A wave of complaints about fundraising?

Afraid of donor complaints?

The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) in the UK recently released information on charity complaints in 2010: Annual Charity Fundraising Complaints Top 18,000.

Gasp! Horror! More than 18,000 complaints! Worse yet, more than half of those complaints were generated by direct mail. Sounds like direct mail fundraisers in the UK have a huge problem!

Or maybe not. The FSRB report gives us some context: the volume of activity that generated those complaints.

Pie
The 9,462 complaints about direct mail were generated by 146,241,806 pieces sent. That means 0.006% of the direct mail pieces sent caused complaints.

0.006%. That’s a portion so small it’s effectively zero.

But what about telemarketing? Everybody hates telemarketing.

Yes, telemarketing has a shocking complaint rate. More than four times that of direct mail: 0.026%. Also so small it’s hardly there.

(Of course, these aren’t all the complaints. The individual charities no doubt also got some. But if we doubled, tripled, even multiplied by 10 the number of complaints, it’s still insignificant. A cell phone company that had a complaint rate like that would take over the world.

Complaints loom large in our minds. They speak to our fears. They often cause us to alter course.

But it helps to put complaints in context. How many complained compared to the total number reached? How many compared to those who responded with a gift?

Of course, we have to pay attention to each complaint that comes in. But when complaints can’t even get within shouting distance of a tenth of a percent, we do not have a systemic problem. There are plenty of reasons for changing course. Complaints are almost never among those reasons.

Thanks to Queer Ideas for the tip.


Comments

6 responses to “A wave of complaints about fundraising?”

  1. Jeff, what is your take on face to face fundraising? In terms of complaints, that’s the fundraising method I like the least. Would love to hear your thoughts on its effectiveness.

  2. Jeff, what is your take on face to face fundraising? In terms of complaints, that’s the fundraising method I like the least. Would love to hear your thoughts on its effectiveness.

  3. Yes, it’s a gem of a report isn’t it!

  4. Yes, it’s a gem of a report isn’t it!

  5. Face-to-face fundraising has up- and down-sides. It can be extremely effective in some cases. Listen to this Fundraising Is Beautiful podcast:
    http://fundraisingisbeautiful.com/fundraisingisbeautiful/2011/03/fundraising-in-the-rest-of-the-world.html
    We interviewed Sean Triner, an Australian fundraising expert who really knows face-to-face.

  6. Face-to-face fundraising has up- and down-sides. It can be extremely effective in some cases. Listen to this Fundraising Is Beautiful podcast:
    http://fundraisingisbeautiful.com/fundraisingisbeautiful/2011/03/fundraising-in-the-rest-of-the-world.html
    We interviewed Sean Triner, an Australian fundraising expert who really knows face-to-face.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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