Technical issue led to double reporting of donations during fundraisers, GO says

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A technical issue led to the double registration of pledged donations during several fundraising marathons last year, meaning that the real amount collected is €1.4 million less than originally thought.

GO said on Monday that donors were not billed twice and that it is ensuring that the error does not happen again.

“A number of telethons organised between October 2020 and January 2021 required specific infrastructure provided by GO that brings into play multiple technologies for the telethons to operate.  On these occasions however, a technical issue led to a double registering of pledged donations from GO registered numbers,” the telecoms company said.

The issue was a system-related one, which only impacted the reporting structure. This means that donations originating from GO numbers were reported twice.  Customers were not billed twice for their donation.

“The overall discrepancy between the recorded amounts and the actual figures amounted to around €1.4 million overall,” GO said.

The main fund raisers affected by this one-time technical glitch were the Istrina campaign organised by the MCCF, Dar tal-Providenza, Caritas Malta and the two marathon fund raisers organised by the two major political parties, amongst others.  

All entities were unaware of this technical issue and it was only in February, when GO commenced its reconciliation exercise that the discrepancy was discovered and that all affected fund raisers were notified.

“This issue was brought to light during the exhaustive reconciliation and reporting procedures we go through when these telethons are over. Our teams have already established what led to this anomaly and are implementing measures to avoid this in future events,” said a spokesperson for GO.

“We go through rigorous testing of the system before every event, however no matter how prepared we are, we can never fully anticipate the unexpected. We have been in discussions with the organisations impacted by this incident and are looking at ways of how we can support them going forward. This incident is deeply regretted and we would like to reassure the general public that they were not billed twice for their generous contributions,” concluded GO’s spokesperson.

Dar tal-Providenza, Caritas plans ‘derailed’ – Church

In a statement, the Church said it noted GO’s statement “with regret.”

The Administrative Secretary of the Archdiocese, Michael Pace Ross, said that almost half this amount, equivalent to €654,000, will derail the original plans of Dar tal-Providenza and Caritas, impacting this year’s operations of these two charitable entities of the Church.

Pace Ross expressed his disappointment during a meeting with GO’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Nikhil Patil, and emphasised that this was not the level of service the Archdiocese expected from GO.

“While acknowledging the technical explanation given, Mr Pace Ross hoped that such an incident would not repeat itself, and that more rigorous testing is carried out on the donation systems.”

The Archdiocese said it took note of the apology made by GO, and welcomed the company’s commitment for seeking ways to support both Dar tal-Providenza and Caritas.

Caritas appeals for donations

In a statement, Caritas Malta appealed for donations after it emerged that its income from its recent fundraiser was €244,000 less than originally thought.

The sum, in fact, has been revised from €668,280 down to €424,170.

While expressing its disappointment, including at the fact that it had already made plans on how to use the donations collected, the organisation thanked all those who had donated money to the organisation.

It urged people to donate so that it can continue providing professional services to help vulnerable persons. Donations can be made on www.caritasmalta.org

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