Charity in the HK Masonic Context
We collect for charity in Lodge and in some cases also at the ‘Festive Board’ (usually as an expiation for obvious errors in Lodge); and we have fund-raising activities. At Installations the charity sums collected during the year are voted to various charities: the actual distribution – how much and to where – is usually proposed by the Master Elect. Donations are given both to Masonic and non-masonic charities.
Usually a donation is made to the Hong Kong & Far East Masonic Benevolence Fund Corporation (HK&FE MBFC). This is administered by the Trustees, two for each of the Lodges in the Districts and Provinces based in HK (this includes Lodges in Korea and Japan), of all three Constitutions. It has a fairly large capital from which the interest, together with our personal and Lodge donations, is used to make donations to Masons (or their widows and children) who have fallen on hard times, and to both masonic and non-masonic charitable organisations.
Two other Masonic charities to which donations are frequently made are the District Grand Master's Discretionary Fund and the HK Freemasons Annual Appeal, often referred to as the ‘Big Bang Appeal’.
The Discretionary Fund allows the District Grand Master to give donations in response to natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes (usually to be administered through the local Grand Lodge or District GL) without waiting for the next quarterly meeting of the HK&FE MBFC. The HK&FEMBFC has an Emergency Relief Sub Committee which also allows the Corporation to give donations in response to emergency requests from Masons in distress, and also to give donations in response to national disasters without waiting for the next meeting of the Corporation.
The HK Freemasons Annual Appeal is a fund to allow a large donation, usually in the region of HK$1,000,000, to be given to a Hong Kong charity. One of the intentions is that such a large donation is good publicity, whereas many donations of, say, $50,000, are very useful but do not get noticed. A new recipient is chosen each year, sequentially by the English, Irish and Scottish Constitutions.
The Hong Kong Freemasons Overseas Trust (HKFOT) is the trust through which most of the monies from the HK & FE MBFC are paid to distressed Brethren and widows in the UK. There was felt to be the distinct possibility of problems with regard to transmitting money to our overseas dependants after 1997, so a trust fund was set up in the UK with a substantial chunk of our charity funds, to carry out the benevolence for us, at arm’s length. Now it is probably not necessary, but they still do it for us. The Trustees are all ex-HK masons who have retired to the UK.
The Chater Masonic Scholarship Fund Trust (CMSFT) is a fairly large fund which pays for the education of the children of – mostly but not always – Masons who can no longer afford their education, due to some degree of insolvency, or by dying and not leaving their widows enough cash.