In the last weeks, JCI Malta has been reviewing Subsidiary Legislation 492.03 which dictates new laws with regards to public collections by Voluntary Organisations in Malta. While we understand that there are certain checks and balances that need to occur to make sure NGOs are operating as they should, we believe that the application of certain parts of this legislation will hinder NGOs such as JCI Malta from its efficiency in running community projects.
In 2020, JCI Malta ran the Buy A Meal project, which saw the collection of €19,000+ from public and corporate donations. All of which were invested back into the local economy as well as helped a large number of vulnerable people. Later on, JCI Malta did another fundraiser for the Foodbank Lifeline Foundation at the end of which over €6,000 were passed along to this worthy cause.
The bureaucracy that this legislation adds, with the need to inform the VO with every fundraiser organised as well as limiting donations to a mere €20 per person per day, will make us have to think twice whether such projects can keep on occurring on a regular basis. It would mean that to support other NGOs, businesses and the local community, no matter how worthy the cause, we would be exhausting our own limited resources by either stretching projects endlessly to reach goals, or else end up wasting a lot of time and energy on more paperwork.
Apart from all of this, the legislation does not clearly define several elements, such as:
- Whether business sponsorships and partnerships are considered to be donations, even when the VO is bartering its own services and promotions for the sponsor/partner’s services/money;
- What is the definition of a ‘donation’ by the standards of this regulation;
- Whether it makes sense to have all enrolled VOs stay informing the VO Commissioner about fundraising events even though each VO declares all income from such public collections annually as part of the VO Annual Returns obligations;
- Whether the word crowd funding applies to every type of donation collections done online or whether it refers to third party platforms made specifically for crowdfunding purposes;
- Whether the clause requiring enrolled VOs to inform the VO Commissioner about upcoming fundraisers implies that the VO Commissioner can still stop the enrolled VO from running the fundraiser;
- Whether the organisation would have to enter into any costs had it to engage a collector to raise funds in its name;
- Whether when in kind donations are made to the organisation, the VO would need to hire a professional person to give a value to this donated item, creating extra and unnecessary costs for the organisation in the process and risking organisations having to refuse such donations;
- As well as whether there’s any logical reasoning as to why NGOs will be forced to cap donations to €20 per person per day, even if a person wants to and is able to donate more to a cause. Especially when donations occur online, people donate according to how much they feel they can contribute, capping this is not only detrimental to the success of a fundraiser, but will also lengthen the process of reaching the target number of the fundraiser.
We ask the government to review this legislation to make it fairer on NGOs. To keep in mind that most of these organisations are run by volunteers and serve to address several community issues that the government can’t tackle by itself or at all. While we understand and support controls which help us run in the most efficient and transparent matter, we welcome any government assistance in achieving this.