Page last updated at 23:30 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 00:30 UK

Gripes over charities' junk mail

Junk mail
Direct mail is causing "concern and problems", the FRSB says

A third of all complaints about charity fundraising come from people unhappy with junk mail, according to the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB).

This was more than double the amount of gripes about face-to-face fundraising on streets by so-called "chuggers".

A total of 8,434 complaints were received about some of the 826 members of the FRSB's self-regulation scheme.

Nearly 22% of complaints were about data protection, 21% on telephone fundraising and 14% about "chuggers".

'Worrying statistic'

The vast majority of cases were dealt with at an early stage by the charities involved, the FRSB said. Only one went to the final independent adjudication stage.

It said that 31% of complaints related to direct mail, contrary to early expectations that the majority would be about face-to-face fundraising.

"It appears that the practice of direct mail is causing concern and problems for many charities and supporters alike," said Jon Scourse, FRSB chief executive.

"The high number of complaints about data protection issues is a worrying statistic given this issue is bound by legal requirements."

Phil Hope, the government minister who oversees the voluntary sector, said: "Public trust and confidence in charity fundraising is vital."

New rules

This is the FRSB's first annual review. It comes shortly after new rules were brought in on the conduct of professional fundraisers.

Fundraising on the street
A new code of conduct for "chuggers" was introduced in April

Since 1 April, the new Charities Act states that professional fundraisers must say up front to potential donors how much of each donation will go to charity, and what proportion goes to their own wages.

Previously they only had to say which charity they were collecting for and explain the financial commitments people were signing up to.

The FRSB's tick logo is used by charities that are signed up to the self-regulation scheme.

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