Legal | Open | Honest | Respectful


Having a clear fundraising complaints handling procedure in place can help your charity deal with any concerns raised quickly and easily. It also shows the public and your donors that you are committed to best practice in your fundraising.

What is the model for?

This model Complaints Handling Procedure is for dealing with complaints from donors or potential donors about fundraising activities by Scottish charities. This model can be adopted and adapted to suit your charity’s size and structure.

Who can use it?

Charities registered only in Scotland who carry out fundraising activities. Charities registered in Scotland and other parts of the UK, for example, with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW), don’t usually fall under the Scottish system of self-regulation for fundraising.

If you are registered with CCEW you should follow their guidance and that of the Fundraising Regulator.

What is a fundraising complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with the fundraising activities of your charity or someone fundraising on your behalf.

Do we have to use it?

No, but by doing so you’re showing your commitment to best practice. If you use this model you will not need to create your own bespoke complaints process. Whatever procedures you put in place, these should be clear, transparent and accessible. Making a complaint about fundraising should be simple.

We have our own fundraising complaints procedure; do we have to change it?

No, but you will need to update your procedure to reflect the changes to the Scottish system of enhanced self-regulation for fundraising, specifically the inclusion of the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel.

Consider how your fundraising complaints procedure relates to your charity’s wider complaints procedure, if you have one. If you don’t have a general complaints procedure you might want to consider implementing one which incorporates fundraising complaints.

Stage 1: Complain to the charity

An individual complains about fundraising undertaken by or on behalf of your charity. The person that receives the complaint tries to resolve the problem there and then.

If they are unable to solve the problem straightaway or the individual is not happy with the response, the person should either take the individuals contact details and notes of their complaint, OR provide the charity’s contact details so that the individual can put their complaint in writing1 to the charity.

Stage 2: Complain to the charity trustees

This is where an individual is not happy with the resolution at stage, one the complaint should be moved onto the next stage. Ideally, the charity trustees should deal with complaints at stage 2 however, it is recognised that in many small charities the charity trustees will already have been involved at stage 1.

What the charity should do:

  • Send an acknowledgment within 5 working days of receipt
  • Provide a full response within 20 working days of the acknowledgement being sent, or if this is not possible advise the individual when they are likely to get a response.
  • Try to address all the points of complaint when responding.
  • If you need to take action to address the problem, tell the individual what action you will take, why and when it will happen.
  • Advise the individual of the next stage in the process if they remain unhappy with the response: provide contact details for the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel.


Stage 3: complain to the Panel

The individual escalates their complaint to the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel.

The individual must have gone through the charities complaints process before coming to the Panel.

The Panel will decide if:

  • ✓  The complaint is one they can look at.
  • ✓  The complaint is ready for them.
  • ✓  Whether there has been a breach of the Fundraising Code of Practice.
  • ✓  If there has been a breach, what, if any, action is needed?
  • ✓  Whether there are any regulatory matters, which should be referred to the OSCR or (ICO) where a breach of data protection is likely.
  • ✓  It will then make public recommendations

Fundraising complaint examples

Our Address:

Our Address:

Scottish Fundraising Adjudication Panel
c/o The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)
2nd Floor Quadrant House, 9 Riverside Drive
Dundee DD1 4NY
Get In Touch:

Get In Touch:

0808 164 2520
Make A Complaint:

Make A Complaint:

Submit Your Complaint
Skip to content