The number of complaints reported to the Fundraising Standards Board by member charities increased by 8.2 per cent last year, at a time when the amount of fundraising activity by members went up by 0.7 per cent, according to the latest FRSB Complaints Report.
The report, published today, shows that 52,389 complaints were recorded by the 1,338 member charities that reported to the FRSB in 2014, compared with 48,432 complaints reported by 1,203 charities in the previous year.
The volume of fundraising contacts increased from just under 20 billion in 2013 to 20.1 billion last year.
The report says that 48 per cent of the increase of 3,957 complaints were recorded by charities that were reporting to the FRSB for the first time.
It says the complaint rate "remained low, with an average of 39 complaints reported per organisation".
Complaints about raffles increased by 44 per cent to 1,428, despite a fall in activity in this area of almost 27 per cent to 33.9 million contacts.
The number of complaints about email fundraising increased by 37 per cent on 2013 to 2,522; email activity went up by 41 per cent to 295 million contacts in 2014. The report says that 6 per cent of this rise in complaints could be attributed to newly reporting charities.
Complaints about telephone fundraising rose by just 0.5 per cent to 8,056, despite a 29 per cent increase in the volume of activity to 18.5 million contacts, the report shows.
This method was the most likely to give rise to a complaint, requiring an average of 740 asks per objection, the report says.
Complaints about doorstep fundraising rose by 8 per cent to 7,618 in 2014, even though the level of activity fell by 4 per cent to 42.6 million asks over the course of the year.
The report says the number of complaints about clothing collections increased from 5,699 in 2013 to 6,974 last year, but the volume of activity went up from 82.1 million contacts in 2013 to 125.1 million in 2014.
It says the increase was largely due to "poor performance by one charity", which is not named.
The main reason for complaints in this area was the non-collection of clothing bags, it says.
The volume of complaints about face-to-face fundraising on private sites, such as in shopping centres, increased by 119 per cent to 1,123 in 2014. This was accompanied by an 86 per cent rise in the volume of contacts, to slightly more than a million last year.
The report says the large majority of complaints were reported by a "relatively small number of major charities". It says the FRSB "is working with those organisations to identify and address any problem areas through its member audit and benchmarking programme".
It says: "Many of these charities reach out to millions of supporters throughout the year and, while it is therefore more likely that they incur complaints, it also holds true they have a greater responsibility to maintain the highest standards and build public trust and confidence."
The report says that charities must take greater care in maintaining their mailing lists because the lead cause of complaints about direct mail was "poorly addressed communications".
It notes that because it covers 2014 it does not take into account complaints generated by the increased scrutiny of charity fundraising that occurred after the death of the 92-year-old poppy seller Olive Cooke.
The FRSB said last month that it had received 384 complaints about charity fundraising since Cooke’s death in May.
In his foreword to the report, Colin Lloyd, chair of the FRSB, writes that this is a defining time for UK fundraising.
"In recent weeks and following the tragic death of volunteer fundraiser Olive Cooke, the importance of listening to and learning from public feedback has never been more evident," he says.
"Charities have faced public scrutiny, with donors, the media, members of parliament from both houses together with the Prime Minister asking questions as to whether fundraisers are overstepping the mark, making too many requests particularly of the elderly and vulnerable, and they are demanding change.
"While we continue to address public concerns and to challenge fundraising standards where appropriate, the onus also lies with every charity to actively engage with and garner feedback from supporters about their own fundraising programmes."