The Masonic Charity Committee is typically comprised of 3 Master Masons, designated by the Worshipful Master.
The 3 Master Masons may include any member of the brethren the Master deems worthy.
Most lodges do not have large sums of money in their charity fund. Charity funds are raised over the course of the year from fundraising events and donations.
Thus, in the interests of the lodge working as a beehive of industry, one of the Worshipful Master's first duties is to assure that if current charitable events will not provide enough funds to cover charitable causes which he wishes to provide money to, he will need to request additional ideas as to charitable events which will increase these funds. To get some fundraising ideas go to my Masonic Fundraiser Ideas page where you can also share your own successful fundraiser ideas, too.
Duties of the Masonic Lodge Charity Committee
Investigate all applications for charitable assistance
Take such action as the necessities require, consistent with your Lodge’s By-Laws
At the next meeting, the Charity Committee should be prepared to report upon their findings in regard to the request for such donation.
Methods of handling charity are different in every lodge across the world. Some lodges disburse charity funds from their General Fund and other lodges disburse funds from a special Charity Account fund. Specific charity circumstances alter decisions in every lodge, but do not let your charity decisions alter your lodge’s circumstances.
Note: If your lodge By-Laws do not include the stipulation that all funds dispersed by made in check-form only, it would be wise to ask your By-Laws Committee to discuss this at their next meeting toward the possibility of changing your lodge's By-Laws, accordingly.
Check your Lodge’s By-Laws to see if their is a maximum amount which the Committee may release. Here are a couple examples of By-Laws entries as to rules which have been set forth within other lodge's By-Laws.
"The Masonic Charity committee has the authority to pay out of the funds of the lodge for any worthy charitable cause of any member or his, or his family’s, an amount not to exceed $ _____________(see your Lodge’s By-Laws), in any individual case.
In all cases, where the amount requested or required for a worthy individual charitable purpose exceeds the sum of $ ___________, (see your Lodge’s By-Laws)the Masonic Charity Committee shall refer said matter to the Lodge for disposition."
This is an example sentence of "checks-only" within a lodge's By-Laws:"All funds dispersed from any lodge funds will be in the form of a written check. made directly payable to the charitable recipient."
Here are some Masonic Charity Committee rules that no matter how your By-Laws are written, offer some prudent advice.
PLACING A REQUEST FOR CHARITY:Any and all requests for charity funds should be placed before the Masonic Lodge Charity Committee so that further light may be placed upon the request before funds are disbursed. In rare cases, and rare cases, only, should a member of the brethren request charity funds and the funds be appropriated at the time of the request. If this were so, there would be no need for a Masonic Lodge Charity Committee.
WRITTEN REQUEST: At the time of the request, the requesting member should write down the name, address and phone number of the proposed recipient as well as the stated reason and amount of funds proposed.
CONTACT OF PROPOSED RECIPIENT: It is the function of the committee to contact the proposed recipient, ask about their need and circumstances, so they may report back to the brethren.
ASSESS FINDINGS: At the next meeting, the Charity Committee should be prepared to assess the brethren with their findings.
LODGE FUNDS BALANCES: Before any money is disbursed for charity in any form, the lodge’s brethren must be advised of the current balance of money in the lodge’s General Funds as well as Charity Accounts and all other holding accounts which contain balances. It is impossible for any member of the brethren to vote in good conscience about a charitable cause without knowing the exact balance of lodge funds available.
CHECKS ONLY: All charity donations must be in the form of a check made out directly to the charitable cause. In no case should cash be given to a member to give to the charitable cause, be they an individual or an organization.
Checks-Only System: After the Masonic Charity Committee completes their findings, all charity donations should be in the form of a check made out, directly, to the charitable person or cause. In no case should cash be given to a member to be given to the charitable person or cause.
The practice of using a "checks-only" system:
1. Creates a paper trail. The use of a checks-only system is a standard accounting practice to provide a set of checks and balances within any organization. Should anyone ever question the Treasurer about the disposition of a specific amount of money, he has a cancelled check as proof that his reputation and character is above reproach.
2. Gives the Masonic Charity Committee time to reflect on the request, rather than immediately and possibly rashly, having the brethren vote upon the request during the lodge meeting in which the request was brought up.
Simon-Sez: No member of any lodge should ever vote their conscience (or quickly stand up and second a motion) as to the lodge's monies without knowing what the lodge's checkbook contains.
If your books have not been annually audited by your Auditing Committee, nor your annual budget completed by your Budget Committee, and the results of each reported to the lodge, it can be highly detrimental to any lodge to vote upon any money matter.
While it is sometimes easy to quickly stand up, make a motion and another member quickly "second the motion", cooler heads should prevail.
It is much better to request of the Treasurer the amount of money in the checkbook, as well as to ask if the amount has been previously budgeted for, before voting upon a charitable donation or any other purchase the lodge may wish to make.
Each member should be provided a copy of both the Audit and the Budget for their lodge notebook so they may vote upon these matters with a clear conscience based upon knowledge of the lodge's assets.
Use the above Masonic Charity Committee information as a guide. Each Grand Lodge sets forth different variations of the above.
If in doubt as to correct committee duties, read both your current lodge By-Laws as well as your Grand Lodge By-Laws (a current copy of which should be in your lodge library), before making any changes to your lodge By-Laws.