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Charity Commission urges charities to “listen and learn” when they receive complaints

Charities continue to play a vital role in our society, as they have for centuries. Most charities rely on the goodwill of volunteers, including their trustees, to carry out their work and all charities rely on public goodwill for the special status they hold. Charities’ ethos and purpose is part of what makes them unique. It’s also a factor in why the public has high expectations of them.

The Charity Commission has reviewed complaints and reports about charities that fall below the threshold for regulatory action, to help it, and charities, learn from the matters raised by the public. The review is part of the Commission’s commitment, set out in its 2018 to 2023 strategy, to ensure no complaint is ignored. All complaints about charities contribute to the Commission’s assessment of risks facing charities, even where no direct regulatory action is required.

The Commission says the review revealed that most complaints come from people invested in a charity – including beneficiaries, supporters, volunteers and trustees – and relate to issues that affect them personally. The Commission says that “it isn’t the case that people only complain about a few large household name charities”.

Findings and themes from the review:

  1. People who complain are usually people you know
  2. Be accountable – it’s worth making the effort to explain and to listen properly
  3. Don’t take your status as a charity, and the public’s support, for granted
  4. How you do something is as important as what you do

Read the full review here.