Fundraising Regulator publishes Complaints Report 2018/19

Today the Fundraising Regulator publishes our Complaints Report 2018/19, which reveals that public complaints about door-to-door charity fundraising have decreased by nearly 22% over the past year.

The report collates the number of complaints reported by 58 charities that spend more than £5 million per year on fundraising, as well as our own complaints data. The information is in two parts; part one focuses on complaints we received between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019, and part two on complaints reported by the charity sector between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

Although complaints about door-to-door charity fundraising have fallen significantly since 2017/18, it is the second most complained about fundraising method overall. Other popular methods of fundraising that had a significant fall in complaints include online advertising, clothing collections and email fundraising.

The most complained about fundraising practice reported by the 58 charities in our sample was addressed direct mail. This generated 5,619 complaints, an increase of nearly 20% on the figure reported in 2017/18. 

While the sector reported a significant fall (55%) in the number of complaints about clothing collections, the Fundraising Regulator received more complaints about this method than any other.

Overall, complaints made to the Fundraising Regulator decreased by 33% on the previous year. We received 737 complaints between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019, and completed investigations into 82 cases. In more than half of these cases (49), we identified at least one breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice and made recommendations for improvement. 

The following themes emerged from our investigations:

  • 20 (24%) related to the treatment of vulnerable donors,
  • 18 (22%) related to misleading information on fundraising materials, and;
  • 11 (13%) related to ‘no charity bag’ signs on properties not being observed.

Through the Annual Complaints Report, we share examples from our casework, provide analysis of complaints received by the charity sector over the course of the year, and illustrate learnings from our investigations. We will soon be engaging with charities and the fundraising sector on the future format and content of the report to ensure it is a useful tool for sharing information and learning. 

Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: 

“Our Annual Complaints Report is crucial in providing us with a clear picture of fundraising standards in the UK. The findings help us to identify areas which need greater attention from us, but also allows us to see where there has been improvement. We are grateful to the sector’s continued positive response to the recommendations we make and I look forward to working closely with fundraising organisations to maintain the high standards of fundraising practice we see today.”

Michael Smyth, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator Complaints Committee, said: 

“The drop in complaints that we, and charities operating across the sector, received over the past year demonstrates the hard work that is going on to improve fundraising. We are pleased with the sector’s willingness to engage with us, and the self-regulatory model.”

For further information, please contact the Fundraising Regulator’s press team on 020 3327 4050 or