Black holes in databases put fundraisers at disadvantage

Charity watchdog Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has warned the bodies it oversees to improve their use of data after seeing complaints about direct mail jump by 86%.


The watchdog’s research reveals that poor data leads to one sixth of all complaints against fundraising communications and adds that the number of complaints against direct mail from charities rose to 9,462 last year, despite a 27% drop in the number of appeals sent through the post.

The annual survey also reveals that 76% of all complaints about email fundraising campaigns were around data protection.

Most direct mail complaints were also to do with poor data, such as mail sent to people who had died, followed by the frequency of appeals and tone of voice.

However, street fundraising continued to receive the most complaints as a percentage of activity at 0.17%, compared with 0.006% of direct mail and 0.03% of telemarketing appeals receiving complaints.

FRSB chief executive Alastair Mclean says: “Although fundraising complaints topped 18,000, this figure is a low proportion of overall fundraising activity.

“As a sector, charities need to ensure that the same care and attention is given to the use of email addresses as a donor’s telephone number or address.”

The watchdog made its first ruling against a charity in 2010 after it failed to resolve complaints about its cash collection practices.

The FRSB’s 1,237 members include major charity brands such as The Samaritans and NSPCC.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here