6 June 2012
Charity Fundraising Complaints Top 30,000
The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) is today unveiling the 2011 Complaints Report for charity fundraising, revealing that 30,848 complaints were received on the back of 9.6 billion contacts.
Key findings include:
- Almost half of all fundraising complaints relate to direct mail (15,373).
- Data protection and poor data accounts for one sixth of all complaints.
- Complaints about household clothing collections exceed 1,000.
- Charities have increased the amount of advertising they do since 2010, which yields low complaint levels.
As in former years, direct mail, telephone and doorstep fundraising continue to attract the highest volume of complaints, but this remains a relatively low proportion of fundraising volume. Corporate fundraising incurs the highest percentage of complaints against volume at 0.3% (however, it is noted that the volume measure is based on corporate solicitations, rather than the number of employees).
One sixth of all complaints (5,441) were prompted by 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 new category of clothing collections was included in the 2011 complaint report, prompted by 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.
The number of complaints in 2011 is 67% higher than in 2010, with fundraising activity having seen a 141% increase. Complaint levels and fundraising volumes reported by FRSB members are expected to grow considerably from year to year, in line with the growing membership base. However, disproportionate complaint growth was identified in three core areas from 2010 to 2011:
- Email fundraising complaints showed the highest growth, rising 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 showing a minimal 2% increase.
Charities invested heavily in advertising in the past year, with outdoor, radio and TV advertising activity seeing particularly steep volume growth of 636%, 371% and 202% respectively. And yet, charity advertising generates the lowest complaint levels of any media.
Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, says: “Complaints form a telling picture of those issues that disengage donors and ultimately turn them off from giving altogether. 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. The response rate to this year’s annual return was 82%.
The annual report also reveals that, during 2011, the FRSB’s membership base increased by 10% to 1,355 organisations. Membership grew particularly rapidly in Northern Ireland (57%) and amongst fundraising suppliers (23%).
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