Fundraising Regulator plans to explain complaints procedure

The procedure is currently under review

The Fundraising Regulator is reviewing its complaints procedure and plans to disclose soon how the new process will work.

The regulator’s predecessor, the Fundraising Standards Board, had a three-stage complaints process, but according to the Fundraising Regulator’s head of policy, Gerald Oppenheim, the new regulator is not following the same procedure.

A spokesman for the regulator said it was not possible to say what the current procedure was because it was being reviewed.

He said details on how the new system will work would be available in the week starting 14 November, adding that it was standard practice for any kind of organisation to review its processes.

The Fundraising Regulator has several active investigations under way, including an inquiry into the now defunct door-to-door agency Neet Feet, and another complaint that involves the sight-loss charity the RNIB and the face-to-face fundraising agency YFR Fundraising.

The FRSB’s three-stage process operated as follows: in stage one, the charity concerned was given 30 days to address a complaint through its own procedures; if the complaint could not be resolved, this progressed to stage two, when the FRSB mediated between the complainant and charity to reach an amicable resolution; if it still could not be resolved, the complaint progressed to stage three and was referred to the FRSB’s board, which made an independent assessment.

The Fundraising Regulator initially appeared to be following the same procedure. In the case of the RNIB and the YFR, it told the complainant in an email seen by Third Sector that their complaint was being investigated under stage two of its complaints process.

But when asked by Third Sector earlier this month what stage two consisted of, and what circumstances would cause the complaint to progress to stage three, Oppenheim said it was helpful not to use stage two as a term and pointed to the fact that this term was not mentioned on the regulator’s website.

He also said that unlike the FRSB, the regulator did not mediate – instead, it "seeks resolution" – and if a complainant was not content with its decisions on complaints, the procedure was for them to ask for an external review, not the regulator’s adjudication committee, which rules on complaints.

More information on the regulator’s existing complaints policy is available here. The wording of the policy is likely to change soon.

The policy says the regulator has a "turnaround target" of 90 days from the receipt of the complaint to notification of the decision for standard investigations and 180 days for complex investigations.

"They aren’t going to provide a comment on why they’re reviewing existing processes," the regulator’s spokesman said today.

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