CIBSE Benevolent Fund: help us help those in need

The CIBSE Benevolent Fund supports CIBSE Members and their families during times of hardship and ill health. To ensure there are enough funds for the increasing number of people who need help, a new scheme is being launched. Chair of the fund Kevin Kelly explains how Members can help

Imagine losing your partner and, with them, your financial security, while you have three young children to raise. This was the situation for one person whom the CIBSE Benevolent Fund was able to help, when their partner, a CIBSE Member, died suddenly.

In another case, a member had fallen ill with a serious disease meaning they were no longer able to climb stairs. The Benevolent Fund helped cover the cost of converting a downstairs room into a toilet and shower room.

Each year, CIBSE Members and their dependents are supported through the CIBSE Benevolent Fund. As it celebrates its 90th year, the Fund is keen to ensure that it is in a position to continue supporting as many people as possible.

CIBSE is a community and, as such, we should support and be there for each other. This is at the heart of the Fund’s work

The Benevolent Fund is a registered and separate charity to CIBSE. It was set up by members to operate in parallel with CIBSE for members, former members and dependants who have fallen on hard times and have significant need.

Last year, there was a drop in income – as 28% of members donated when renewing membership, down from 37% in 2020 – against an increase in expenditure, because more people were seeking out the Fund for assistance.

Supporting the CIBSE community Kevin Kelly, chair of the Fund, said: ‘We’re really pleased to be reaching more people who are in need of help, and have increased the grants we are offering because of increasing needs around inflation and rising living costs.’

In 2022, of the fund’s £63k expenditure, £58k went directly to help members. The Fund is managed entirely by unpaid volunteers, and supported by CIBSE staff, with a minimal overhead of 8%, which is mainly attributed to auditing and administrative charges.

As well as donations from members at renewal time, the Fund receives dividends from investments, plus one-off donations from members, regions and CIBSE events. Fortunately, the Fund has been able to maintain the services it offers, but wants to increase the number of people it is able to help.

Clearly, this won’t be sustainable in the long term, so the Fund needs to increase donations and is seeking support from members to help with this. ‘CIBSE is a community and, as such, we should support and be there for each other. This is at the heart of the Fund’s work,’ says Kelly.

‘We are asking members to support the community in two ways. First, by helping us identify members, former members or their dependants who may be in need, and putting them in touch with the local branch almoner. Second, by helping us increase our income by ticking the Benevolent Fund box at renewal time, and considering becoming a Sustaining Member.’

The Fund is launching a new Sustaining Member scheme next year, and invites CIBSE Members to pay an annual donation of £50 – slightly higher than the voluntary donation included with membership renewal payments. Employers make an annual contribution of £100 to the Fund in the Sustaining Employers scheme.

Please ask your employer to consider becoming a Sustaining Member Contact or You can become a sustaining member by visiting: How you can help

Alternatively, in the same way as in previous years, you will have the option to donate £10 to the Benevolent Fund with your renewal. The Fund is asking you to tick this box to ensure it can continue to help those who are struggling.

Each CIBSE Region has one or more almoner. They act as the first point of call for any requests for support, and meet with trustees on a quarterly basis to review cases, share concerns, and decide how best to support clients. Each current and new case is discussed quarterly, and decisions are made with regard to appropriate funding.

Feedback and issues raised by clients are also prioritised. There are vacancies in some regions, so if you have some time, and like meeting people, this could be a very rewarding way to help. For a full list of almoners and how to contact them visit Almoners.

How the Fund has helped:

Moving back home
A member – who had been in the industry since the 1930s, a member of CIBSE for more than 50 years, chair of his region’s committee for four years, and actively fundraised for the Benevolent Fund – sought out the Fund’s assistance, as his health deteriorated. His wife was in a nursing home, while he was living at home with a carer, and he wanted his wife to move back home with him. The Benevolent Fund helped him achieve his wish by widening the doorways in their home, to allow wheelchair access.

New bathroom
A member contracted a serious disease, resulting in them being unable to climb the stairs in their home. The Fund helped with the cost of converting a downstairs room into a toilet and shower room, and – as they were unable to work – it supported them financially with regular grant cheques.

Illness support
The Fund was able to provide support for an individual who, because of ill health, was no longer able to work, and whose spouse was also seriously ill. The individual had significant additional expenses because of their illness, and the Fund was able to provide a quarterly grant and some one-off expenses.

Bereavement help
● A member died after a serious illness and his widow was left in financial difficulty. The Fund assisted until she no longer needed support.

● A client in Australia lost her husband, a long-standing CIBSE Member, and was left as a single parent to three school-age children. The Fund supported her with a quarterly grant.

Financial aid
A member struggled to maintain his business because of difficulty in obtaining payment for his work, and lost the family home. The Citizens Advice Bureau recommended he contact CIBSE and the Fund supported him with a standard quarterly grant.

If you would like to become an almoner in any of the regions with vacancies, contact or your local regional branch.