Doorstep fundraising sees massive hike in complaints, says FRSB

Charity fundraising regulator, the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB), has today published its annual complaints report, revealing a total 33,744 fundraising complaints reported to UK charities in 2012, and shows a 93% increase on doorstep fundraising complaints from 2011.

The FRSB Complaints Report 2013 presents an overview of complaints received by 1,068 charities with fundraising programmes that deliver £4.16 billion in voluntary income annually.

Key findings include:

33,744 complaints were raised about charity fundraising in 2012

Over two thirds (68%) of charities report no complaints about their fundraising

Half of charity fundraising complaints are incurred by less than 2% of charities reporting

More than 8 in 10 (83%) of charities that solicit direct debit donations on the doorstep report complaints about it

Complaints are mainly incurred by larger charities undertaking high volumes of fundraising activity.

Direct mail, telephone and doorstep fundraising remain the three most common methods for complaint, but for the first time since the FRSB began monitoring in 2008, direct mail concerns have fallen, now amounting to 40% of all complaints, down from 48% in 2011.

Charity fundraising varies from one organisation to another in terms of the methods used, the amount of people reached and the messages conveyed.

The number of asks continues to grow year on year as charities strive to overcome funding cuts and maintain income levels.

Annual growth in both fundraising activity (38%) and complaints (9%) is also reflective of the increased number of charities reporting to the FRSB as more organisations commit to self-regulation of fundraising.

Colin Lloyd, chair of the Fundraising Standards Board, said: “With so many charities reporting no complaints at all and the overwhelming majority of issues being resolved at Stage 1, the charity sector as a whole continues to perform well.

"But the sector must not be complacent. Looking across the full data set, there are a number of fundraising activities and behaviour that the public is unhappy about.”

The FRSB Complaints Report 2013 highlights three key areas of concern:

Doorstep fundraising – Direct debit charity solicitations on the doorstep incurred 5,555 complaints in 2012, a 93% increase on complaints from 2011. More than eight in ten (83%) of charities that fundraise this way report concerns from the public. The lead cause for complaint is fundraisers’ behaviour, followed by a general dislike of the method.

Telephone fundraising – Complaints about telephone fundraising rose 64% over the past year to 6,379 against a 15% volume increase. Almost two thirds of charities that fundraise over the telephone report complaints about it.

Data protection – Charities with data protection complaints report that these concerns constitute one tenth of all fundraising complaints to the organisation. This indicates that these complaints are not isolated errors, but a symptom of poor data management.

Data protection is the lead cause for email fundraising complaints.

Lloyd added: “Fundraisers must take great care in what they do and how their actions may be perceived. Often it is a fine line between communicating the cause and need for funding effectively, while ensuring that members of the public do not feel uncomfortable with the way fundraisers go about it.

“With the majority of charities that fundraise on the doorstep reporting complaints about behaviour, practitioners are advised to listen carefully to consumer concerns, address the issues and, where relevant, adapt accordingly.”

The FRSB has published a series of recommendations, also committing to:

Initiate further analysis into the cause of telephone fundraising complaints from 2012

Work closely with the Institute of Fundraising and Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (as well as other trade and regulatory bodies) to ensure that the key areas of public concern are addressed in standard development, training and guidance.

Introduce a new auditing programme to assess compliance with the requirements of self-regulation of fundraising

This article was taken from Charity Times – http://www.charitytimes.com/ct/Doorstep_fundraising_sees_massive_hike_in_complaints_says_FRSB.php