Freemasons have collected for charity from the earliest days of the organisation.
One system used is ‘Charity Festivals’. These originated from a collection carried out after a celebratory meal in the late 1700s.
Members donating a sum of money become ‘Stewards’ for the year and can wear a medal or ‘Masonic jewel’. These were issued in large quantities with red ribbons for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, white for the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls and blue for the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys. Each year the design differed but was usually based on the coat of arms of the Appeal President for the year.
If a member served twice as a steward for different charities he was eligible for the Grand Lodge charity jewel which existed in a wide range of variations but all with the same medal depicting charity aiding the young under the gaze of the eye of the great architect.
The present charities are the ‘Grand Charity’ – yellow ribbon, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys – white/blue/white ribbon, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution – red ribbon and the New Masonic Samaritan Fund – green ribbon with a yellow centre stripe.