Fundraising Regulator publishes new guidance on complaints

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The Fundraising Regulator has today published new complaints guidance and made a change to the Code of Fundraising Practice, which now requires charities to make their complaints procedures publicly available. 

The three-page guidance is intended for fundraising charities and third-party agencies and has been issued to help said organisations “deal with complaints about fundraising appropriately, defining what a complaint is and outlining what is expected of organisations when handling complaints”. 

It following a consultation with the sector earlier this year. In a sumaary of the 40 consultation responses published on its website the regulator said that 80 per cent of those that submitted a response supported the new wording. 

The guidance has been issued to coincide with a change made today to the Code of Fundraising Practice. Code 1.6 about complaints now says that all organisations must have a “clear and publicly available complaints procedure which must also apply to any third parties fundraising on their behalf”. 

The previous iteration of the code did not stipulate that complaints procedures had to be "clear and publicly available". 

The new code also says that complaints must be “investigated thoroughly and objectively to establish the facts of the cause, avoiding undue delay and complaints are responded to fairly, proportionately and appropriately”. 

The regulator has also reiterated to charities and agencies the “need for organisations to learn from the complaints they receive and apply the learning to future fundraising activity”. 

The new complaints handling guide can be read here and the amended Code of Fundraising Conduct can be found on the Fundraising Regulator’s website here. 

Michael Smyth, chair of the regulator’s complaints and investigations committee, said: “It’s become clear from some of the cases we have investigated that some organisations need to improve the way they deal with complaints from the public about their fundraising practices. 

“This guidance has been designed to help charities put in place an effective procedure to ensure any future complainant can settle their dispute with the charity directly.”

Suzanne McCarthy, chair of the regulator’s standards committee, said: “The response we received to the consultation earlier this year was very supportive for the change we proposed to make on complaints handling. The guidance produced by the casework team will no doubt help fundraisers and charities comply with this additional and important standard.”

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