Freemasons Foundation Victoria Limited is the successor of the Freemasons Victoria Board of Benevolence and the Freemasons Public Charitable Foundation.
The Board of Benevolence was established in 1889 at the time of the formation of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria, with the first Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Sir William Clarke, Baronet, making a personal donation of 500 pounds, a significant sum at that time. At the subsequent Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge, the general membership raised an additional 126 Pounds and 7 shillings. These sums formed the original corpus of the Benevolent Fund.
The Freemasons of Victoria, through their payment of Grand Lodge capitation fees, subscribed 5 shillings (50 cents) annually, from that time up to 1970, when it was resolved to discontinue the contribution, following the sale of Freemasons headquarters in Collins Street which was owned by the Board of Benevolence, that sale contributing millions of dollars to the Fund.
Through prudent investment of the capital by the Grand Lodge finance committee the capital grew to what it is today, some $34 million. Capital preservation was assured as disbursements could only be made from the Fund’s income.
The purpose of the Fund was to provide welfare support to brethren and their families experiencing financial distress and in subsequent years, the early 1900’s, the establishment of a broad scholarship program and general community charitable grants.
In 1989 during the Centenary of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria, The Freemasons Public Charitable Foundation was formed. By June 1991, donations and bequests had lifted the capital to $227,000. Some years later a gift of $3 million, bequeathed from the estate of Most Worshipful Brother Reg Gregory, Past Grand Master 1978-80 ensured an increase to community grants was possible. The Foundation was registered as a public charitable trust as a tax deductible charity and similarly to the Board of Benevolence, by prudent investment of capital and gifts made to it, the corpus grew to in excess of $9 million. Donations by the Foundation, by law, could only be made to tax deductible gift recipients.
The Foundation acted totally independently from Freemasons Victoria.
In 2007 the Board of General Purposes of Freemasons Victoria engaged Marion Webster, an expert in philanthropic structure, to recommend how Victorian Freemasonry could better achieve outcomes of its philanthropic purposes.
In October 2012,then Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Robert Jones (2012-13) commissioned the then Grand Treasurer, Very Worshipful Brother Roy Alderton to not only investigate, but to put into action
the recommendations of the Webster Report.
An enormous amount of time was expended in investigation and consultation by
the Grand Treasurer, often with much adverse commentary, with the ATO and ACNC and other interested parties, which culminated in approval by the general membership of Freemasons Victoria at the September 2014 Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, to the proposal to merge the Board of Benevolence with the Freemasons Public Charitable Foundation, the trustees and directors of that body having previously agreed to do so, and to establish the Freemasons Foundation Victoria Limited with a combined capital of some $44 million and with the same aims and purposes of the two former entities.
The 5 trustees/members of Freemasons Foundation Victoria Limited are all high ranking Victorian Freemasons including the Grand Master. Eleven directors, including two ladies, manage the affairs of the Foundation, which acts independently of Freemasons Victoria. It is a registered public charitable entity recognised by both the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission.
The first meeting of the directors was held in December 2014.