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Fundraising complaints rise but remain lower than pre-pandemic levels

Melanie May | 19 October 2022 | News

Charity bag on the doormat

The Fundraising Regulator’s Annual Complaints Report shows that it received 1,080 complaints in 2021/2 – a 19% increase on the previous year. 381 of these complaints were within its scope, with charity bags and digital topping the list.

The Fundraising Regulator’s latest Annual Complaints Report covers the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. It analyses the complaints it received and those reported to 56 of the UK’s largest fundraising charities.

It shows that the number of complaints to the sample charities rose proportionally for most methods in line with increased post-pandemic fundraising activity. 13 of the 23 fundraising methods had increased complaint numbers in 2021/22 compared to 2020/21. However, the overall number of complaints has dropped since 2019/20. This, the Regulator says, is reflective of changes in fundraising activity and public mood during the pandemic, as well as demonstrating the sector’s commitment to high standards of fundraising.


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Out of the 381 complaints, 77 were about charity bags, with digital nearly equal to that at 74. Collections and addressed mail accounted for 48 complaints each. Adverts received 31 complaints, events 22, and face to face 12.

The most common complaint was misleading information, which accounted for 70 of the 381 and was most commonly linked to digital fundraising methods. This was followed by negative fundraiser behaviour, and receiving a charity bag despite a no bag sign. Vulnerability was also a theme threaded into many of the complaints received by the regulator. It is encouraging charities to develop policies to guide how fundraisers interact with people in vulnerable circumstances and keep up to date records about donors who may be vulnerable.

Jenny Williams, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator’s Complaints and Investigations Committee, said:

“The overall decrease in complaints made to charities since 2019/20, the most recent pre-pandemic year, is encouraging and a testament to the commitment that charitable fundraising organisations have to improving practices.


“We will continue to work closely with charities to support them in the areas of concern identified in the report and to ensure they are properly equipped with the tools to fundraise appropriately.”