Public complaints about door-to-door charity fundraising have decreased by nearly 22% over the past year, while those about addressed mail and fundraising at outdoor events have risen.
The report collates the number of complaints reported by 58 charities that spend more than £5 million per year on fundraising, as well as the regulator’s own complaints data. The charities in the sample reported 4,094 complaints about door-to-door fundraising between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, down from 5,239 in the previous year.
Individuals cited the behaviour of fundraisers and knocking at an inappropriate time as the top reasons for their complaints.
Other methods of fundraising also saw a significant fall in complaints:
- Clothing collections: down 55% from 2,478 complaints in 2017/18 to 1,110 in 2018/19
- Online advertising: down 16% from 1,517 complaints in 2017/18 to 1,278 in 2018/19
- Email fundraising: down 15% from 1,277 complaints in 2017/18 to 1,080 in 2018/19
According to the regulator, while complaints about door-to-door charity fundraising have fallen significantly since 2017/18, it is the second most complained about fundraising method overall. The most complained about fundraising practice reported by the 58 charities in the sample was addressed mail. This method generated 5,619 complaints, which is an increase of nearly 20% on the figure (4,709) reported in 2017/18.
Fundraising at outdoor events completes the top three most complained about fundraising practices with 2,054 complaints: a 43% increase on the previous year.
While the sector reported a significant fall (55%) in the number of complaints about clothing collections, the Fundraising Regulator received more about this method than any other.
Overall, complaints made to the Fundraising Regulator itself decreased by 33% on the previous year, with it receiving 737 between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019.
Of these, it completed investigations into 82 cases. In more than half of these cases (49), the regulator identified breaches of the Code of Fundraising Practice and made recommendations for improvement.
From the regulator’s investigations, the following themes emerged:
- 20 (24%) related to the treatment of vulnerable donors
- 18 (22%) related to misleading information on fundraising materials
- 11 (13%) related to ‘no charity bag’ signs on properties not being observed
The Fundraising Regulator will soon be engaging with charities and the fundraising sector on the future format and content of the Annual Complaints Report to ensure it remains a useful tool for sharing information and learning.
Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator, Gerald Oppenheim, said:
“Our Annual Complaints Report is crucial in providing us with a clear picture of fundraising standards in the UK. The findings help us to identify areas which need greater attention from us, but also allows us to see where there has been improvement. We are grateful for the sector’s continued positive response to the recommendations we make and I look forward to working closely with fundraising organisations to maintain the high standards of fundraising practice we see today.”
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