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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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FRSB aims to halt growing complaints

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The Fundraising Standards Board is to launch an investigation into rising public complaints about fundraising

Door-to-door and telephone fundraising, as well as household collections, are being investigated by the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) amid increasing complaints by the public.

The membership body is asking its members for more information about the types of complaints they receive as part of its annual complaints return.

We are keen to determine whether this increase has continued throughout 2013 - Allister McLean

The FRSB Complaints Report 2013, published last June and based on complaints received by its members in 2012, showed the number of complaints about doorstep fundraising had increased by 93% in just a year to 5,555.

Telephone fundraising was the second most complained-about fundraising method while complaints about household collections increased by 85% to 1,910 over the period.

Charity members of the FRSB must complete the annual return, which includes details of their fundraising activity and complaints received during 2013.

The FRSB believes increased reporting by members is partly responsible for the large rise in complaints

Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB, said: "This year, we are taking a closer look at complaints about telephone fundraising, door-to-door and household collections, which have been on the rise in recent years.

"We are keen to determine whether this increase has continued throughout 2013, if any change is proportionate to the volume of fundraising activity and what issues the public is most concerned about."

Laura Kinks, fundraising communications manager at British Red Cross, one of the largest fundraisers in the UK, said it received very few complaints from the public because it followed a strict code of conduct.

The charity, which uses direct mailing, door-to-door fundraisers as well as telephone marketing to raise donations, said its code had to be followed by all agencies which raised funds on its behalf.

“We follow a quality assurance procedure that’s second to none and respond immediately to individual complaints,” she said,

Meanwhile, it has been announced one of the UK’s most authoritative annual reports into individual giving has been ditched.

The UK Giving Report, co-authored by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and NCVO, has been dropped following widespread criticism of inaccurate forecasts in 2012.

Produced since 2004, the last report said there had been a £2.3bn drop – amounting to 20% – in individual giving, prompting a backlash from individual charities as well as fundraising bodies.

Charities, led by the Institute of Fundraising, said this was not reflected in the sector and that individual giving was in fact increasing.

A spokesman for NCVO said controversy over the report was not the reason for ditching it. “Rather it was an issue of resources as costs associated with the survey were due to increase, and NCVO decided it would best concentrate its efforts on its other research work,” he said.

The two organisations announced they will be building on their individual research strengths and develop complementary programmes of research, but have no plans to produce any more co-authored reports.