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Most complaints investigated by the Fundraising Regulator upheld

28 Mar 2019 News

The Fundraising Regulator has released its latest Complaints Report, which says 81 per cent of complaints it investigated about charities were breaches of the Code of Fundraising Practice.

A total of 78 complaints were investigated by the regulator between 1 April 2017 and 31 August 2018 and 63 were upheld.

In 2017/18 the regulator dealt with just over 1,500 complaints. Nearly 40 per cent of complaints received were not in its remit and the regulator directed people to other organisations, such as the Charity Commission or Action Fraud. 

Most common complaint: door-to-door fundraising

According to the report, 58 charities who spend the most on fundraising received 21,851 complaints between April 2017 and March 2018.

The largest number of complaints were about door-to-door fundraising. This was followed by complaints about addressed mail, clothing collections, online fundraising and outdoor events .

Around a third of the 78 complaints that went on to be investigated were made into charities that spend less than £150,000 per year on fundraising.

The 63 code breaches were most commonly about general principles, third party fundraisers and handling of personal data.

The way that charities monitor third party fundraising agencies who work on their behalf was also investigated.

Michael Smyth, chair of the Fundraising Regulator Complaints Committee, said: “In a tricky year for fundraising, the sector has stayed resilient and demonstrated its commitment to self-regulation and transparency.

“There is still room for improvement in terms of how charities initially deal with complaints and manage third parties before issues are escalated to the Fundraising Regulator, but I have been reassured by the sector’s receptiveness to our recommendations and the willingness of charities to engage with the self-regulatory model.”

Organisations are willing and committed to change

The report shares casework examples and gives analysis on the kind of complaints the Fundraising Regulator received to deliver lessons in best practice.

The regulator said the organisations investigated were willing and committed to making changes where a complaint was upheld.

Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “Our Complaints Report is vital to our understanding of fundraising standards in the UK and helps us inform our work.

“Complaints made by the public make an important contribution to the way we, charities and their fundraising partners learn from concerns and make improvements.

“We will continue to review and evaluate the complaints process and we look forward to working closely with charities to ensure high standards of fundraising practice are maintained.”

IoF response

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: “The comparatively small number of complaints compared to the fundraising activities that inspire millions of people to give every year is positive.

“Having said that, each complaint and breach of the code should be taken seriously and used to improve the experience of supporters.

“As this report makes clear the vast majority of complaints that go to the Fundraising Regulator are dealt with by the charities themselves.

“It is therefore not surprising that the majority of complaints that are investigated by the Fundraising Regulator are found to breach the code, as these are ones that charities have not been able to solve and have been escalated.

“The learnings from these investigations are essential.”


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