The Fundraising Regulator has confirmed that it is considering a complaint about a campaign by Macmillan Cancer Support that encourages people to shave their heads in solidarity with cancer patients who have lost their hair while undergoing treatment.
Critics of the campaign have called it offensive and insensitive in the way that it tries to equate the suffering of people who lose their hair because of illness with a fundraising activity.
Writing on Macmillan’s online community forum, one poster says: "I find this whole campaign offensive, insensitive and patronising, particularly seeing people smile while having their heads shaved, and people cheering.
"If people are with me, maybe we can convince Macmillan to stop this barbaric approach to fundraising."
Another says: "I agree; it's a bit facile. I don't know who thinks up these things, but I think they need to have a word with themselves."
The main objection seems to be that people with cancer often experience great suffering when they lose their hair as a side-effect of treatment so it is galling that people who do not have cancer are voluntarily removing their own locks to raise money.
The campaign has also drawn negative comments on Facebook and Twitter. Macmillan confirmed that it received 55 complaints about last year’s campaign.
This year, the campaign has so far raised £2.9m and more than 22,000 people have participated.
A spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator said it had received one complaint about the campaign and this was currently under consideration. He declined to share details of the nature of the complaint or say why the regulator felt it was worth pursuing.
A spokeswoman for Macmillan said in a statement: "We know that this campaign is not a chosen fundraising method for everyone, but last year we saw more than 23,000 people sign up and raise more than £4.4m.
"We take all feedback very seriously and we will continue to conduct research with fundraisers and people affected by cancer to inform the development of this campaign in the future."
Brave the Shave was the fifth most lucrative charity mass participation event in 2015, according to the events company Massive. The charity’s World's Biggest Coffee Morning was the second biggest, netting almost £28m.