We aim to provide an efficient and effective grants service at all times. However, we understand that sometimes our beneficiaries and other parties may wish to raise issues about our service provision. We want to resolve matters quickly and to the satisfaction of the complainant. We welcome your complaints and comments, because your views about the MCF are essential in helping us to continuously review and improve our grant making services.

Should you have any questions not answered within this policy guidance document, please contact the Masonic Support Department:

Thomas Hulme, Grants Policy & Research Officer

Email: thulme@mcf.org.uk

Phone: 020 3146 3310

Please also note that complaints regarding services outside of those delivered by our grant- making department are not covered or considered under this policy. For such complaints, again please contact Thomas Hulme for further guidance.

Appeals and complaints policy

We are committed to ensuring that everyone who receives a grant (including any support services offered through our grants department) receives professional, courteous and timely support at all times. This includes those that apply to us for the first time, or those that return for support having been previously considered for support in the past, whether successful or unsuccessful. All assessments of eligibility, masonic, financial or other, should be made irrespective of the outcome of any previous assessment and be assessed against current eligibility criteria.

Under this policy, we commit to deal with a complaint or appeal as quickly as possible. We will ensure that our process for reviewing and responding is fair, courteous and helpful. We will also treat all complaints and appeals seriously, confidentially and in line with our equal opportunities policy. We will ensure that all complainants are kept informed and we will also keep written records of all complaints and appeals.

We recognise any expression of dissatisfaction as a potential complaint. If you are dissatisfied with the conduct of MCF employees, the grant support service you have received, or outcome of your application, please formally tell us. We will then follow our complaints processes outlined within the relevant sections of this guidance.

All complaints and appeals without exception will be kept fully confidential and will only involve those MCF staff members affected or relevant to any review process. All complaints and appeals will be treated with equal respect and we expect that MCF staff involved in any complaint or appeal procedures will be provided the same courtesy.

What is and is not considered a complaint

MCF defines a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction about the standard of grant support service provided by MCF to a group and or individual. Most (but not all) complaints will generally fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Complaints about the grant service(s) or support that MCF provide or do not provide
  • Complaints about the way MCF have provided grant support service(s)
  • Complaints about staff interaction, attitude(s) or competency
  • Complaints about MCF grant support policies affecting Masonic or other individual stakeholders
  • Complaints that procedure has not been followed in MCF’s application assessment and outcome dissemination process
  • Complaints that MCF have failed to give you timely access to information or have given you incorrect advice or information that has adversely affected your application submission
  • You feel that discrimination or unequal treatment has taken place
  • You feel that the needs of the Masonic community have not been met or considered
  • You believe an act of fraud has taken place by an individual in regards to an MCF application

The distinction between a formal complaint and informal feedback/complaints is considered in light of the medium by which they are provided. We do not consider enquiries about support service(s) or initial requests for support, or information about MCF’s grant policy position(s) as a complaint. We also do not consider social media commentary/feedback or open forum commentary as a complaint under this formal policy. Our general position is not to engage in discussion on an open forum under the Data Protection Act and due to internal staff confidentiality and privacy restrictions. However, social media and open forum feedback and complaints may be captured, and relevant parties invited to submit a formal direct complaint for review.

What is and is not considered an appeal

The MCF defines an appeal as an expression of concern and or belief that an application submitted to MCF has not been assessed correctly according to our eligibility criteria. Most (but not all) appeals will generally fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • An appeal that MCF’s decision on your application is not justified or evidenced
  • An appeal that key information within the your application has been misinterpreted
  • An appeal about the process that MCF has or has not followed to assess your application
  • An appeal that the Freemason connection has been incorrectly interpreted

The circumstances when an application appeal can be made

In all instances the successful applicant will have been written to with the outcome of their application, providing details of the amount of grant awarded, how the grant will be paid to them and how frequently it will be paid, and what will occur when the grant term is approaching completion that will enable them to reapply for ongoing support.

In all instances the unsuccessful applicant will have been written to with the outcome of their application, providing details of why they have been unsuccessful, specifically what elements of the MCF eligibility criteria their application failed on.

For those that believe that their application has been incorrectly assessed against our eligibility criteria as explained in their grant outcome letter, or feel that a reduced award has been unfairly awarded, a formal appeal against the outcome of the application can be submitted.

You will need to demonstrate that one or more of the following has occurred:

  • We have interpreted a significant part of your application incorrectly
  • We did not consider a relevant part of the application fully
  • You believe that the decision taken is unjustified, for example any shortcomings we mention
  • The Freemason connection has been incorrectly interpreted

Please note that there is a deadline of 20 working days from the date you have been formally informed of the application outcome, in which to make an appeal.

How the appeal and/or complaint  will be reviewed and monitored

 If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the service received, or outcome of your application, you should initially speak with the member of staff concerned. We hope that most complaints or informal appeals enquiries can be settled quickly via any relevantly linked staff member.

Complaints will be reviewed by the Grants Manager in liaison with any affected staff members.

Appeals will be initially reviewed by a Grants Team Leader in liaison with the initial assessor, with any review and decision signed off by the Grants Manager.

Public Whistleblowing Process and Procedure – Fraud and Misrepresentation Concerns

Sometimes members of the public or members of a Freemason lodge may have concerns about an individual that has received support from MCF. This may be in relation to potential fraudulent activity, misrepresentation or misuse of grant funds.

You can submit a complaint or whistleblowing enquiry if you reasonable believe that:

  • An individual has misrepresented their household and/or family circumstance in an attempt to receive, or successfully have received, charitable support
  • An individual that is currently in receipt of support or applying for support is currently engaged in potentially fraudulent activity(s)
  • An individual that is currently in receipt of support has breached their grant agreement and not disclosed information that will have a material impact on the support we offer
  • A Freemason linked to the award of financial support is believed to have been expelled from the craft

Please note that all complaints or whistleblowing in regards to potential breaches of grant agreements or eligibility criteria will be dealt with under the protection of anonymity of those submitting concerns.

All whistleblowing concerns will be investigated to the best of our ability given any information provided. However, for MCF to be able to investigate any whistleblowing concern we will require evidence to support your claims.

Should you have any concerns falling under the above criteria (or similar) please address them to:

Gill Bennett, Grants Manager

Email: gbennett@mcf.org.uk

Writing: Masonic Charitable Foundation, 60 Great Queen Street, London. WC2B 5AZ

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