Volume LIIINovember 2006Number 4

The CHIP Program Needs Your Support

The Masonic CHIP (Child Identification) Program needs your help if it is to continue to operate in Pennsylvania. For two years, the Masonic Foundation for Children covered all the costs of the program, totaling in excess of $500,000.00. This was done to "jump-start" the program and to encourage Masons and lodges to get involved. A seemingly endless supply of mini-CD disks, brochures and packets were freely given out as needed, and a series of supply depots were established across the state to help with this distribution.

At the beginning of 2006, however, the merger of the foundations brought the knowledge that the program could not continue unless it found a way to become self-sufficient, either in the form of concentrated fund-raising or through donations coming in from the lodges and districts. We are now being asked to add many new CHIP events and to provide large quantities of supplies to various CHIP coordinators across the state, but we cannot purchase and distribute additional supplies until some income starts to flow in from the lodges and districts to help pay for them.

Before scheduling additional events, you should plan to gather some funding through the members, lodges and local businesses within your Masonic district. Every contribution sent in, either by a member, a lodge or a business, specifically marked for the CHIP Program, will be tracked and credited to the district. The goal should be to contribute $2.00 for every child you wish to process in the program within your district.

This isn't quite the same as "selling" the supplies, because we continue to support programs without any money coming in. By the end of the calendar year, however, we need to see that correlation between income and "CHIP'd" children for each district, in order to keep the program going. Certainly, you should be trying to raise funds to compensate for those events you have already conducted.

We do not want you to charge a fee for creating an identification record. We advertise it as a free program, and this must be consistent across the state and the country. You can, however, take voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses or organizations. For example, if a corporation wants you to conduct the program for their day care center and offers to pay for it, you can certainly accept their donation to send in as part of your fund-raising efforts.

Seeking local business sponsorships is an untapped resource and provides a "win-win" relationship between the lodge and local merchants. District 15 and District 30 have both successfully partnered with local banks to fund and locate a series of CHIP events in branch facilities that can provide quiet, air-conditioned, clean locations with good lighting and even some volunteers to assist with the programs. Some companies such as Wal-Mart and Target, offer matching grants or community service gifts to local organizations when a simple grant request form is filed by a charity or service group. As contributions can be given directly to the foundation, its 501(c)(3) charitable classification can be used to seek these local grants. For further information, contact Executive Director Thomas R. Labagh at the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation offices, (717) 367-1536.

The CHIP program works best as a local program, funded by the lodge, its members, and local businesses and neighbors. The lodges that have embraced this philosophy are growing stronger as their members work together to fund and support a common cause. Providing this service to the children of the local community, the lodges are being seen as active leaders who truly care about the welfare of children.

The CHIP Program can benefit your lodge, too, if you are willing to work at it!

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