In response to the coronavirus pandemic we will adapt our support for families, individuals and charities.
To ensure that those most in need throughout the crisis get appropriate support in the most effective way possible.
We provided a total of £4.7M in funding specifically in response to the impact of COVID-19. £3.8M of this was additional funding in the form of 583 grants. Over £1 million was provided directly to 518 individuals. Thankfully government support such as furlough, mortgage holidays, rental protection, business rate relief and other measures provided additional help to families in need. As these initiatives come to an end our support may again be needed.
We will explore ways to extend our mental health support to children aged under the age of 17.
Our counselling service is limited to adults and we know that there are many children and young people that need our support also, however providing support to this age group in more complicated and often complex.
Working closely with our service provider, we have agreed a programme of bespoke support for children and young people, however, due to the impact of COVID-19 on recruitment we have been unable to launch the service. Our aim is to get the programme underway in 2021.
We want to train and support our staff and volunteers to use video conferencing to increase effectiveness and closer working across our activities.
COVID-19 required all members of staff and volunteers to work fully remotely. We needed to ensure we worked closely together, allowing us to continue delivering our support and services with as little disruption as possible.
As the charity moved to full remote working, we embraced video technology for collaborative working and meetings. All of our Board, Committee and Annual General Meetings were held virtually and staff reported increased working efficiency, meaning video technology is something we will continue to use.
All necessary MCF staff, Visiting Volunteers and Trustees will have undertaken appropriate DBS checks and undergone training in equality and diversity.
For a charity supporting vulnerable people we need to ensure our staff and volunteers are fully DBS compliant. As an organisation that values and promotes equality and diversity, it is fundamental that all those connected to us are fully and appropriately trained.
All relevant staff and volunteers have been vetted through the Disclosure and Barring Service. Equality and diversity has been added to the ongoing training undertaken by all staff and Trustees.
We will develop a wellbeing strategy to help staff recognise the importance of self-care and help reduce stress in the workplace.
Our staff are our most important resource and we know they work tirelessly to provide support to those in need, our donors and one another. We need to ensure they are happy and healthy in order to carry out their work.
We have a broad programme of staff wellbeing initiatives in place, including support for stress and anxiety, mental health awareness, resilience training and counselling for staff that would like it. We also have a comprehensive employee assistance programme.
We will enhance our Charity Grants programme with a new matched-funding scheme whereby we work with Provinces to co-fund local projects, helping locally-raised charitable funds go even further. We will also provide additional grant funding to Provinces that are actively fundraising for the MCF through a festival appeal.
This funding will be used to support local charities, allowing Provinces to demonstrate how some of the money raised for the MCF returns to their areas and supports local communities in need.
We awarded 285 matched-funding grants totaling £437,139 to 46 out of 48 Provinces, and 45 festival grants totaling £94,152.
We will launch a new website with improved practical guidance and support.
With increasing numbers of enquirers seeking guidance from us we want to provide relevant and up-to-date information about how to access the support we offer, as well as provide tools to support potential applicants, beneficiaries, volunteers and fundraisers.
Our new website launched in June 2020 with enhanced functionality and easier navigation for users. Since its launch, we have seen a 147 per cent increase in average monthly visits to our website. In addition, we have recently launched an eligibility tool to help people establish whether they qualify for our support.
We will acknowledge and commemorate those who have left us a legacy in their will.
We want the families and friends of those that have remembered us in their will to know how grateful we are for their support and that they are not forgotten by the MCF
Our new website includes a page dedicated to those that have been generous in leaving a legacy to our charity in their will.
We will develop new ways to donate digitally, for use in lodge meetings and community fundraising events.
As the long-term impact of COVID-19 on fundraising became clear, we needed to ensure our supporters were still able to donate to the MCF even if they could no longer meet and take part in traditional fundraising events.
Through digital donations we created new cashless ways for people to support the MCF and the causes they care about by simply scanning a QR code using a digital device or clicking a unique URL. Since its launch in August 2020, we have already received over 2,700 digital donations totaling more than £73,000.
We will update our support tools and guidance for fundraisers, and deliver a Festival Forum event for all Provinces actively fundraising for the MCF.
We must ensure our fundraisers have all the support and guidance to empower them to fundraise effectively in accordance with Institute of Fundraising best practice.
We successfully delivered our first ever virtual Festival Forum with attendance from all festival Provinces and those about to join the festival fundraising programme. We have also held seven festival drop in sessions where people could access support, whilst the Fundraising team has attended 45 festival workshops, events and seminars to support Provinces in festival.
We will roll out a free will-writing service, available to everyone regardless of their connection to Freemasonry.
We know that legacy donations are a vital element of our charitable income and that many people have not yet completed a will. We feel that we can provide a vital service to society by covering the cost of writing a will, whether or not you are a Freemason.
To make the process of making a will as easy as possible, we are collaborating with The Goodwill Partnership to offer a free home visit or over the phone will-writing service to anyone that wants to write a will. Find out more about our free will-writing service here.