The pandemic’s impact on complaints about fundraising in the UK has been revealed in the Fundraising Regulator’s latest Annual Complaints Report.
As lockdowns halted in-person fundraising and charities increased digital activity, online fundraising, which includes social media, charity websites and advertising banners, attracted the most complaints.
Between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, 56 of the UK’s largest fundraising charities reported 5,836 complaints about online fundraising to the Fundraising Regulator. This is a 252% increase on the figure reported in the previous year, and is also the first time in four years that it has been the most complained about method reported by the charities in the Regulator’s sample.
However, in comparison with the level of online activity carried out, the number of complaints reported is relatively small. Just 1 in 1,886,192 impressions received a complaint.
The second and third most complained about methods were addressed mail, which received 3,687 complaints, and corporate fundraising, which received 2,504.
Overall, with less fundraising activity taking place during the pandemic, the total number of complaints received by the sample charities fell. 17,800 complaints were received, down by 4% on the previous year’s figure.
The most common cause of complaint across all fundraising methods received by the Regulator was misleading information. This could involve unclear claims about why donations are needed or how they will be spent, or a failure to present information that allows the donor to make an informed decision.
Fundraising Regulator chief executive, Gerald Oppenheim said:
“The Annual Complaints Report provides us with a really important overview of how the fundraising landscape has changed over the past year. This report is an early indicator of the impact of the pandemic on the charity sector and it is a vital tool to help us understand where the sector needs to improve its fundraising practices.
“It is encouraging to see that the overall number of complaints about charitable fundraising continued to decline during the pandemic, which shows that good fundraising practice has prevailed at a time of unprecedented challenges for the sector.
“We will continue to work closely with charities to support them in some of the areas the report has identified – particularly in relation to online fundraising – and make sure both charities and the public are equipped with the tools to fundraise, and donate, safely.”
Picture by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
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