News and Updates from Washington Masonic Charities !

Monthly News & Updates for 
December 2015
Special Planned Giving Edition
Please enjoy the WA Masonic Charities December Newsletter - if you're a Lodge or Grand Lodge leader, we are counting on you to forward this to your Lodge email distribution lists!

In this Issue

Why do People Give?

People give for a variety of reasons, but for all the books and science that explain how to be a better fundraiser or how to run a winning fundraising event, there is a simple truth: people will give to what touches their heart.

Logic has very little to do with giving and motivation.  The fact that something may be a good investment in the future for the community, or that it is a capital project that  may create jobs is secondary to why people are making decisions to part with their hard earned money when it comes to charity. 

A recent presentation by neuroscientist, James Russell, showed that the parts of people's brains that light up under an MRI when asking questions about charitable giving had to do with visualization, emotion, and, interestingly, deep connection to people they cared about.

When making d ecisions about giving it is important to think about what yo ur values are and the kinds of things that are important to you.  Who are your role models?  What do they stand for?  When you give, does it honor them? What do you think is important and what really motivates you?  For some it might be watching a child have that "ah-ha" moment when they learn something new?  For others it might be that an older loved one is comfortable and at peace.

Beyond supporting distressed Brothers, widows and orphans, Freemasons have other values that come into play. Things like ethics, tolerance, education, family all play a part in what Masons have at the core of their Fraternal values.

So the real question isn't "why do people give."  The real question is , why do you give?

Masons have a strong history of giving.  When people join today, "giving
back" is one of the top reasons they state for wanting to become a Mason. When Masonry was an operative practice, it was a practical matter for Masons to take care of their Brothers in need, as well as widows and orphans. 

This practice continued during the transition from operative to speculative Masonry and well beyond. Today, as Free and Accepted Masons, we continue to take care of distressed Brothers, widows and orphans, and we also make an effort to support important issues in our communities.  It is estimated that Masonic giving (not counting at the Lodge Level), accounts for $1.1 million each day nationally.

Do you ever wonder how Masonic Temples and Masonic homes were funded and built?  In the end it was through a combination of dues, assessments, and - most importantly - the charity of Brethren who saw a need and envisioned a future of possibilities.  

Today, more than ever, it is important that we take stock and look toward the future.  Masonry isn't only about our heritage and our ritual. For Masonry and Masonic Charity to succeed and flourish into the future it is going to take vision and commitment on the part of every Mason to assure that the foundation is strong and that structure is well maintained and supported - including our charitable infrastructure.

What does this mean for each of us?

In part it means making sure that in addition to our dues and assessments, that as individual Freemasons we assure that our Lodges and our Jurisdiction are able to meet the charitable needs of now and the needs of the future by making annual contributions of cash, and by considering planned gifts as we write our wills and make our estate plans.

Want to Get Started with an Estate Plan, but Don't Know Where to Turn?
While it may not sound that exciting, people often discover that by creating an estate plan they can make gifts they never dreamed possible. Sometimes it is even possible to make a living estate gift, meaning that you can enjoy watching the good you are doing.

Where do you start? The best place to start is to sit down with your spouse or partner and a trusted financial advisor or estate attorney to discuss your future goals for your financial and legal health as you age.  Things to discuss include living wills in case something happens that leaves you incapacitated,  whether or not you want to leave something for your children or grandchildren, and the ways you might want to improve the community with a gift to charity after you are gone.

The key is to work with a professional who can recommend the best options that fit your circumstance - whether you want to leave $500, $50,000 or $5 million, a professional will give you the best advice and represent your interests.

To find a professional it is always helpful to ask the people you know and trust who they would recommend.  Most regions also have what are known as planned giving or estate planning councils - these councils are made up of legal, financial, accounting, and philanthropy professionals, and they will be able to provide you with information on who is reputable in the community.  Below are several regional planned giving council contacts in Washington.  In addition, there are several Masons who are working as professionals in the field who are more than willing to start a conversation with you and to help guide you.  Give us a call if you would like more information.

Estate Planning Council

Directory or Web Address
Seattle Area
South Sound Area
Spokane Area

Tri-Cities Area

Bellingham Area

Southwest WA Area

Types of Planned Gifts

Planned gifts can range anywhere from a simple bequest in a will all the way to interesting and complex gifts like charitable remainder trusts where both you and the organization can benefit.  Here are some of the types of planned gifts that people use in their estate planning. 

You may specify a specific dollar amount or property, a percentage of your estate, or the residual after other designations are fulfilled. You may also designate the funds to our general operating budget or to the endowment fund. Visit our web site for sample bequest language.
Beneficiary Designation
You can name a charity as a designated beneficiary of many different assets - your IRA; 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified retirement plan; life insurance policy; commercial annuity contract; bank account; or brokerage account.
Charitable Remainder Trust
A charitable remainder trust pays you and/or your loved one an income stream for life or a specified number of years. Upon the trust's termination, the charity receives the remaining assets held by the trust.
Charitable Lead Trust
A charitable lead trust makes payments to the charity for your lifetime or a specified number of years. At the end of the trust term, the remaining assets are either returned to you or distributed to your heirs.
Retirement Assets
This includes IRAs (regardless of the type of IRA) and most qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Request a Beneficiary Designation Form from your plan administrator and designate the charity of your choosing as a beneficiary of either a percent or a dollar amount.
Life Insurance Policies and Commercial Annuity Contracts
Simply complete and return to the insurance company a form designating that your selected charity will receive all or a portion of the death benefit associated with a life insurance policy or the remaining contract value, if any, associated with a commercial annuity.
Bank Account
You can instruct your bank to pay to your selected charity all or a portion of what remains in a checking or savings account. Your bank can provide you with the appropriate beneficiary designation form.
Investment Account
You can instruct your investment company to transfer to your selected charity some or all investments held in the account at the time of your passing. Your broker or agent can let you know the process for doing this.
Outright Gifts of Other Assets
You may contribute not only cash and securities, but also, in some cases, real estate, savings bonds and commercial annuities.  Employee stock options may or may not be transferable, depending on your company's plan. Even if they are not transferable, you can arrange
charitable gifts so that the tax payable upon exercise of the options will be substantially reduced.

