The Fundraising Regulator has published its annual report into complaints that have been escalated to it in the course of the year from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. This year’s report reflects how fundraising has been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the sources of complaints have changed drastically.
As well as examining the complaints received by the Fundraising Regulator, the report looks at the complaints received by 56 of the largest charities in the UK, which each spend over £5 million per year on fundraising activities. These charities participated in a voluntary survey, sharing the number of complaints they received and some of the reasons why – providing an insight into the trends seen in fundraising complaints.
Complaints relating to in-person fundraising fell, unsurprisingly as for much of the period covered by the report, in-person fundraising was simply not an option due to lockdowns. On the other hand, complaints about online fundraising increased by 252% and the most common reason for these complaints was that the information presented to the donor was misleading. The report emphasises that charities should exercise caution when fundraising online and upskill fundraising teams to reduce the risk of breaches of the Code of Fundraising practice. A review of the Code in 2022 will consider whether the existing standards for digital fundraising are adequate.
Only a very small number of complaints were related to the pandemic, with people concerned about fundraising taking place in person. Charity bags remained the most complained about method of fundraising.
Overall, the report contained some good news as the total number of complaints has declined from the previous year, continuing the trend for the past three years.