Charity Grants: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Masonic Charitable Foundation?
The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) builds better lives by enabling opportunity, advancing healthcare and education and promoting independence for Freemasons, their families and the wider community.
The MCF is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country supporting Freemasons and their families as well as charities across England and Wales.
Where does the Foundation get its money from?
The MCF’s work is funded solely through the generous donations of Freemasons under the United Grand Lodge of England, their families and friends.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisation. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry. For more information, please visit the United Grand Lodge of England.
How much does the MCF donate to charities each year?
The MCF donates over £5 million each year to charities helping thousands of disadvantaged and vulnerable people to live happy, fulfilling lives and to participate actively in society.
How many enquiries does the MCF Charity Grants programme receive each year?
We receive approximately 2,500 each year and we fund around 400 charities a year.
Do you have a Theory of Change that illustrates the intended outcomes of the charities and projects you fund?
Yes – you can find our Theory of Change here.
What does the MCF fund?
Our current funding categories are:
- Creating the best start in life for disadvantaged children and young people
- Reducing isolation in later life
- Medical research into degenerative disease
- Care services in the hospice sector
The target areas are reviewed regularly to ensure grants are making the greatest possible impact.
Who can apply for a grant?
The MCF only supports charities registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. We cannot accept applications from any exempt or excepted organisations (including schools, academies and churches), Community Interest Companies (CICs), Community Interest Groups (CIGs), Social Enterprises or those operating outside England and Wales
Do you fund individuals?
The Charity Grants department does not fund individuals. Grants to individuals are made through our Masonic Support Grant Department. To be considered eligible you will require a Masonic connection. For more information on this support please click here.
Do you fund projects and charities outside the UK?
The MCF awards Disaster Relief Grants to help the victims of floods, earthquakes, famines and other natural disasters in both the UK and the rest of the world. It is not possible to apply for funding in this area – Disaster Relief Grants are given at the discretion of our Emergency Grants Panel.
Are there any geographical restrictions?
Yes – the MCF main charity grants programmes are only for charities and projects in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Can we apply if we are a new organisation?
You must be able to send us audited or independently inspected charity accounts with your application, as we cannot consider an application from your organisation until it has produced its first set of accounts. We also expect organisations to be able to demonstrate a track record of service delivery.
You are funding our organisation already; can I apply for another grant?
Organisations can only have one large or small active grant from us at a time.
We don’t have our own charity number. Can we apply using the charity number of an umbrella organisation?
Yes but only if you have written permission to do so. If you are part of a larger or a national charity, with the same charity number, and legally governed by the same board of trustees, we require your larger/national charity to provide written permission which must be sent in with the application.
Does our charity need to have its own bank account to be eligible to apply?
Yes the charity is required to have its own bank account for us to transfer the payment. We will require proof of BACS details before the payment will be authorised.
We want to make an application but we do not have independently examined or audited accounts – can we apply?
Unfortunately we cannot accept any application without a full set of independently examined or audited accounts.
My application was turned down. How soon can I apply again?
If your small grant application was declined, you may make another application after one year from the date of the rejection.
If your first stage large grant form was declined, you may apply again in the next round. However if you are declined during the second stage of the large grant application process then you will be required to wait one year from the date of the rejection.
We have already received a grant from the MCF in the past. When can we reapply?
You can apply for further funding if two years has elapsed from the end of your previous grant.
We have been declined for a grant in the past. When can we reapply?
If you have been declined for a first stage Large Grant you may apply again in the next grants round.
If you have been declined for a second stage Large Grant or a Small Grant you can reapply twelve months from the date of declination.
We are a Hospice, can we apply to the Large or Small Grant programmes, as well as the Hospice Grant programme?
Hospices can apply for an MCF Hospice Grant and for a Hospice UK Partnership Grant. As the MCF has a dedicated budget for Hospice care, this unfortunately prevents you from applying for a Large or Small grant.
We have been in operation for several years but have recently merged with another charity and therefore have a new charity number. Can we still apply for funding?
You must have one year’s published accounts in the name of your charity with the same charity number; these must match the ones submitted to the Charity Commission.
Our charity received an MCF Community Award in 2017. When can I reapply?
If your charity has received an MCF Community Award grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation's Tercentenary Fund, you will next be eligible to apply for a grant in August 2020.
How much can I apply for?
For the small grant programme, grants can be up to £15,000 over 3 years. A maximum of £5,000 can be requested per year. Please note that as a general rule, we would not tend to fund more than 15% of an organisation’s average income over the last two years.
For the large grant programme, grants are available for over £10,000. However the average grants generally range from £20,000 - £60,000 in total. We encourage organisations to apply for the amount and length of funding they require, and that is appropriate and proportionate to their financial position. Occasionally we may offer a grant for less than the requested amount but we will only do this in consultation with the grantee during the application process.
What length of funding do you offer?
For the small and large grant programmes, grants are available one year up to three years.
What costs can be included in a large grant? Do you allow overhead costs to be included?
Yes. A full breakdown of the project costs must be entered into the appropriate section of the form.
Do you fund new/pilot projects?
