Each Province is asked once in every 11 years to collect funds for the Masonic Charitable foundation. The Festival System in English Freemasonry has been developed to rotate specific fund raising evenly around the Provinces. There are 44 Provinces in the system. Formally each Province supported all of the previous four Masonic charities. A Festival Appeal is designed to last for 5 years or so, and we have the advantage of knowing in advance when our Festival will end and which charity we will be supporting, which enables us to plan in advance. It is then up to the PGM to decide when we start and that has been decided as 2016, giving us a 5 year festival.
United Grand Lodge of England had four separately designated charities. They were The Grand Charity, The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, The Masonic Samaritan Fund, and the one which you will become very familiar with is The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys or the RMTGB, but from April 1st 2016 these were consolidated into one charity the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The charity derives no income from outside funding such as the National Lottery. The majority of money spent comes from Masonic donations especially the Festival system.
The last Festival held in this Province finished in 2010 and the efforts made by all our Masonic brethren back then produced a fantastic sum of £3 million pounds for the RMBI. Many of the masons in our lodges will remember previous Charity Festivals held in this Province. The money raised during a Festival Appeal makes a significant contribution to the income of the designated Charity. Without the income from Festivals, the work of the Charities would be seriously compromised.
We have the privilege of being the last Province to raise funds in the name of the RMTGB.
Our Lodges’ charitable actions will need to be directed towards the Festival to ensure a successful outcome. Brethren I’m not asking you to stop your other charitable work which, as masons, we do so well in supporting, but I’m asking you to focus your main efforts in supporting the charity which supports us so well.
Around 150 Durham Brethren and dependents have received a total of £2.1M in support over the past five years. These figures show how important it is for us, as Masons, to continue to contribute to these charities in order that they, in turn can support Durham as they do.
It has been said many times, Brethren, that we are a NETT receiver of funds; we get more from the charities than we give them.
Why are Festivals Required?
On average just over 67% of the four Charities’ income is derived from Festival Appeals. The Charities are often faced with the misconception that additional donations are not needed due to the income they receive from their endowments; however this is not the case.
In 2013, the Charities spent over £29m supporting beneficiaries, whilst income from investments amounted to only £3m. This clearly demonstrates how much the Charities rely on successful Festival Appeals to continue their life-changing work.