Charity Number 211840
As an organisation, we have charitable status for some of our funds. Donations to these are always welcome, and can be made via the SIGBI Federation Office, or via the SIGBI Website.
The Benevolent Fund was created in 1939, as a result of Soroptimists in Exeter realising that a younger, fellow Soroptimist, recently widowed, was experiencing financial difficulties. From this was born the idea that a Relief fund for the assistance of Soroptimists who had fallen into financial difficulty, either through ill heath, misfortunate or advancing years, would benefit from financial aid. In 1942, a proposal by SI Exeter, seconded by SI Plymouth. the Benevolent Fund was formed and incorporated into the Federation Constitution. The capital fund at that time was £958 and an annual levy of one shilling was made payable by every member in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland. The Benevolent Fund has its own Constitution and is a Registered Charity (No 211840).
Today the Benevolent Fund is still funded by and available to, members from the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland, the levy per member currently is £2.00.
A beneficiary may have retired some years ago on a modest salary which has not kept pace with the cost of living. The question to ask is why should women have to reduce their standard of living just because they have retired? The reasons given in 1942 are not dissimilar today. For many, inadequate statutory pensions, (works pensions only became mandatory in all sectors relatively recently) have not kept pace with the cost of living and ill health, disability, failure of business, matrimonial difficulties and the problems accompanying old age all have a negative impact. Today’s beneficiaries tend to range in age from the mid 40s to over 90 years.
Management of the Benevolent Fund
The Trustees of the Benevolent Fund are elected by their Regions. Trustees include the Treasurer, Secretary and the Chairman, and a representative of the Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) Limited Board. The Chair will have served as a Trustee of the Fund and is elected by the Trustees. The posts of Treasurer and Secretary are advertised to the SIGBI membership, and they become Trustees on appointment.
The portfolio of investments held by the Benevolent Fund are ethically invested, with the Trustees delegating the management of the portfolio to the Investment Committee (comprising the Chairman, Treasurer, SIGBI Ltd Representative, Secretary and at least 2 other Trustees). The services of professional financial advisors are retained to ensure that the portfolio is properly managed. The Investment Committee meets twice a year to review the portfolio.
The Trustees meet annually following the SIGBI Ltd Conference, when all those who have received help during the past year are reviewed to ensure they are still getting the financial assistance they require and, if appropriate, to withdraw, or reduce funding for a beneficiary. The Department of Work and Pensions website is consulted to review the income and capital a beneficiary may receive/hold before becoming eligible for help from the Benevolent Fund.
Confidentiality is key in the work of the Benevolent Fund, as it is important that our beneficiaries can trust that their personal business is not discussed with any other member of a Club or a Region. The Trustee is the link person between a beneficiary and the Benevolent Fund, and they assist any potential applicant in completing the application form. They will meet with the beneficiary at least annually, or more often according to the support needed, to ensure that a balanced, well informed, report on a beneficiary’s needs is put to the Annual General Meeting of Trustees. The Regional Trustees do not discuss individual cases with any other member of a Club or a Region.
To receive help from the Benevolent Fund, an applicant must have been a member of a Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) Ltd Club for at least 3 consecutive years. Assistance is given in the form of grants, either as a one-off payment for a specific need, or as a regular quarterly grant to supplement the beneficiary’s income. The fund does not make loans.
Application Forms for financial assistance may be obtained from the Regional Trustee who you can find by searching for your Region in The Hub and messaging your Benevolent Fund Trustee or from the Benevolent Fund Secretary, who you can find by the Federation part of the Address Book.
All information is treated in absolute confidence. The only person with whom the applicant will discuss her circumstances is her Regional Trustee, who will help her complete the form and ensure that the reasons for the application is made clear. The form is then sent to the Secretary of the Benevolent Fund.
Donations and Legacies
The Benevolent Fund is always pleased to receive donations from Clubs and individual members. If you are interested in leaving a legacy to the Fund your Regional Trustee or the Benevolent Fund Secretary will gladly assist you. Alternatively, please complete the relevant form below and return it with your cheque to the address on the form.
I hope the above has given a little insight into the work of the Benevolent Fund. Finally, because the Benevolent Fund is a registered charity, the Benevolent Fund levy qualifies under the Gift Aid Scheme and it is hoped that all eligible Soroptimists have taken the opportunity to sign up for this. It costs the Soroptimist nothing and as such all are encouraged to do so. Every penny helps.