FRSB complaints fewer than expected, says expert

The Fundraising Standards Board's first annual review has shown that people are less likely to be upset by fundraising than previously imagined, according to an expert.

“In relative terms, there haven't been a lot of complaints,” said Gordon Michie, director of development at fundraising consultancy Relationship Marketing and an executive on the board of the Institute of Fundraising Scotland.

Driving Up Standards, which was published on Thursday, revealed that 8,343 complaints were made about the FRSB’s 826 members in the watchdog’s first year. Most were dealt with by the charities concerned at stage one of the FRSB's procedure. Four complaints were dealt with at the second stage by the FRSB. Only one complaint was taken to adjudication level.

“The figures suggest that fundraisers know how to communicate with their donors,” said Michie.

Of the complaints received, 31.1 per cent related to direct mail, 21.7 per cent to data protection issues, 21.1 per cent to telephone fundraising and 13.6 per cent to face-to-face fundraising.

Michie said the figures needed to be put into context. “We need to know what percentage of actual contact with the public these complaints represent,” he said. “As a conservative estimate, I reckon there are six million telephone fundraising contacts made every year, so complaints represent just 0.03 per cent of all contact made.”

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