Fundraising Regulator reports increase in payment of voluntary levy, voluntary registrations, and complaints

The Fundraising Regulator’s annual report for 2019/20, published at the start of the month, contained some interesting insights into what was a difficult year for fundraising, covering the regulator's activities during the six months prior to the pandemic, and then the first six months of the pandemic last year. 

Increases in payment of the voluntary levy, and in voluntary registration

The annual report revealed the highest payment rate of the voluntary levy since its creation.  Only 20 charities refused to pay the levy and 63 failed to engage with the regulator at all. The Fundraising Regulator described this in its report as “disappointing”.

The levy is a voluntary contribution that registered charities are invited to make to the regulator if their annual fundraising costs are more than £100,000, but charities that choose not to pay the levy when requested by the Fundraising Regulator are highlighted in red in the regulator’s directory.

The Fundraising Regulator’s report also showed an increase in voluntary registrations with the regulator, with a particular increase in registration by small charities, which was up 35 per cent on the previous year, from 1,668 to 2,262 organisations.

Common complaints about fundraising highlighted

The number of complaints received by the regulator in 2019/20 increased by 13 per cent on the previous year to 836, with the most complained about methods of fundraising being:

  • charity bags,
  • online fundraising, and
  • face-to-face fundraising.

Readers may recall that complaints about the first of these prompted the regulator to issue further guidance on this form of fundraising last November. 

The report also confirmed a decrease in complaints received in March, reflecting the reduction in fundraising as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but noted that as fundraising picked up again half way through the year, so the number of complaints also increased.

Common themes from investigations by the regulator

The report states that the Fundraising Regulator completed 21 investigations during the period, and common themes arising in those investigations included:

  • providing misleading information,
  • applying undue pressure to donate, and
  • poor complaints handling

It also noted that breaches of the Fundraising Code of Practice were found in 80 per cent of the cases in relation to which the regulator published investigation summaries on its website.

FPS: what next?

For those awaiting developments regarding the Fundraising Preference Service, the Fundraising Regulator restated in its annual report that it welcomed the recommendations resulting from the independent evaluation of the FPS carried out last year, and confirmed that it would be looking at how to take the recommendations forward in the 2020/21 financial year.

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