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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Sharp rise in fundraising complaints

This news post is about 10 years old

Complaints from members of the public to charities about fundraising saw a sharp rise last year according to the latest figures

Membes of the public made nearly 50,000 complaints to charities about fundraising methods last year, according to the latest figures from the Fundraising Standards Board (FrRSB)

The regulator's Complaints Report 2014, which presents an overview of complaints received by charities delivering £4.6 billion in voluntary income annually, shows the total number of complaints reported rose from 33,744 in 2012, a 45% increase.

A small minority of organisations that deliver high volume campaigns are generating the bulk of all concerns - Colin Lloyd

Complaints against charities using addressed direct mail increased 36% as the controversial method continues to dominate complaints received by the FRSB’s 1,203 members.

Telephone fundraising attracted the second highest number of complaints, increasing from 6,379 last year to 8,019 – a 26% rise – although volume increased by a similar amount.

Three charities were responsible for a third of all telephone complaints generated. Tone or content of the call was the most common cause for complaint, followed by a dislike of methods used.

And complaints regarding clothing collections nearly tripled in 2013 to 5,699 from 1,910, despite a 45% reduction in clothing collection volumes.

One unnamed charity is responsible for 72% of all complaints in this category, according to the report, with the main concern about bags not being collected.

However, overall the FRSB said the increase in complaints is offset by an increase in activity from charities that are members of the self-regulatory body. It saw a 51% increase in approaches made from 13.2 billion to 20 billion over the period.

Colin Lloyd, chair of the FSRB, said as charities were having to work harder than ever to raise funds, complaints were increasing.

However he said that reporting was proving to be effective and the sector was addressing complaints better.

“Although the large majority of charities don’t receive any complaints, a small minority of organisations that deliver high-volume campaigns are generating the bulk of all concerns,” he said. “All charities are encouraged to carefully consider public feedback to their campaigns, striving to ensure that fundraising is always a positive experience that inspires the public to support the good causes they care about.”

As part of its role the FRSB works with charities whose complaints exceed those of their peers to address the underlying causes.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF), said it should be recognised that the overall picture is a positive one, with very few complaints compared to the volume of asks.

“That does not mean that we are complacent," said Lewis. "We will review trends at the IoF Standards Committee to make sure that we reflect public concerns, and work to ensure even greater public confidence in our work.

Lewis added: “It’s important to remember that charities will always need to fundraise. Charities need resources to meet their vital objectives.”