The process would go smoothly if all situations were black and white; unfortunately, they aren’t. These leads us to the discussion in this section of how many applications for Matching Funds fall into a grey area.
Grey areas frequently arise because of the nature of an event. We will explain where they are and the judgment calls that are made in regard to their nature and explanation. The more information you can give us the better a judgement can be made.
- We do not match funds for contributions to the Chamber of Commerce as they are a commercial venture to improve the business in a town. However, the Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a drug awareness program in the schools and the Lodge wanted to contribute to that program. That would probably qualify to match because the purpose is not commerce but education.
- We do not support youth church camps or mission trips. However, if a church ran a camp for children, regardless of religious affiliation, in which no effort is made to convert them to a denomination, is part of its community outreach program, sending a child to such a camp would probably qualify.
- We do not match funds for projects which are the responsibility any branch of government. We will not help buy a fire truck for Oklahoma City, because it’s has its own budget. However, if a town of a 3,000 people need a fire truck for its volunteer fire department, the tax base isn’t there for the town to buy one, and we’d probably match funds to help.
There are many projects which we would consider matching in small towns which we wouldn’t match in larger communities such streetlights and ambulance equipment.
We select on the basis of size of community because in small communities the service simply can’t be provided unless individuals raise the funds and do it themselves. These decisions are based on need and means of the communities they are going to.
In trying to make sense of the grey areas, remember that we must ask these questions:
- Does it fit as a charitable or educational need?
- Does it have a benefit other than entertainment or celebration?
- Does it meet a safety or social need for the community?
- Is it the sort of project with which we want the Masonic fraternity associated?
It’s not that we “take off our Masonic hats” when we make these decisions. We know that a Mason is always a Mason, but sometimes we have to add other considerations to the mix, such as the requirements of the law.
Celebration vs. Service
We don’t match funds for a community celebration. We appreciate occasions to bring the lodge and community together but the use of tax-exempt charity funds through the Foundation for these events is problematic as there needs to be more value than entertainment.
What are possible exceptions to this:
YES: A community holds a festival each year which brings in exhibits of history or of Native American culture or another educational event. Participation in those events might be eligible for Matching Funds.
NO: The town is having its annual 4th of July celebration and the Lodge wanted to fund fireworks for the display. That would be a great celebration but not educational or
If you’re unsure, please call the Foundation.
A grey area can be caused by the source of funds. Any person or individual has the right to give money to a Lodge and ask for it to be used for a good purpose. It is when stipulations are attached to that money problems arise. Not all string are a problem. A donor gives money to the Lodge and asks that it be used for a scholarship. The funds could be matched and used for a scholarship with no difficulty. HOWEVER, if that same person gives the Lodge money and asks that it be matched and used as a scholarship for their niece that isn’t eligible for Matching. The grey area is in between. If he says, “Give the scholarship to someone who wants to go to OSU to study accounting,” that’s no real problem. If he says, “Give the scholarship to someone who wants to go to OSU to study accounting, who is a girl, aged 18 years,” the answer is no.
YES: A group of parents of Little League players come to the Lodge and say, “Here’s $100, go do with it what you want.”
NO: A group comes to the Lodge and says, “Here’s $100, have it matched and give us $200–you’ll get the credit and won’t have to do anything.” That’s laundering.
Matching Funds are an important role the Lodge plays in the community and we want to ensure the best possible outcome.
Call the Foundation if you have any questions or concerns about your project: (405) 348-7500