Direct mail, telephone and doorstep fundraising continue to attract the highest volume of complaints, according to the Fundraising Standards Board in its 2011 Complaints Report for charity fundraising, published last week. However, despite a substantial increase in the numbers of complaints about fundraising activities, complaints are still a minute proportion of the number of fundraising approaches made in the UK.
The 2011 Complaints Report for charity fundraising reveals that that 30,838 complaints were received by its member charities in response to 9.6 billion contacts with donors and potential donors during the year.
Almost half of all fundraising complaints relate to direct mail (15,373). One sixth of all complaints (5,441) were the result of charities’ use of data: 2,927 data protection complaints were received by FRSB members and a further 2,514 complaints were made concerning inaccurate data use in telephone and direct mail campaigns.
The number of complaints in 2011 is 67% higher than in 2010, but fundraising activity increased by 141% during the period. The FRSB said that it expected both complaint and fundraising activity volumes to grow in coming years as its membership grew. Sixty seven per cent of FRSB members reported no complaints.
Areas of increasing complaints
Three areas saw the greatest increase in complaints:
* Email fundraising complaints rose by 282% over the past year (685% growth since 2009) against a 25% increase of fundraising volume.
* Complaints about outdoor events grew by 187%, while the fundraising volume decreased by 18%.
* Volunteer fundraising complaints rose by 160% with fundraising volume increasing by just 2%.
This year's report introduced a new category of clothing collections, following an increase in calls to the FRSB from concerned members of the public about bogus collections. Over 1,000 complaints were logged by members. Five of these complaints were escalated to the FRSB for resolution.
Areas of least complaints
Charities have increased their use of advertising over the last year, with outdoor, radio and TV advertising activity increasing by 636%, 371% and 202% respectively. However, charity advertising generates the lowest complaint levels of any media.
Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, said: "While complaint levels remain proportionate to fundraising volumes, the significant increase of email fundraising, outdoor events and volunteer fundraising complaints will be closely monitored. Charities’ poor use of data remains a significant worry for supporters and every fundraising organisation must pay particularly close attention to donor permissions, contact preferences, as well as how accurate and up- to-date such data is.”
The top 50 charities (by voluntary income) account for 86% of all fundraising activity and 71% of complaints. Meanwhile, two thirds (67%) of members reported no complaints.