Charity mail on the wrong frequency

Complaints about direct mail have topped the list of issues with charity marketing raised by consumers. The Fundraising Standards Board, which requires members to monitor all complaints alongside their marketing volumes, recorded 5,081 complaints against members’ direct mailings, up from 3,608 in 2008.

But the volume of mailing activity by FRSB members has also shot up to over 200 million items last year from 53 million in 2007 (volume figures for 2008 were not recorded). That gives a complaint rate of just 0.003 per cent by volume.

“What is evident from three years’ cumulative data is that complaints remain low relative to activity,” says Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB. “And yet, there are a few core areas of fundraising that consistently attract a higher rate of complaints than others. It is clear that no two years in fundraising are the same, particularly during and post a global recession. The techniques used vary considerably as fundraisers innovate and adapt to the changing demands of donors.”

Telephone fundraising calls generated 2,147 complaints, while door-to-door calling accounted for 2,106. There were 1,172 complaints about data protection issues. Analysis of the direct mail complaints showed that consumers were most concerned about the frequency of contact, while it was the tone of phone calls that led to the most complaints. Email generated just 234 complaints and online fundraising only 60 despite 626 and 825 per cent rises in activity respectively.

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