Complaints to Fundraising Regulator fell by a third last year

According to its annual report on the issue, the watchdog received 737 complaints directly in the year to the end of August

Complaints to the Fundraising Regulator fell by a third last year, according to the watchdog’s Annual Complaints Report, published today.

The regulator received 737 complaints directly in the year to the end of August, down by 33 per cent on the previous year.

The report, which also collates the number of complaints made to 58 charities that spend more than £5m a year on fundraising, says that overall complaints to charities themselves fell to 20,541 in the 12 months to the end of April, a year-on-year fall of 6 per cent.

The most complained-about issue raised with charities was addressed mail, which generated 5,619 complaints, an increase of almost 20 per cent on the 4,709 reported the year before.

Complaints about fundraising at outdoor events increased over the year by 43 per cent, to 2,054.

Meanwhile, complaints about door-to-door fundraising fell by 22 per cent to 4,094 from 5,239, although it was still the second most-complained-about fundraising activity, with the top issues being fundraisers’ behaviour and knocking at an inappropriate time.

In the past four years a number of large charities, including Oxfam and the RNLI, have stopped the practice, and a number of door-to-door agencies have closed, which could explain the reduction.

Complaints made to charities about online advertising fell by 16 per cent to 1,278 and complaints about email fundraising fell by 15 per cent to 1,080.

Complaints about clothing collections fell by 55 per cent to 1,110. These complaints were the most likely to reach the Fundraising Regulator because this was the most common issue raised with it directly.

Of the 737 complaints made directly to the regulator between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019, 41 per cent were not within the regulator’s remit and 36 per cent were made prematurely, because the complainant had not taken the complaint to the charity first, a fall of five percentage points on last year.

The complaints to the regulator led to 82 investigations. In 49 cases the regulator ruled there had been a breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice and made recommendations for improvement.

Of these, 20 complaints were related to the treatment of vulnerable donors, 18 to misleading information on fundraising materials and 11 to “no charity bag” signs being ignored.

Michael Smyth, chair of the regulator’s complaints committee, said: “The fall in the number of complaints that we and charities operating across the sector received over the past year demonstrates the hard work that is going on to improve fundraising. We are pleased with the sector’s willingness to engage with us, and with the self-regulatory model.”

The regulator said it planned to consult the sector on the future format and content of the report to ensure it remained useful.

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