Chapter 4

Supporting charities and communities

Our support to the charity sector focuses on charities supporting the needs of children and young people and those experiencing isolation in later life. 

In addition, we provide further support to charities and causes through strategic partnerships, funding for PhD research into childhood diseases and conditions and through a number of programmes that support Freemasons’ charitable giving at the local level.

The MCF is also one of the first contributors to international aid appeals following major natural disasters.

In 2022/23, the MCF awarded

to over


on behalf of Freemasonry.

Grant Programmes

Large Grants of between £20,000 and £60,000 over three years £2,931,645

International Disaster Relief £1,236,000

Small Grants of
up to £15,000 over three years £1,062,247

Hospice UK grants £600,000

Matched funding of grants made by Provinces of up to £10,000 £394,369

PhD Research into degenerative illnesses £250,000

Freemasons’ Community Fund £176,243

Festival Grants £114,000

Total £6,764,504

Grants awarded to charities in England and Wales* 

*Excludes Hospice UK grants, overseas disaster relief and medical research.

Working with Freemasons

As a charity funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons, their families and friends, we believe it is important to involve the membership in our decision-making when awarding grants. Following the assessment and shortlisting process, all of our large grants are referred to the local Charity Representative of the respective Province for comment before the grant is awarded.

Strengthening the charity sector

In 2022/23, we established a strategic partnership with the Cranfield Trust to support their work in strengthening and building capacity within the charity sector. 

  • 23 projects were supported through the partnership. The charities offer a wide range of services across different areas of social need and disadvantage. 
  • 63 charity leaders have been supported by 10 Peer to Peer Exchanges through online and face-to-face sessions, where charity leaders network and learn from each other. 
  • A series of 12 webinars were held with 1,562 attendees across a wide range of topics, including Effective Impact Reporting, Personal Resilience and Being Inspired as a Leader. 

Beneficiary groups supported through the Cranfield Trust partnership

The charities were supported in different ways as required by their specific needs, with the majority (65 per cent) requesting help to develop a long-term strategy. 

The feedback received from the charities highlights the difference that the MCF funding made to enhance the effectiveness of small charities and help guarantee long-term service provision for local communities.

Note: some charities reported multiple groups.

Supporting hospices

In 2022/23, we continued our long-term partnership with Hospice UK and awarded £600,000 to fund two programmes. £398,488 was awarded to fund 13 projects that will help people needing end of life care suffering from the effects of the UK cost of living crisis, including those experiencing homelessness. 

We also launched a bursary scheme to develop staff skills, capacity and resilience within the hospice sector. In its first six months the scheme had supported 72 bursaries in 51 hospices.

Our multi-year Hospice UK partnership has now provided 


and supported 77 projects across England and Wales since 2018

A further £2.4M has been awarded to help with day-to-day running costs at hospices.

Project support in 2022/23

Total £398,448

Medical research 

Medical research Freemasonry has a long history of supporting medical research to support treatments for future generations. The MCF is continuing this tradition by providing funding for PhD students who are researching childhood diseases and conditions. In 2022/23, we provided support totalling £250,000

Case Study:

Funding the ‘Wheeze Test’

The research project we are supporting through our partnership with Action Medical Research over the next three years is the development of a “wheeze test” for children to help prevent wheeze attacks. In England, it is estimated that around eight per cent of children under the age of five have preschool wheeze. Recurrent symptoms and multiple attacks in preschool wheezers account for one-third of healthcare costs for childhood asthma.

About the lead researcher

The successful PhD candidate was Dr Kushalinii Hillson, a paediatric respiratory registrar, who is undertaking a Fellowship at Imperial College London and the Royal Brompton Hospital. Over the three years of her PhD she will be researching the development of non-invasive biomarkers to direct individualised management of preschool wheeze. The MCF’s peer reviewer told us that this study will “address an enormous global health issue” and “will provide much needed clinically relevant information to improve preschool asthma management”. 

What the charities we support told us

Each year, we ask the charities we support to tell us about our application and grant-making processes. This year, 166 charities responded: 

  • 95% of grantees reported the level of information provided on our website was just right. 
  • 78% of grantees reported they found the end of year monitoring either easy or very easy to complete online. 
  • 95% of grantees told us the amount of information we ask to report to us is about right.

Independent evaluation

In 2022/23, we commissioned independent research to evaluate three years of progress reports received from charities we have supported through our small and large grant-making programmes. 

Our small and large grants provide support for disadvantaged Children and Young People and to help reduce isolation in Later Life. Large Grants are typically project based awards while Small Grants are unrestricted and can be used to cover the running costs of the charity. 

The evaluation reviewed the reports we had received from nearly 300 charities and assessed how they described their outcomes between 2019 and 2022. We compared these outcomes to our Theory of Change to understand exactly how we made a difference to other charities and the people they support. 

The evaluation identified the following conclusions:

  • 64% of charities we funded described beneficiary-specific benefits as a result of our support. These outcomes included ‘increased engagement in physical and social activities’; ‘gaining access to crucial physical, psychological and emotional support’; ‘increased knowledge about rights’; and ‘enabled access to more opportunities to advance education’. 
  • The remaining 36% of charities described organisational-specific benefits to the charity itself. These outcomes included ‘recruiting and developing qualified staff with the skills needed to deliver their services’; ‘improved service delivery’; or ‘increased efficiency within their organisation’. 
  • The three most commonly described impacts for our grants supporting Children and Young People’s charities were: 
    • ‘creating greater access to physical, psychological and emotional support’;
    • ‘having qualified and skilled staff to deliver the service’; and
    • ‘engaging beneficiaries in either physical or social activities’.

These outcomes demonstrate that our programmes are able to help charities meet their objectives in ways that are best suited to their specific needs. 

  • For our Later Life grants, the three most commonly described areas of benefit were:
  • ‘beneficiaries are more engaged in physical and social activities’; 
  • ‘being able to access qualified staff with skills needed to deliver services’; and
    • ‘beneficiaries accessing physical, psychological, and emotional support’. 

Case Study:

Helping Ukrainian families start a new life in the UK

By February 2023, over 168,700 people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine had arrived in the UK. 

The MCF’s funding enabled the British Red Cross volunteers to offer support and information to newly arrived refugee families at stations and airports to help them navigate the complex arrivals process and settle in the UK.

Thanks to our funding, the British Red Cross was also able to provide in-depth, practical support to over 2,300 Ukrainian refugees including guidance for opening a bank account and access to legal advice so they could get the correct visa. We were also delighted to fund the British Red Cross family reunification service which helped families contact or reunite with loved ones who had gone missing as they fled the conflict.

How we supported your local community

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