Complaints to Fundraising Regulator went 'through the roof' in January, says Gerald Oppenheim

The regulator's head of policy was speaking at a Westminster Social Policy Forum event in London

Gerald Oppenheim
Gerald Oppenheim

Public complaints to the Fundraising Regulator went "through the roof" in January, Gerald Oppenheim, the watchdog’s head of policy, has revealed.

Speaking at a conference in London this morning, Oppenheim said the regulator was at a loss to understand a 43 per cent increase in the number of complaints it had received about charity fundraising since the start of 2017 against the previous average.

He said it was clear there was still "quite a high level of concern" about charity fundraising practices.

"Since 7 July last year we’ve had around 500 complaints from members of the public," he said.

"Up to Christmas that was running at around 70 a month, but in January it’s gone through the roof. We don’t know why – it’s not just a pre-Christmas charity fundraising campaign; we can’t discern any trend."

He said the number of complaints had totalled about 100 by the end of January.

Of the 500 complaints the regulator had received overall, some had been directed at the wrong regulator and some had been made before the complainant had approached the charity concerned, said Oppenheim.

In those cases, he said, the regulator had worked with the complainant to ensure their complaint was properly redirected.

He said the regulator generally had a caseload of between about 15 and 20 cases that were under investigation at any one time.

Oppenheim also discussed guidance the regulator is developing about the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation, which will introduce significant changes to data protection laws next year.

The regulator is working on sector-specific guidance on personal information and fundraising, which is due to be launched on 21 February.  

"The guidance will be the first edition because at time of publication we aren’t going to know absolutely what the GDPR will require," said Oppenheim. "There will have to be a second edition that builds on that. We will be looking for feedback."

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