We need to take fundraising complaints seriously

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​Martin Sime explains why it is not counterintuitive to launch the new fundraising complaints hub

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7th July 2016 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Everything charities do hinges on public trust and support, so it’s really encouraging to know that nine out of 10 people in Scotland supported a charity in the last year by donating money, sponsoring people, volunteering and getting involved in lots of other ways, and that 82% of people in Scotland trust charities.

But we shouldn’t take this trust and support for granted. We need to do everything in our power to maintain and strengthen it. That’s why, although it might seem counterintuitive, we’ve worked with the charity regulator, OSCR, to launch a new free phone line, email and web service designed to make it easier for members of the public to complain about charity fundraising.

Our simple task is to help connect people to charities so that their complaints can be dealt with effectively. We hope this works for the vast majority and that, given the right treatment, some will even migrate from complainers to supporters. For issues which can’t be resolved directly with the charity, there’s an independent panel and then OSCR will step in, but we are all hoping it won’t be needed if charities themselves take complaints seriously.

We need to take fundraising complaints seriouslyMartin Sime

Helping the public complain about poor fundraising practices is in the interests of everyone in our sector.

Helping the public complain about poor fundraising practices is in the interests of everyone in our sector. If the complaints are justified then improvement should follow. If not then a proper explanation will surely help assuage even the most disgruntled caller. Either way, opening charities out to scrutiny about what they are doing and why can never be a bad thing.

The recent scandals and bad press about poor fundraising, at least some of which has been drummed up by our enemies, had the upside of reminding us all about just how precious, and how precarious, public trust is. With the public onside we can move mountains but without it we are nothing.

Those in positions of power and authority in our sector have inherited high levels of public trust and involvement in our work. They need to look after this priceless asset so that they too can pass it on to the next generation.

Today’s launch coincides with the opening of a whole new chapter in the story of fundraising standards and the need for our sector to nurture public trust and confidence in what we do. We need to make this work.

Martin Sime is chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).