Claris Foundation: a Journey of Giving & Accountability

Chetcuti Cauchi | Published on 13 May 2023

Claris Foundation donates Bags of Joy this Christmas

Claris Foundation's Journey in a Nutshell

In short: For 14 years, Chetcuti Cauchi and its entities have used Claris Foundation as an aggregator for other registered voluntary organisations, helping many causes, children, refugees and people in dire straits.  Recently we have decided to disintermediate.  Nowadays, staff, various collaborators of the firm, and the firm's business and personal clients donate the Gift of Time and money directly to those voluntary organisations that support the health and well-being of vulnerable children and refugees in need.

Giving in person

For many years, the ethos of the firm has been that our philanthropic efforts should not merely be financial but should also be in kind, through personal hands-on time dedication. For instance, some of us have dedicated weekly time to orphans in need of help with their studies, others have performed manual work for some of the organisations supported.  Before long, these efforts became contagious and in the course of our work with the varied business and private clients of the firm, our staff had the opportunity to kindle our clients' interest in our various philanthropic projects.

Claris Foundation 2008 - 2022

In 2008 Claris Foundation was set up as a charitable foundation with the specific mission of:

"Supporting the health and well-being of vulnerable children and refugees in need."

Projects supported have always focused on fulfilling the mission of Claris Foundation.  These include:

  • the purchase of Christmas gifts for orphans and refugees,
  • support for a youth programme,
  • the building of a fitness centre for children with disabilities,
  • awareness campaigns for mental health,
  • mental health support for cancer-stricken children,
  • train the trainer programmes for children with mental health issues,
  • graduate programmes for underprivileged children and youths,
  • social programmes for youths and adolescents in Valletta,
  • restoration of an apartment and building of recreational facilities for orphans.
  • funding the purchase of oxygen equipment for covid-stricken localities.

Transparency in Giving

Claris Foundation passed on all significant donations to specific projects proposed by other registered voluntary organisations and considered pursuant to its mission.  All funds raised were donated in their entirety, without any deductions whatsoever for administrative or other costs.

All information concerning funds raised and funds donated was annually submitted to the Malta Office of Voluntary Organisations, and is available to the public for inspection.  The Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations is the regulatory authority responsible for the voluntary sector, entrusted with giving more visibility to the voluntary sector and guaranteeing transparency and accountability of voluntary organisations in the carrying out of their important work. 

While foundations registered as voluntary organisations are not subject to a statutory audit, transparency was one of the differentiating factors we have always emphasised. For this reason, the accounts of the foundation underwent a full annual financial audit.  In their report, the auditors check internal controls and that proper accounting is followed according to international standards. They verify that transactions are backed by documented evidence and they also rely on third-party confirmation to confirm the legitimacy and truthfulness of such transactions.

Philanthropy through a registered foundation

Like many large law firms and business groups in Malta and internationally, our firm established its own voluntary organisation to formalise our charitable and CSR endeavours, for the following reasons:

  • A foundation has a formal governance structure, is accountable and well-organised,
  • Foundations are properly supervised, legally subject to the detailed disclosures to the Office of Voluntary Organisations.
  • As a separate entity, we chose to subject our foundation to voluntary financial audits over and above the legal requirements.

It, therefore, made sense to channel all of our own philanthropic work and fundraising activity through Claris Foundation. 

Our decision to close the foundation was not easy given the name 'Claris Foundation' represented personal human experiences of several people who had so passionately served this cause.  However, we decided that time spent on its administration was eating into our hands-on work within the end charities themselves that are so much at heart.  Claris has therefore been deregistered from the Register of Legal Persons and is in an advanced stage of deregistration with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations. 

Our Giving Today

Today, having removed the formalities of running our own foundation, we can now dedicate all our CSR time and efforts towards benefiting the ultimate causes directly, themselves voluntary organisations subject to the supervision and transparency obligations applicable under Maltese law. Our current philanthropic efforts continue in the form of The Gift of Time.

Charitable donations and the Malta Individual Investor Programme

Under the Individual Investor Programme of 2014, there was no obligation for investors to make any donations as part of the requirements of the Malta citizenship by investment programme.  However, our applicants under the IIP would, over and above the minimum investment requirements, also participate in the social and business fabric of Maltese society, and this has invariably included generous donations to several local charities both before and after naturalisation and on an ongoing basis.

The firm and its affiliate entities have consistently asked potential donors (both companies and private clients) to indicate their philanthropic preferences and consequently presented with several charities that match their preferences.  Invariably, they would donate to more than one charity, sometimes donating also to Claris Foundation.

Due Diligence of Donors and Donations

We have always believed that every donor and donation should pass due diligence at the standards set by anti-money laundering legislation.  Claris Foundation has throughout its operation always applied a high standard of due diligence in addition to the due diligence applied by whichever entity represented the donor individual or company.  It is to be noted that donors also do not take their donation lightly and they often met the foundation's representatives in person, inquired in detail into Claris' operation, and made their own requests for due diligence in respect of the foundation. 

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