The number of charities registered with the Fundraising Regulator has increased, while the number of suppression requests received through the Fundraising Preference Service has dropped, according to the regulator's latest annual report.
The report states that at 31 August 2019, a total of 3,597 charities were registered with the regulator, up from 3,000 last year.
It also says that in the prior 12 months, 8,719 direct marketing suppression requests were received through the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS). These were received from 2,820 people and were regarding 846 charities.
The suppressions figure is down by 4,618 requests (35 per cent) compared to the previous year's 13,337, and significantly down on the first year of the service's operation, when 19,583 requests were received.
Since the service's launch in July 2017, 1,729 charities have received at least one suppression request.
The report states that throughout the year the regulator sought to raise awareness of the FPS through “targeted marketing campaigns and the press”.
The annual report states that nearly 30 per cent of users make suppression requests on behalf of others, which the regulator suggests is an indication that the service “is helping vulnerable people”.
The FPS will undergo a formal review in January 2020, and the regulator also intends to examine the role played by its ‘Fundraising Badge’ in demonstrating the support of charities for the standards in fundraising.
Elsewhere, a total of 757 complaints from the public were resolved by the Fundraising Regulator in the year to 31 August 2018. This was a 33 per cent drop in incoming complaints from the previous period.
The regulator states that the fall in complaints “was in part due to the changes we made last year to our online complaints form to clearly explain what we can and cannot investigate”. The report adds that “although we continue to receive a significant number of complaints that are out of our remit, the majority of these are received via our complaints telephone line, rather than our online form.”
Changes to the voluntary fundraising levy
The regulator has also increased income from the voluntary fundraising levy to £2.172m. This is just short of the £2.2m running costs set out in the three-year strategy published in 2018. The cross-party review of fundraising recommended a budget of between £2m and £2.5m.
This year the regulator revised the levy with the aim of making it fairer for charities by introducing extra bandings for smaller charities and basing it on more recent financial information, though these changes came into effect after the time period covered by the annual report.
The Fundraising Regulator is funded through a voluntary levy on charities spending £100,000 or more each year on fundraising. Other charities outside the levy can register with the regulator by paying an administrative charge of £50 a year.
Lord Toby Harris, chair of the fundraising regulator, said: “Since I became chair in January 2019, I have seen record numbers of charities paying the levy and organisations registering with us. This clear demonstration of support from fundraising organisations shows the appetite for voluntary regulation from across the sector.
“Charities have made excellent progress since 2016 and are working hard to build public trust and confidence in their fundraising activities.”