Posted on
May 23rd, 2012    

Complaints triple as charities turn to email fundraising

Charities are facing the risk of alienating supporters as complaints from email fundraising communications rose by a huge 282% last year, a recent report has revealed.

Charities are moving over from the direct mail approach to email campaigns in a bid to reduce costs and target a more specific audience but the poor use of data in their campaigns is proving unpopular with supporters.

The Fundraising Standards Board felt that the increase in complaints was out of proportion to the 25% increase in the volume of fundraising emails sent and says the complaints “form a telling picture of those issues that disengage donors and ultimately turn them off from giving altogether”.

The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) is a self-regulatory body which aims to provide the public confidence in the ways money is raised by charities and to promote best practice in fundraising.

The chief executive of the FRSB, Alistair McLean, warned that while donors have a huge potential for good in terms of support and fundraising, there is also a potential to spread negative brand perceptions if complaints rise and are not handled properly.

He goes on to say “As a result of email marketing being a relatively young and easy to use channel, there will be some inevitable errors made. Obviously all communications are well intentioned but lessons need to be learned and particular attention has to be paid to data security”.

“The sector should be praised for its openness about complaints and while the number of complaints is infinitesimal compared to the message sent, it still might be enough to turn people off. One email could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and drives away a supporter”.

The number of complaints about marketing communications overall increased 67% year on year in 2011 whilst fundraising activity saw an increase of 141%.

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