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.


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