Freemasons Charity Survey Results
January 2008 saw the Board of Benevolence launch a Survey on Charity, which closed 30 April attracting 929 respondents, including 300 of our ladies (out of an approximate membership of 10,000 brethren).
Why? We were already involved in many activities, but interestingly while we had a nation-wide project in 1984 (which led to the creation of the Chair of Geriatrics) and another similar appeal in 1990 (which set up the Paediatrics Fellowship at the University of Otago) there had not been any further broad project promoted nationally since then. After 18 years was the time now ripe?
Further, we wanted to assess some of the attitudes that brethren and ladies had to the new re-branded and re-focussed Charity.
We are not driven by ‘majority rules’ but we were interested in getting feedback from our wider Masonic family.
Some of the questions were ‘Yes/No’ in which case the responses were easy to identify. Others however were inviting a response on a scale of 1 to 7. To analyse these results I adopted the following logic – those who responded with numbers ‘3, 4, or 5’ I viewed as being neutral or close to neutral. Those who chose numbers ‘1 or 2’ and those who chose number ‘6 or 7’ clearly felt more strongly about the question and the answer. I considered therefore that by analysing those responses a clearer result ought be identified.
I then divided the Survey into three sections – awareness of The Freemasons Charity; attitudes to charity; interest in any National Projects.
The Board had undertaken a major relaunch of the new brand, new imagery, new processes and procedures all rejuvenating The Freemasons Charity. Throughout the country we had been at pains to promote the new exciting brand.
Further, the Board had made its first DVD detailing the charitable activities of freemasons in New Zealand. Free copies had been distributed widely. Brethren were encouraged to view the DVDs with families and friends. New initiates are provided copies on their initiations, and encouraged to view them with pride.
While 31% of the ladies considered they were well aware of the activities of TFC 18% felt they knew little. However, 80% of the ladies had not seen the DVD!
25% of men were well aware of the ‘back to basics’ focus of the Board, but a similar number knew very little about that focus
40% of the men knew a lot about District BOs, and 43% of the men knew how to use the system to provide assistance.
29% of men thought TFC was doing a very good job assisting those in need (compared to 12% to the contrary), and 30% of men thought TFC was doing a very good job helping lodges with their projects (cf 6%).
61% of the men claimed to know a lot about the almoners duties (cf 5%).
So conclusions that can be drawn here include:-
- We can do more to lift the profile of TFC amongst our ladies, but particularly with regard to the DVD. The resources are in the lodges, but they are not being used.
- We should continue to emphasise our ‘back to basics’ theme, since there appear to be a large body of brethren sitting in or around the ‘neutral’ response range. It may be that the brethren have heard our utterances, but remain sceptical, in which case we ought demonstrate the proof of our claims by reference to the statistics.
- Our systems and structures (BO’s etc) seem to be well known and to be operating well.
- We seem to be winning the hearts and minds of our brethren where the numbers of knockers seem to be very low, but we should persist in selling our good news stories to increase the level of positive acceptances.
- The role of the almoner within a lodge is clearly seen as an important one, which we can usefully build on in coming years.
Attitudes to charity
This section was less to do with TFC and more to gauge views on ‘giving’.
66% of men thought their lodges were already doing enough in the charity area; 87% had contributed to their lodge charity in the last 12 months; and 81% had contributed to TFC in the last 12 months.
71% would be willing to give more to TFC to assist its work in aiding those of our masonic family in need, though 57% thought they contributed enough generally to TFC. Not a contradiction – a view which says “I think I am giving enough now, but would give more if the focus was on assisting our family in need.
The source of the charitable contributions was:-
45% made contributions at Installations
31% did so as part of their lodge dues
21% did so at special lodge collections
Collections at installations attract adverse comment (always Grand Lodge members and visitors doing the giving) so a move towards other methods seems warranted. What and how?
One aspect of our activities which did receive very positive feedback from both our brethren and our ladies was that of our University Scholarships programme/Paediatrics. 65% of the brethren keenly support the work (rising to 78% if the first three choices of response are included) in this area while 88% of the ladies were aware of what we did in this area, and 94% supported our actions
We are told we have an aging membership, and that the economic climate is currently ‘adverse’, leading to a sense that any nation-wide project might not be well supported by our lodges and brethren. The Survey provided an ideal opportunity to test those assumptions.
14% of men (26% women) were not persuaded a National Project was warranted – conversely 49% (20%) felt a National Project could be pursued.
|Defibrilators||61% (57% Women)
|Arthritis||30% Men (43%)
The two preferred activities are clear – defibrillators and Stroke.
The desire for a nation-wide program is strong amongst the brethren, so one outcome we should look to promote is a project along the lines of those identified in the Survey.
We should invite Sheila to undertake some exploratory work on the two proposals to determine if either is a practical opportunity, and if so what budget etc might be required in order to bring the ideas into reality.
The survey was undertaken for a number of reasons – to raise the profile of TFC; to ascertain attitudes to benevolence; to be seen by the brethren to be consultative; and then to be seen as being responsive.
Several brethren took the opportunity to enlarge on suggestions impacting on benevolence, and it was delightful to also record a number of our ladies and our widows who took the chance to express some heartfelt appreciation for the good work that has been done by the fraternity over many years.
To all those who participated in the Survey, we are indeed most grateful fort he time effort and thought that was contributed.
The level of responses was below what I had expected, but above others expectations, which presumably means it was reasonable.
Use of emails and technology meant the process of collation and analysis ran rather smoothly however we ought record the sterling efforts of Grand Lodge staff who toiled without complaint producing the final outcomes.
Board of Benevolence.