Overall, there is a wide range of ways people can give.  Make sure to talk with your financial and legal advisors to learn more about which ways make sense for you.
WA Masonic Disaster Relief Fund Created

At its November meeting, the Washington Masonic Charities Board of Trustees voted to create a new fund for disaster relief within the Washington Jurisdiction.  This fund will be activated in time of a significant disaster or emergency within the Jurisdiction. Examples include events such as major fires, landslides, earthquakes, storms, tsunami or other incidents that have widespread impact.  

The WAMC Board will look at each incident or event on a case by case basis to determine whether the funds will either be distributed to a reputable relief organization with boots on the ground in the area, or whether individuals may apply directly for relief through an application process submitted directly to WA Masonic Charities.

When disaster strikes or a community is impacted and needs assistance, we'll send out a notice about how Brethren and others can give.  We hope to not have to use this fund, but with this process in place it will be very clear in the future how people can help in a time of need.

Individuals may contribute to this fund at any time by sending a check made out to WA Masonic Charities c/o Masonic Disaster Fund 4790 Bridgeport Way W, University Place, WA 98467, or by making an online contribution.

To make an online contribution to the Masonic Disaster Relief Fund, click the button below.
I had the honor of attending the World Conference of Regular Grand Lodges in San Francisco in November.  This was an opportunity to meet with and learn from the leadership of Masonic jurisdictions throughout the world.  More than one thousand people attended from 58 nations from around the world.

One of the most impressive things to see was how both Masonry and Masonic Charity are universal. Even though presentations were given in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, the themes would be recognizable to any Mason in any Lodge.  Issues of quality vs quantity, tolerance, and Masonic charity were discussed.

There were three quotes that stood out for me during the presentations.  They resonated with me because they reflect the challenges we have today.

"We frequently spend more time looking back 200 years than looking ahead 200 years."

"Leadership is change."

"Charity isn't about donations, it is about outcomes."

Charitable organizations, more than ever, have to adapt to today's realities. To be successful and have impact, they have to look well out into the future.  The WA Masonic Charities Board of Trustees has been meeting over the past few months and discussing both what kind of impact we want to have on the Fraternity and the community, as well as how we should go about achieving that impact.

We have realigned our mission statement to reflect our priority areas - youth, seniors and those in need, and Masonic heritage. 

The approach we are taking is to use the lens of Masonic Values to determine the issues that makes sense for us to address in the community.  We are identifying how WA Masonic Charities can best address these issues.  We are identifying partners to work with and are finding ways to involve the Lodges and Masons.  Lastly, we are doing this in a way that identifies measurable outcomes so that we can be clear about what impact we are having and that that impact makes a meaningful difference in peoples lives.

To date we have been highly focused on stabilizing and adapting our Masonic Outreach Service program to reflect modern and future needs of our older adults.  As part of this we are gradually expanding it to recognize and support both Veteran and active duty service members and their families in need. As we adapt, we are seeing success.

Our Library & Museum is making progress.  We are getting the books and articles collections database online, as well as exploring new ways to use our museum's Masonic objects to tell the story of Masonry and present the story in a way that is appealing and informative for both the Masonic Fraternity and the general public.  We are redeveloping a simplified way to work with Lodges that are interested and willing to host portions of our book collection and to make them available to Masons in their own communities.  

Perhaps our greatest challenge will be to redefine our youth programs to be both strategic and impactful, and to identify a path to fund success.  I have proposed a Youth Success Initiative to refocus our efforts on issues that impact children today to include education success, leadership & civility, and assistance for at-risk kids.  For example, there are more than 32,000 homeless children attending public schools in Washington State - 68% of these kids are pre-K through 5th grade.  Learning success is greatly hampered by home instability.  How might we help these kids?  As another example, there are roughly 9,000 foster kids in Washington State.  These kids graduate at a rate of only 47%, while non-foster kids have an 82% graduation rate.  Foster kids as a group are below 50% meeting standards for math, science, reading, and writing.  How might we help these kids?

A small group will be meeting to discuss and recommend strategies and next steps.  We will keep the Fraternity posted as this develops.  

The bottom line is that kids are our future, and the ideals and values of Masonry have much to offer.  My sincerest hope is that you'll join and support our efforts to assure that every young person has the opportunity to be safe, to successfully learn, and to become the best young citizen that they are able.

- Fraternally, Ken Gibson, MNPL, Executive Director
Masonic Outreach Services - Senior Assistance 
Did you know that a majority of services provided by Masonic Outreach Services are for Masons, their widows, and members of the Masonic family?  We provide supports and services for older adults to aid them in aging in place and to make the transition to skilled care with as much comfort and dignity as possible.

Many Masons have questions about Masonic Outreach Services and its work following the closure of the Masonic Retirement Center.  We have updated our website with a Frequently Asked Questions Page.  

If you don't see your question answered here, please send an email to or call (844) 288-3531 x 404 and we'll get you an answer.
Charity - Our M ost Important Virtue

If you would like to support WA Masonic Charities you may also send a check to:
Washington Masonic Charities
4970 Bridgeport Way W
University Place, WA 98467


| Washington Masonic Charities| (844) 288-3531 | |