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Fundraising supporter complaints procedure

Our policy and procedures

At Porchlight we want to give an excellent service to all our supporters and to surpass your expectations. We recognise, however, that from time to time things can go wrong, and when this happens we want to try to put them right as quickly as possible.

We value complaints as an opportunity to learn and continually improve our service.

Our policy is

  • To provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy to use for anyone wishing to make a complaint
  • To publicise the existence of our complaints procedure so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint
  • To make sure everyone at Porchlight knows what to do if a complaint is received
  • To make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way
  • To make sure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired
  • To gather information which helps us to improve what we do

What is a complaint?

In our view a complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction about any aspect of Porchlight’s fundraising or marketing activity and communications.

Where complaints come from

Complaints may come from any person or organisation that has a legitimate interest in Porchlight, eg donors, corporate partners, members of the local community. This policy does not cover complaints from staff, volunteers or service-users; separate policies exist for these groups.

How to make a complaint

A complaint can be received verbally, by phone, by email or in writing.

Confidentiality

All complaint information will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know and following any relevant data protection requirements.

Responsibility

Overall responsibility for this policy and its implementation lies with the board of trustees and leadership team.

Monitoring and learning from complaints

Complaints are reviewed annually to identify any trends which may indicate a need to take further action.

The complaints process

Where to send complaints:

Written complaints may be sent to Porchlight at 18-19 Watling Street, Canterbury CT1 2UA or by email at headoffice@porchlight.org.uk.

Verbal complaints may be made by phone to 01227 760078 or in person to any of Porchlight’s staff, volunteers or trustees or at any of our events or activities.

You can also log issues through our website, using the ’Compliments, suggestions and complaints’ form.

Receiving complaints

Complaints may arrive through channels publicised for that purpose or through any other contact details or opportunities the complainant may have.

Complaints received by telephone or in person need to be recorded.

The person who receives a phone or in person complaint should:

  • Write down the facts of the complaint
  • Take the complainant's name, address and telephone number
  • Note down the relationship of the complainant to Porchlight (for example: event participant, community group member)
  • Tell the complainant that we have a complaints procedure
  • Tell the complainant what will happen next and how long it will take
  • Where appropriate, ask the complainant to send a written account by post or by email so that the complaint is recorded in the complainant’s own words.

Resolving supporter complaints: our process

Stage one

In many cases, a complaint is best resolved by the person responsible for the issue being complained about. If the complaint has been received by that person, they may be able to resolve it swiftly and should do so if possible and appropriate.

Whether or not the complaint has been resolved, the complaint information should be passed to the Director of Fundraising & Communications within two days.

On receiving the complaint, the Director of Fundraising & Communications records it in the complaints log. If it has not already been resolved, they delegate an appropriate person to investigate it and to take appropriate action.

If the complaint relates to a specific person, they should be informed and given a fair opportunity to respond. If misconduct is alleged, an investigation will be carried out in accordance with our investigation policy.

Complaints should be acknowledged by the person handling the complaint within a week. The acknowledgement should say who is dealing with the complaint and when the person complaining can expect a reply. A copy of this complaints procedure should be attached.

Ideally complainants should receive a definitive reply within two weeks. If this is not possible because for example, an investigation has not been fully completed, a progress report should be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given.

Whether the complaint is justified or not, the reply to the complainant should describe the action taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint.

Stage two

If the complainant feels that the problem has not been satisfactorily resolved at Stage One, they can request that the complaint is reviewed at a more senior level. At this stage, the complaint will be passed to the Chief Executive.

The request for a review by the Chief Executive should be acknowledged within a week of receiving it. The acknowledgement should say who will deal with the case and when the complainant can expect a reply.

The Chief Executive may investigate the facts of the case themselves or delegate another member of the leadership team to do so. This may involve reviewing the paperwork of the case and speaking with the person who dealt with the complaint at Stage One.

If the complaint relates to a specific person, they should be informed and given a further opportunity to respond.

The person who dealt with the original complaint at Stage One should be kept informed of what is happening.

Ideally complainants should receive a definitive reply within two weeks. If this is not possible because for example, an investigation has not been fully completed, a progress report should be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given.

Whether the complaint is upheld or not, the reply to the complainant should describe the action taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint.

The decision taken at this stage is final, unless the Board decides it is appropriate to seek external assistance with resolution.

If the complainant reaches the end of Porchlight’s complaints process and isn’t satisfied with the outcome, they should be encouraged to contact the Fundraising Regulator and Charity Commission.

External stage

The complainant can complain to Fundraising Regulator, or the Charity Commission, at any stage of the process. Variation of the Complaints Procedure

This may be necessary to avoid a conflict of interest, for example, a complaint about the Director of Fundraising & Communications should not also have the Director of Fundraising & Communications as the person leading a review.