Welcome to our 2020-21 Impact Report.
This year marks the fifth anniversary since the launch of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) and this report celebrates the significant achievements that have taken place during our formative years. There is, however, no escaping the fact that our recent work has been shaped by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In many ways, the pandemic was a perfect storm: our main source of funds – donations from Freemasons – reduced significantly as lodge meetings and social events were cancelled; the demand for support from the individuals and charities rose dramatically; and our ways of working had to be adapted as our staff, suppliers and supporters moved to remote working.
Despite these challenging times, it has been remarkable to witness the resilience, ingenuity and commitment shown by everyone involved with the MCF – staff, volunteers, trustees and our support networks in the Provinces. A special mention must go to the RMBI Care Co, an integral part of the MCF, which has worked tirelessly to keep residents, staff and visitors at their care homes safe during the most difficult of circumstances.
Over the previous five years since the MCF formed, we have encouraged opportunity, promoted independence and improved wellbeing for over 32,000 people directly, as well as for many more through the work of the over 3,000 charities who successfully applied for one of our grants. In total, we have awarded support amounting to over £90 million since 2016 – around £52,000 per day!
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we are pleased to confirm that we maintained our core services and achieved most of our planned strategic objectives. We are particularly proud that the MCF was able to play an integral role in Freemasonry’s overall charitable response to COVID-19.
Working in partnership with the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) – the national membership body for Freemasonry – as well as Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges across England and Wales and overseas districts, we awarded £4.7 million in grants to support local communities through COVID-19. This included funding personal protective equipment for key workers, touchscreen tablets for care home residents and hospital patients, and provided food for some of the most vulnerable people in society. In addition, through the strategic partnerships we established with national charities, we have funded services to improve mental health, educational outcomes and to tackle loneliness in old age in the wider community.
These additional COVID-19 grants programmes are a further example of Freemasonry – through the MCF – increasingly looking beyond the membership; acting as a force for good in wider society by reaching out and supporting local and community causes. As you will see throughout this report, reaching out beyond Freemasonry is a key aim of our first and current five-year strategy and is something with which all Freemasons should take great pride. This strategy was guided by the vision of our founding Chairman and Deputy President, James Newman OBE, who retired this year; we are both grateful for his support and for his years of service to the MCF and RMBI Care Co; and we wish him every success for the future.
Building on the success of our first five years, the Board will be turning its attention to the future to ensure the MCF remains able to deliver life-enhancing support, on behalf of Freemasonry, in a manner that is efficient, effective and in alignment with the aims of our partners. In particular, we plan to continue the trend of looking out to the wider community when considering how best to expand our support and services. In our view, the collaborative approach we have taken with UGLE, Provincial Grand Lodges and our charity-sector partners during the pandemic provides a firm basis for delivering this new strategy, albeit – we hope – in more normal circumstances.
We hope you enjoy reading this
Deputy President and Chairman