FRSB writes off pen complaint

In its first full adjudication on a fundraising complaint, the Fundraising Standards Board has come down against a man who was sent 13 pens by Cancer Research UK.

He complained that he had been “aggressively targeted” over two years by unaddressed CRUK mail containing the pens – four of which, he claimed, arrived on the same day.

He complained first to CRUK, but was not satisfied by several email responses and went to the FRSB. The board itself considered the complaint.

The charity told the board it did not accept that the complainant has received 13 unaddressed mailings over the past two years. It said a maximum of three unaddressed mailings had been sent to his area during that period.

CRUK said that, after studying a photograph of the 13 pens the complainant claimed to have received, it was apparent that at least four of the mailings had been received more than two years before.

The charity said addressed cold mailings during the period in question might have accounted for some of the pens he received: a maximum of six addressed pens could have been sent, but it was likely to be less.

The charity said it did not feel it had aggressively or wastefully targeted the complainant.

The FRSB considered whether there was a breach of the fundraising promise and concluded there was not sufficient evidence to show all 13 pens had been received within a two-year period.

“It is possible that four of the pens were received outside that period,” the adjudication said. “Whilst accepting that the complainant had grounds for being annoyed, the receipt of this number of mailings… did not amount to unreasonable nuisance or disruption, and neither did it indicate that CRUK is not committed to high standards.”

Jon Scourse, chief executive of the FRSB, said: “The first complaint that has gone to stage three of our process has shown our system works well and is robust.

“We’ve also been handling some complaints that have been resolved at the second stage, but the majority of complaints will be settled directly by the charity concerned. We will be able to report more broadly when our annual review is published in the spring.”

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