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Fundraising Regulator publishes fourth Annual Complaints Report

The Fundraising Regulator has published its fourth Annual Complaints Report, which analyses complaints we have received over the past year, alongside complaints reported by some of the UK’s largest charities. 

Complaints to the Fundraising Regulator from members of the public have increased marginally by 13% compared to last year. In total, we received 836 complaints, compared to 737 in 2018/19. The methods of fundraising most complained about to us were charity bags (22%), online fundraising (11%) and face-to-face fundraising (11%).

Throughout 2019/20, we received 131 complaints about unwanted charity bags, which also featured as a top complaint in the previous two years. Recognising the public’s concern about this method of fundraising, today we published new guidance to help charities improve their fundraising practices in this area, as well as guidance for the public to help them know what to expect when they receive a charity bag. 

The report also analyses complaints received by a sample of large fundraising charities. Complaints made directly to 56 of the largest fundraising charities totalled 18,569, and the most complained about method of fundraising was addressed mail (22%). Of these complaints, 34% cited an issue with the frequency of communication. 

Door-to-door fundraising was reported by charities as receiving the second highest number of complaints. The most frequent reason for these complaints concerned the behaviour of the fundraiser. A further 11% of complaints received by charities were about outdoor events, the majority of which involved concerns about the execution and delivery of the event. 

The report also reflects on how the fundraising landscape was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. When public fundraising was paused in March, the Fundraising Regulator saw a decrease in complaints. However, complaints picked up a few months later – returning to pre-pandemic levels – as charities begun to adapt their practices and resume activity, in line with Government guidelines. 

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

“The Annual Complaints Report gives us a detailed picture of the fundraising landscape and an understanding of the public’s experiences and concerns about charity fundraising. Importantly, it helps us to identify the areas where the sector needs to improve its fundraising practices, and where we need to focus our efforts as the Fundraising Regulator. In response to the charity bag complaints highlighted within the report, we have published new guidance, to ensure that this fundraising activity is carried out in line with the standards set out in the Code of Fundraising Practice. 

“It is encouraging that the vast majority of complaints are resolved by charities themselves before they are escalated to the Fundraising Regulator, and we welcome the way charities have continued to engage with our complaints process and respond to our recommendations.”

You can download the Annual Complaints Report here.

You can access our charity bags guidance for charities here and for the public here.