patronage of the festival at this time, also if your centenary falls outside of the festival period then this is an ideal opportunity to donate the funds and obtain patronage within the festival timeframe, this way we will keep the donations flowing to MCF as they more than ever require these funds to be able to assist our members, families, dependents and widows in need.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every Brother and Companion in West Lancashire who is supporting the Festival and for those yet to make a commitment, I would ask you to consider doing so? In the immediate future, there is likely to be a greater call on our charities than any of us have ever witnessed in our lifetime, COVID-19 presents a clear and present danger to us all but, no matter what happens, it is reassuring to know that the Masonic charities will be there for us in time of personal need.