Insights from our Complaints Handling Survey 2023

By Sara Asaria, Policy Officer at the Fundraising Regulator

This summer, the Fundraising Regulator ran a complaints handling survey to help us identify whether we could improve our reporting on fundraising complaints data from charities.  

As well as questions about our Annual Complaints Report (ACR), the survey included questions related to the information that we publish about our casework and how this potentially informs fundraising activity. We were grateful to receive over 450 responses, with the majority (95%) from organisations who are currently registered with us. 

Below we highlight the key learnings from the survey, which we will reflect on in the coming months. 

Feedback on our Annual Complaints Report 

Increasing the sample size of charities 

The most notable finding from the survey was that a majority of respondents recommended we increase the sample size in part two of our Annual Complaints Report to more accurately represent the charity sector as a whole. Currently, we collect data from a sample of 58 large fundraising charities. Over 80% of respondents said they would like us to collect complaints data from a wider sample of small, medium and large charities. 

Accessibility and relevance of data 

Other findings suggest that we may need to consider how we can make the report more relevant, engaging and accessible for readers.  

Over 60% of respondents requested that we find new ways to present data about how charities handle fundraising complaints. Suggestions included presenting data in more interactive ways, such as diagrams and charts, and providing analysis and summaries for different audiences, such as trustees. 

When asked how often they read part two of the ACR, around half (48%) told us that they sometimes read the report when they have the time. A further 23% of respondents said they read the report every year. The most common reasons for not reading the report were not finding all of the information directly useful and that it can be too time consuming to engage with the whole report.  

Some respondents requested more information in the ACR on how fundraising organisations handle, and respond to, different kinds of complaints. Suggestions included real life examples and best practice case studies for the most common kinds of fundraising complaints. 

We also received requests to clarify our glossary definitions for the different types of complaints reported on. For example, several respondents asked for greater clarity around the kinds of online activities that should be reported as complaints. 

Feedback on our casework information 

We received mixed feedback to our questions about the casework information we publish. When asked if it’s easy to find the information we publish about our casework, 43% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed, 42% were neutral and 15% disagreed or strongly disagreed.  

We also wanted to find out if our casework data and decisions inform how organisations plan and carry out fundraising. 35% agreed or strongly agreed, whilst 42% of responses were neutral, and 23% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Respondents, especially from smaller organisations, told us that they didn’t always have the time to find or read the case summaries we publish. 

We also posed a question about the frequency and volume of casework information we publish, asking whether this suited the needs of fundraising organisations. From the responses we received, 43% either agreed or strongly agreed, 50% were neutral, and 7% either disagreed or strongly disagreed.  

Next steps 

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate in the survey. We will carefully consider all of the feedback that we received before deciding how we intend to collect and share complaints data in the future. We will provide an update on our plans next year.