The Fund came into existence in 1868 on the suggestion of the Reverend Canon George Raymond Portal, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. His views on charity were far more radical and progressive than the general thinking of the time. He felt that for charity to be effective it had to be disbursed swiftly and without the bureaucratic formalities of other Masonic charities. To him it was wrong for there to be any delay in providing assistance to those in need and his own Latin tag “Bis dat qui cito dat” – he gives twice who gives promptly – became, and still is, the principal guideline of the Mark Benevolent Fund (MBF).
The Fund has disbursed many millions to individual petitioners and an even greater sum in grants to charities within the wider community. A major grant of £3.4 million went to St John Ambulance to fund a combination of 53 state of the art ambulances, treatment centres and support vehicles to be stationed throughout England, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. A brand new disabled friendly river cruiser costing £158,970 went to the Kingfisher Medway Trust in Kent. Ruby’s Fund in Cheshire was to benefit from £48,488 to set up an inspired mobile sensory room and Age UK in Manchester was awarded £32,739 for a specially adapted minibus to assist the elderly suffering with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other disabilities. These projects can only be funded with your help and dedication to the fund.
When it comes to individual Petitioners things are handled slightly differently. When a Lodge Almoner is made aware of a Brother or his family in distress, he should immediately arrange a visit by himself or a visiting Brother to assess the circumstances and then complete a grant application form with as much information as possible. This is then passed to the M.B.F. via the Provincial Almoner. The case is then reviewed, any further information deemed necessary asked for and then submitted to the next MBF Petitions Committee.
It is important for Lodge Almoners to be aware of Brethren not dining at the Festive Board, missing meetings or failing to pay annual fees. This may be a sign of distress and it is their role to try and assist if at all possible.
How the Fund receives its income
Every year a different Province hosts the MBF Festival. A Province will organise its own fund raising towards a target that it sets and concludes with a Festival Banquet when the final results are announced.
When the proceeds of each Festival are sent to the Mark Benevolent Fund the individual donations are set out in a list and those sums are credited towards honorifics in the fund as below. Qualifications cannot be achieved or acknowledged until your funds have been transferred to the Mark Benevolent Fund.
Individual and Lodge Donations:
It is very easy for a Brother either on his own behalf or for his lady to make a donation direct to the Fund at Mark Masons’ Hall when his own Province is not in a Festival or wishes to support the current or a future Festival. Any sum above a minimum of £10 will be credited as requested and will be aggregated towards a fund qualification. The appropriate jewel or collarette will be issued when a qualification is achieved.
The Qualifications are as follows:
|£25 per subscribing member
|£50 per subscribing member
|£50 per subscribing member
|£100 per subscribing member
|Grand Patron Gold
|Grand Patron Diamond
*Lodge Donations: A Lodge reaches Patron status by paying £50 per subscribing member. For a Lodge to achieve Grand Patron status a further £1000 additional one-off donation will be required. To achieve the Grand Patron Gold a further £2500 one-off donation is required. To achieve the Grand Patron Diamond a further £5000 is required to be donated to the Fund.
**Province/District Donations: Every Lodge within a Province/District must have achieved the required Patronage award for the Province/District to qualify.
Lodges and Provinces wishing to achieve their qualifications should refer to the Constitutions and Regulations of the Order for full details or call 020 7747 1171.
Total National Grants in recent years are:
2021: £1,993,328 – £29,600 Clowns in the Sky; £1,258,000 Hospices
2022: £100,000 Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge
Local Grants Made by Mark Benevolent Fund:
2016: £18,000 to Northumberland Blood Bikes
2017: £13,400 to Blood EVS
2018: £7,625 Children’s Heart Unit Foundation
2019: £98,198 Talbot House
2020: £23,541 Northumberland Blood Bikes and £14,240 Meals on Wheels
2021: £45,000 Royal National Lifeboat Institution – Northumberland Lifeboat Stations: Berwick £10,000; Seahouses £10,000; Amble £11,000. Craster £5,000 Newbiggin-by-the-Sea £4,000; Blyth £5,000
2021: Hospices in Northumberland (in Memory of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh) £29,000: St.Oswald’s £11,000; Marie Curie £9,000; North Northumberland £5,000; Tynedale £3,000; Haltwhistle £1,000
2022: Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade £55,751 to purchase a 2nd Vehicle
2023: Newcastle Wheelchair Rugby – North East Barbarians £35,798 for purchase of eight wheelchairs and maintenance.