The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has today asked its charity members to complete their compulsory Annual Complaints Return, summarising all the fundraising complaints they have received during 2010.
For the first time, the self-regulatory body's survey will cover complaints about legacy fundraising and house-to-house clothing collections, making it the most comprehensive of its annual surveys to date.
Last year the FRSB introduced questions for its members about direct mail and telephone fundraising, the areas of fundraising that attract the most complaints. These identified that the public was most concerned about the frequency of fundraising mailings and the tone of telephone calls.
This year's new questions on legacy fundraising are designed to discover if there are particular methods and channels that offend the public more than others and whether the administration of legacy pledges is an area of major concern. The new questions on house-to-house clothing collections are included partly to help establish benchmarks for the new House-to-House Collections Code of Practice which will be launched this year by the Institute of Fundraising.
Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, said: "A key aim of our Annual Complaints Return is to gauge public opinion of the various fundraising methods used. By expanding the breadth and detail of the returns we hope our members will be able to provide further critical information that will help shape best practice guidance in the future, ultimately ensuring that complaints are kept to an absolute minimum."
The return requests information about the type of fundraising activity conducted, volume levels and complaints received by each member charity. Complaint figures for 2009, published last year, showed that levels of complaints remained low, with an average of one complaint received for every 208,000 fundraising contacts or approaches made.
For the first time, the FRSB has this year enlisted independent fundraising specialist and researcher Professor Adrian Sargeant to analyse the returns data and the trends it presents. His findings will be reported in the FRSB's Annual Report in June 2011.
Sargeant, Professor of fundraising at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Professor of fundraising and nonprofit marketing at Bristol Business School, said: "The FRSB is doing vital work in understanding the nature of complaints made about fundraising practice in this country. Only when we understand the areas where we're weak can we begin to develop our professional practice and improve public confidence as a consequence".
All current member charities of the FRSB that joined before July 2010 are required to complete an annual complaints return. The deadline to submit them is 7 March 2011.