Complaints about door-to-door fundraising rose by 110% last year, report says

09 Nov 2023 News

By Halfpoint/Adobe

Complaints to charities about door-to-door fundraising more than doubled from 1,936 in 2021-22 to 4,056 in 2022-23, according to a new report. 

The regulator’s latest annual complaints report examined complaints escalated to the regulator from 5 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, alongside a sample of 57 of the UK’s largest fundraising charities. 

The study found the increase in door-to-door fundraising complaints was evenly spread across its sample charities. 

For the first time in the report’s history, door-to-door fundraising generated more complaints than any other method. 

The other most complained about fundraising methods were charity bags or clothing banks, addressed mail, digital fundraising and collections. 

These five fundraising methods accounted for 62% of complaints received. 

In 2021-22, the most complained about fundraising method was the use of charity bags or clothing banks. 

The sample charities told the Fundraising Regulator that the number of households they visited increased significantly from 18.8 million in 2021-22 to 22 million last year. 

‘Many find fundraisers calling after dark intimidating’

The report states that many complainants expressed a dislike for door-to-door fundraising.  

“People contact us to say they find fundraisers calling after dark intimidating, especially in the autumn and winter, or to complain that young children have been woken up. This matches complaints made in previous years.”

Concerns were also raised about the vulnerability of those being asked for donations. At the same time, the report warned charities using agency subcontractors for door-to-door fundraisers that this can make proper oversight of their activity more challenging. 

Last month, the Fundraising Regulator announced its first-ever market inquiry into the use of subcontractors in fundraising after media reports of subcontractors pressuring people to make donations to charity. 

‘More complaints than any other method’

Jenny Williams, chair of the complaints and investigations committee at the Fundraising Regulator, said: “This year’s Annual Complaints Report sees a continuation of themes that have been established in previous reporting periods, but importantly marked the first time that door-to-door fundraising generated more complaints than any other method.  

“While door-to-door fundraising remains an effective method for charities, both in terms of securing donations and increasing awareness, the marked increase in complaints does indicate that there are higher risks involved in this activity and that it is increasingly disliked by members of the public. 

“It is therefore important for charities to remain vigilant and ensure sufficient care is taken to make sure all fundraising, particularly methods that engage directly with the public, especially those who are potentially vulnerable, is fully compliant with the Code of Fundraising Practice. 

“We will continue to work closely with charities to help ensure they have the guidance and tools they need to fundraise responsibly.” 

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