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Complaints to Fundraising Regulator rise 13%

The Fundraising Regulator received 836 complaints – issues unresolvable by the charity involved – in 2019/20, up 13% on the previous year.

According to the Regulator’s fourth annual complaints report, published yesterday, the most complained about methods of fundraising in 2019/20 were charity bags (22%), online fundraising (11%) and face-to-face fundraising (11%).

The regulator received 131 complaints about unwanted charity bags, which also featured as a top complaint in the previous two years.


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As well as looking at complaints that charities were unable to deal with themselves, the report also analyses complaints received by a sample of 56 of the largest fundraising charities. Complaints made directly to these charities totalled 18,569, with addressed mail the most complained about method of fundraising, receiving 22% of complaints. Of these, 34% cited an issue with the frequency of communication.

Charities said that door-to-door fundraising received the second highest number of complaints. The most frequent reason for these complaints concerned the behaviour of the fundraiser. A further 11% of complaints received by charities were about outdoor events, the majority of which involved concerns about the execution and delivery of the event.

The report also reflects on how the fundraising landscape was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. When public fundraising was paused in March, the regulator saw a decrease in complaints. However, complaints picked up a few months later – returning to pre-pandemic levels – as charities begun to adapt their practices and resume activity, in line with Government guidelines.

The Fundraising Regulator’s Chief Executive, Gerald Oppenheim said:

“The Annual Complaints Report gives us a detailed picture of the fundraising landscape and an understanding of the public’s experiences and concerns about charity fundraising. Importantly, it helps us to identify the areas where the sector needs to improve its fundraising practices, and where we need to focus our efforts as the Fundraising Regulator. In response to the charity bag complaints highlighted within the report, we have published new guidance, to ensure that this fundraising activity is carried out in line with the standards set out in the Code of Fundraising Practice.

“It is encouraging that the vast majority of complaints are resolved by charities themselves before they are escalated to the Fundraising Regulator, and we welcome the way charities have continued to engage with our complaints process and respond to our recommendations.”

The Fundraising Regulator has published guidance to both help charities with using charity bags, as well as for the public to help them know what to expect when they receive a charity bag.