We do fund new/pilot projects. It is important that you can demonstrate the need and demand for the service and that your organisation has the capacity to deliver the project. You will also need to demonstrate that your project is unique in your area or that you offer something different to other similar organisations.
Do you fund salaries?
Yes we do. If applying for a large grant, the role must be integral to the project.
For the large grant first stage application, I have two projects for consideration and can’t decide which to put forward for funding. What should I do?
We would always suggest choosing the project which is most needed by your organisation at the time and which you feel fits closest to our themes.
Can I attach more information to my application?
Yes. We would welcome an impact report, pilot evaluation or anything else you feel would be relevant to your application.
If I include a prepared project proposal, do I still have to complete the form in full?
Yes. The entire form must be completed in full. If it is not, we will not consider the application further.
If I send in a full set of accounts, do I still have to complete the finance section of the form?
Yes. The entire form must be completed in full. If it is not, we will not consider the application further.
I don’t know how to fill in the finance section of the form. What should I do?
Please click here for further information about how to complete this section.
In addition, your finance worker, accountant/auditor, council for voluntary service or other support agency should be able to assist you as we use this information to help us assess the financial strength of your organisation.
If you have a question about the wording of a question then you would be welcome to call us for clarification.
What are unrestricted reserves?
Unrestricted reserves are funds freely available to spend on any of the charity's purposes.
Can I post or email my application, or should I submit it online?
All forms are online only. We cannot accept postal or emailed applications. There will be a ‘Submit’ button for you to click once the application has been completed.
How will I know if you have received it?
You should receive a copy of your application immediately as receipt. A personal acknowledgement will then be received by email once the application has been initially reviewed. You may need to check your spam filter to find the emails. If you haven’t heard from us within seven working days of submitting your application please call to check whether we received it.
If changes occur to our organisation after we have applied, do we need to inform the MCF?
Yes. Please make sure that you keep us updated of any important changes that may affect the outcome of your application. This is especially important if your contact details change, or if the person who submitted the application leaves your organisation.
Do applications require the support or a reference from a Freemason?
As this is a non-Masonic scheme the charity does not require a connection to a Freemason.
If you are a Freemason who is interested in referring a charity for a grant, please do not hesitate to share our website with the organisation or give them our contact details so we can advise them on how to apply.
My application fits both the Early Years and Later Life areas. Which one should I apply for?
If your application will support both disadvantaged children and young people and isolated older people, it is eligible through both of our programmes. You will be able to indicate that the charity will support both groups in your application form, so please select either one to begin the application process.
How are successful grantees selected?
Charities go through a rigorous assessment process before being selected for support. We measure applicants on several criteria: the need being tackled, whether the activities effectively tackle this need, the financial history, checking the capacity and sustainability of the organisation and its project, evaluating reach and potential impact, how results are monitored, etc.
Once the applications of the highest quality and those that are the closest fit to our scheme have been identified, the applications are then presented to the Charity Grants Committee, which is comprised of experienced charity sector individuals, for a final decision. The Committee meets 3-4 times a year.
Does the MCF Charity Grants Large and Small grants programmes prefer projects that work with a large number of people?
Not necessarily. When considering the impact of the project we take into account both the numbers of people that are reached and the importance of the project’s intervention to those involved.
Will you come and visit us during the assessment process?
During the assessment stage, you may receive a visit from a member of staff or one of the members of the Charity Grants Committee. The visit will be pre-arranged and may include a discussion of your application, your budget, your organisation’s accounts, fundraising strategy, and the governance and management of your organisation. We will expect to meet with staff and a Trustee, and beneficiaries if appropriate.
How long will I have to wait for a decision?
For a large grant first stage application form you will have a decision within 4 weeks.
For the small and large second stage grant application, it can take up to 6 months for a decision if you apply as soon as the round opens. However you will be updated during the process.
If we are successful, what will be expected of us?
Firstly we will ask you to sign an agreement form detailing what both organisations have agreed to do and send in proof of your bank account details in order for us to authorise the payment. Once this has happened and the grant has been finalised, we will arrange for you to meet with local Freemasons for a presentation and to secure any publicity opportunities.
During the grant, the organisation will be required to complete yearly monitoring reports to show what impact the grant is achieving. In addition, a member of staff, member of the Charity Grants Committee or volunteer representative may conduct a monitoring visit.
On occasion, we may also ask your organisation if they could speak at one of our events to raise awareness of the topic and the work we are doing together.
Do you provide feedback on unsuccessful applications?
Due to the high number of applications we receive, we do not usually provide tailored feedback in the rejection letter. The main reason for not funding projects is that we receive many more applications than we can support, which unfortunately causes us to turn down many of the charities that apply to us.
However, if you wish to receive further feedback on your application, please email the Charity Grants Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feedback will be provided in a single written response and may take up to 4 weeks. Due to limited resources we cannot enter into continued dialogue about applications, or discuss them further on the phone.
My query is not answered here, where can I get further help and advice?
We are always happy to help with any questions you may have. Please contact us by email at email@example.com or call 020 3146 3337 to talk on the phone. Our office hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am-4pm on Friday.
Further eligibility guidelines and an eligibility quiz are available on the application pages for each of our grant programmes