What is it and why is it important?
Charity is a big part of our ethos and Gift Aid is a method by which our donations to charity, providing they are from a U.K. taxpayer, can achieve an extra 25% added to that donation by the Government. If you collect £120 for charity using Gift Aid envelopes, £30 tax relief will be added, making the amount in the account £150. This can add up over the year. Some may not wish to use it and that’s ok, members should not be pressured.
Charity Gift Aid envelopes are available at every Middlesex Centre and from Great Queen Street. They can be supplied to members in the temple before the meeting starts and collected at the alms collection. The lodge must obviously have a Relief Chest in place. The Charity Steward must send the slips and a cheque to the Relief Chest Scheme at Great Queen Street after the meeting.
Who controls the Relief Chest?
The Charity Steward controls the Relief Chest In conjunction with the Treasurer. You have a Relief Chest account but rather than it being with a bank it is with the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Just like a bank account you can put money in and pay money out for charitable causes. There are certain occasions where money can be used for emergencies for a Lodge member. There is a statement showing a full record of donations, this can be sent yearly or quarterly to the Charity Steward for easy management. Interest at a favourable rate is also added.
How is money donated to Charity?
There is a form for donating money from the Relief Chest which just needs to be signed by two senior officers, the Charity Steward and one other, e.g. the Treasurer, Secretary or Almoner. The funds can then be transferred directly to a charity, or by cheque, should you wish to present it in person. There is a minimum amount for donation, but it is only £50, anything more than that is fine. There is no limit to the amount that can be held in a Relief Chest, but it must be used regularly, it is not to be used as a savings account. The members give to charity and it should be dispensed at the earliest possible opportunity, for the benefit of whatever charity the lodge chooses.
Opening a Relief Chest is easy
Just apply for a pack from the Masonic Charitable Foundation by following the link where further information on the scheme can also be found.
Headley O’Brien. Provincial Grand Charity Steward.