Harrow Charity Forum –
On Wednesday 13th February 2019, the Harrow Charity Forum hosted its second workshop under the banner “12 Months To 2020”.
It was well supported, with 22 in attendance.
The evening kicked off with an introduction from Provincial Grand Charity Steward John Briggs who highlighted the fact that the RMTGB belongs to Masons and more importantly our families, and currently over 80 Middlesex members and their families are recipients of help from the Festival.
Festival Committee Report –
First was Deputy Chairman Omaid Hiwaizi, who shared the latest progress and guidance from the Festival Committee:
• The Festival total stands at £3.5M (next milestone is £3.75M).
• A focus is to help Lodges and Chapters that have not yet achieved Steward over the line.
• There are a significant number of unpaid Direct Debits from Members, which are being followed up.
The removal of these has resulted in some Lodges going back in their total to the point where they are now below the honorific level that they have already been awarded.
• There are 141 Members who have contributed less than £400 but more than £200.
They should be approached with a view to persuading them to get over the £400 honorific line – particularly as some are just a few pounds sort.
• 34 Lodges and 2 Chapters that they have regular payments going into Relief Chests.
This needs to be looked into by Relief Chest representatives as the Member might not be getting the recognition they expect.
The Festival Committee are not able to be told which Relief Chests these are.
• Many Relief Chests hold large amounts.
This is money that should be in the hands of a charity rather than in the hands of a bank – what better than the Festival ?
Omaid went on to highlight that 1,988 members have achieved a personal honorific, equating to around 43% of the membership (in 2009 this was 2,305, 30% of the membership) and shared a breakdown of Lodge and Chapter Honorifics, showing great progress.
He ended by pointing out that 34 Lodges had not yet achieved an Honorific (representing 18% of Lodges, in 2009 it was 16.3%) and 36 Chapters similarly had not yet qualified (representing 46.2% of Chapters, in 2009 it was 43.8%).
Fund Raising Ideas –
This set the scene for Alfie Buckland to give a number of examples of activities Lodges and Chapters have been undertaking to raise funds, many of which were fun group activities also having the benefit of bringing the members, their friends and family together.
Mick Childs and Sam Brown then added to the conversation with a number of points of clarification and advice on technicalities that have come up in their conversations with Lodge and Chapter Charity Stewards.
John Briggs and Paul Sully (Royal Arch Provincial Grand Charity Steward) then took to the floor, emphasized the need to make the most of the final 12 months and the particular objectives for Lodges and Chapters.
Workshop Feedback –
Then ensued a lively workshop, with those present breaking into three groups to discuss and highlight ideas and issues, which would help Lodges and Chapters.
In reporting back, the groups raised a number of questions, which were answered by John Briggs as below:
• Can a lodge use a voucher that they received for reaching an honorific level, by paying it back to The 2020 Festival, and would this then go on the Lodge’s total ?
o No, while Middlesex are in Festival, we would like no charity to go without, charities supported by Lodges and Chapters should receive the funds, rather than it being paid back into the Festival.
• How much of the money raised goes to the Royal Masonic School for Girls ? How is the money is being used ?
o The daughters of Masons make up less than 4% of the students at The Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth.
It’s proven to be more efficient for children in need be sent to local schools near their home rather than send them to Rickmansworth, and the RMTGB cover costs.
• What is the procedure of transferring money from a lodge relief chest to the 2020 Festival account ?
o Information is on this is sent out annually to Charity Stewards.
To achieve this, the transfer has to first be discussed in a Committee meeting of the Lodge or Chapter, then Proposed, Seconded and Passed in Open Lodge/Chapter (no Notice of Motion is required).
The Blue/green Form is then completed in the name of the Charity, and is returned to the Relief Chest for the cheque to be issued.
The Lodge/Chapter may request to give the donation in person, which the RMTGB will allow.
• Is a 5-year festival too long to keep Members interested ?
o This length of time gives people plenty of time to spread out contributions, especially if the Brother is involved in Festivals in other Provinces.
• Why have only about half of the Members have signed up so far?
o Currently 43% of members have achieved a personal Honorific.
Others will have contributed amounts but not yet qualified.
The level of uptake is a function of the personal situation of the members, and so not everyone will be able to contribute to the same level.
In many Lodges and Chapters, 60-70% of the Members regularly attend which means that there are some non-active or Country Members.
An active Charity Steward contacting these Members could in fact be a good way of bringing them closer to the Lodge, or Chapter.
• What is the process for failed/stopped Direct Debits ?
o Once a Direct Debit has stopped, the Relief Chest send out a letter to the individal, asking them what the issue is and prompting them to restart.
It will also be followed up by the Provincial Charity Steward when notification is received.
• Why is there more than one Province in festival at the same time ?
o This is a decision of Grand Lodge.
There are a lot of request and requirements and sometimes they can clash.
• Can money in a Relief Chest be used for a Brother in distress who may need assistance ?
o The Relief Chest will support a Member of a Lodge if it is for a charity purpose – for example to help in an emergency.
Gestures like flowers should be funded by the Lodge Benevolent account.
For more details of The 2020 Festival see: – www.the2020festival.co.uk/
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