The Three Grand Principles of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love (friendship), Relief (charity) and Truth (integrity). Charity is therefore one of the three great pillars which support the fraternity. But how is this manifested?
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged.
Freemasons are taught to practise charity and to care, not only for one another, but also for the community as a whole both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals. Masonic charity ranges from buying a birthday gift for the widow of a deceased member to supporting disaster relief agencies in their work in times of need.
Each Lodge has a Charity Steward who encourages the members of his Lodge to give and he, in turn, is supported by the Provincial Charity Team (see link). The moneys thus raised are applied to local, Provincial or the Four Central Masonic Charities (see link).
Unlike many other organisations, Freemasons never ask the general public for money, nor do they make street collections or public appeals. The vast majority of the enormous sums raised by Freemasons each year come from their own resources; largely by regular monthly giving which the Lodge Charity Steward will be pleased to arrange.
In this Province, most of the funds raised are passed to a charitable company limited by guarantee, West Riding Masonic Charities Limited (see link). The company is responsible for the stewardship and distribution of these funds. Grants over recent years range from £100 to a Holmfirth residents’ association to purchase crockery to £30,000 to a Rastrick school to improve its hydrotherapy pool.
In addition, at each Masonic meeting there is normally an Alms collection to finance the purchase of small gifts for members or widows who are ill. Widows will generally also receive a small gift at Christmas and on their birthday.
There may also be a raffle at the dinner following or in some cases prior to the meeting for some specified beneficiary announced beforehand. Lodges also organise collections or other special fundraising activities for a Festival (see RMBI Festival link) or other authorised purpose.
If you are a local charity seeking assistance, why not have a look at the PGM’s Fund link on the West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd page. We may be able to help.