Open Door Benevolent Fund

Open Door is IGEM's benevolent fund, and is dedicated to help those in the gas industry when they or their family need it most.

Open Door Logo with Strapline (Primary).png

Open Door is the Incorporated Benevolent Fund of the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers and is the gas industry’s leading welfare charity and exists to provide support and financial assistance to needy and distressed members of the Institution and their immediate families.  

It was created in May of 1877, although records indicate that donations and bequests were being collected before this time. While the fund's structure and rules have changed over time, the original aim of "affording assistance to necessitous members and their families" still holds good today. 

Since the process started, many members of IGEM, IGE, and predecessor forms of the Institution have benefited from the fund as they have fallen on difficult times.  

The Benevolent Fund was incorporated in 1962 and since then the charity has provided assistance to members of the Institution and their linear dependants. Its objective is to provide help to members and their families in need, as well as providing one-off grants, loans and regular financial support. 

Individual cases cannot be identified as strict confidentiality rules apply, but the problems where grants have been made cover financial difficulties, illness, assistance with the costs of treating ill health, and helping with property repairs. 

Who can apply?

The fund is available to current members, their spouses, sons, daughters and grandchildren. It can also help mothers and fathers but does not include siblings or extended family such as aunts, uncles and cousins. 

The fund’s Trustees are keen to help any deserving cases who meet the eligibility criteria but can only consider applications from members, or former members, or their lineal dependants, of IGEM, or its predecessors.

There is a requirement that the Trustees are given access to information about an applicant’s private financial circumstances in order to make sure that a grant is awarded in a way which will serve the applicant best. This is, of course, done in the strictest privacy.

How the funds have helped?

Awards in recent years have been made to enable a member who had retired due to ill health after relatively short service and whose wife was ill to have his property repaired.  In another case, a medically recommended special Hydrotilt chair was purchased for a former member who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A third case involved payment towards a treatment not available on the NHS to a sufferer of Multiple Sclerosis. In another case, the fund provided one member with temporary residential care following a hospital stay while awaiting appropriate alternative housing.

How to access?

If you know someone who may need assistance from time to time, encourage them to approach the Institution. Membership of the fund is open to all grades of membership and no contribution or donation is required. However, members, and any others wishing to do so, can make voluntary donations or bequests.

Eligibility for assistance

Assistance from the Benevolent Fund may be provided to:

a. Members, or former members, of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers or its predecessors, or

b. Parent, Spouse or lineal descendent of a living or deceased member or former member of the Institution;

The circumstances upon which the application is based must not precede or have been reasonably foreseen before the commencement of the associated period of membership of the Institution.  For the purposes of this document the relevant period of membership should not be less than three years and excludes any period registered at a student grade with the Institution.

In cases where the Institution is unable to verify membership from its central records or from those of the District Sections and Gas Associations, it may be necessary for the applicant to provide documentary evidence in order to proceed with the application. 

In addition to the above eligibility criteria, assistance will not be granted where:

  1. The award or part thereof, constitutes a payment which should come from statutory sources.  That is, all assistance must be provided in a way that benefits the recipient in addition to, not as a replacement for, any state benefits.  
  2. The award of funds would be used to provide goods or services which are already paid for through tested benefits.

Application for assistance

It is recognised that applications for assistance from the Benevolent Fund may take many forms and may arrive at the Secretariat by varied routes.  Initial contact is frequently a general enquiry or plea for help, rather than a specific request.

Support type

a.    One off

An award must be for the procurement of specific goods or services.  Where procurement is not undertaken directly by the Institution, for example where the award contributes towards a larger expenditure by the applicant, receipts must be provided to demonstrate that any award has been used appropriately and for the purpose intended. 

The assessment of any request will be subject to a financial means test.  Any award should be made in advance of expenditure by the applicant and will be the lower of three suitable quotations.  In exceptional circumstances a fast-track award may be made where expenditure is necessary within the normal timescales of the award process (see later).  

b.    Ongoing support

Any application for ongoing support will be subject to financial means testing.  In addition, it may be necessary to include medical reports within the assessment process.  Awards for ongoing support will be limited to a maximum three year commitment.  Further awards may be made but these will be subject to re-application and separate assessment, with supporting information as required.  When an award for ongoing support is made, an amount equal to the total sum will be held separately as committed funds and released as required.  This will ensure that the fund will not over-commit and will provide reassurance to the applicant that payments will be made.   


The Management Committee of the Fund will nominate sufficient assessors, normally from within its membership, to act independently to evaluate applications.  For each application there will be a minimum of two assessors one of whom will lead the evaluation with others assisting.  They will review the case and arrange visits as appropriate.  The lead assessor will be the main contact with the applicant and all communications should be made via this route.  This will avoid any confusion or omission and will present the applicant with a personal contact with whom they can ask questions or check progress. 

Financial means test

IGEM will undertake means testing before any award is made.  By necessity this will include personal data to undertake a financial means test for the application.   Where the beneficiary can produce evidence that they are in receipt of state benefits that are already means tested, this will be deemed sufficient, and no further assessment would be required.  

The outcome of a means test will be a recommendation whether to proceed and, if appropriate, an upper limit to the financial level of award.

Committee decision

The result of the application and any award will be communicated to the lead assessor who will inform the applicant and confirm the arrangements for the award to be made.  A decision will normally be made within 10 to 14 working days.