Complaints procedure

This guidance explains how we handle complaints from customers about our conduct or standards of service.

There are separate procedures to:

We always aim to provide the best service possible. But we know that sometimes, trustees or members of the public may feel we could have acted or behaved differently. When this happens, we want to hear from you and we have a clear process if you wish to complain.

Complaints covered by this policy

The Commission defines a complaint as:

“Any spoken or written dissatisfaction about the standard of service received during engagement with the Commission or our wider regulatory work”

This includes:

  • the way we carry out our statutory objectives, functions and duties as set out in the Charities Act 2011
  • how we conduct ourselves and follow our own procedures
  • how you or others have been treated by our staff

How to complain about our conduct or standards of service

If you wish to complain about our conduct or standard of service, you must do this within three months. If you delay any longer, this could affect our ability to consider your complaint. In some cases, a long delay will mean that we will not be able to consider the matter at all.

We will acknowledge a complaint about our service within 15 calendar days. In most cases, we will aim to respond in full within 30 calendar days.

You need to tell us:

  • what you think went wrong
  • how we should put it right
  • the impact on you

If someone is complaining on your behalf, we need you to tell us in writing that they are acting for you.

Using our complaints form is the quickest way for us to deal with your concern. If you have difficulty using our online complaints form, please call us on 0300 066 9197 where a member of the team will be pleased to help you.

To make sure we comply with the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty, we consider adjustments for people with protected characteristics such as hearing or sight impairments, language difficulties or other specific needs. You can contact us by telephone on 0300 066 9197 or write to us at:

Charity Commission
PO Box 211
L20 7YX

What you can expect from us

The Commission takes complaints about conduct and standards of service seriously.

Our Customer Service Team will deal with your complaint. They will check that we can deal with your complaint, by looking into the issue that you have raised.

They will:

  • treat you with courtesy and respect
  • listen to you, to make sure they understand your complaint
  • explain how we handle complaints
  • gather and evaluate all the information they need before they reach a finding
  • acknowledge your complaint either by telephone or in writing within 14 calendar day
  • explain their findings and recommendations (if any are made) and how they have reached them

If you are not happy with the way that the Customer Service Team have dealt with your complaint, please let us know within 30 calendar days of our response. Our Customer Service Manager will then review the response you received to ensure that:

  • the decision was fair
  • all the issues you complained about were addressed
  • any shortfalls in our service were put right
  • the outcome was explained clearly to you

Our Customer Service Manager will aim to respond to you, by telephone or letter, within 30 calendar days.

External review

If you are still unhappy about the way we have dealt with your complaint, you can ask your MP to refer your concerns to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman for an external review. The Ombudsman independently investigates complaints about government departments, agencies and some public bodies, including the Charity Commission.

Contact details for the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower

Complaints helpline: 0345 015 4033

Textphone (Minicom): 0300 061 4298

Email address:

Unacceptable customer behaviour

‘Unacceptable behaviour’ means acting in a way that is unreasonable, regardless of the level of someone’s stress, frustration or anger. It may involve acts, words or physical gestures that could cause another person distress or discomfort.

We sometimes receive communication that in our view is unacceptable. This might include someone harassing our staff or continuing to contact us about a complaint which has been given a final response. You can read how we deal with unacceptable customer behaviour.

Help us to help you

We take complaints seriously. We want to make sure our complaints process works as well as possible for everyone. We welcome comments or suggestions about how we deal with complaints which can be sent to us by post.

Learning from complaints

We use complaints to improve the service provided to the public. Our senior leaders take an active interest and involvement in all sources of feedback and complaints, identifying opportunities to help improve our services.

Complaints not covered by this policy

This policy does not cover matters that have separate processes including

When you disagree with a decision we have made to use, or not to use our regulatory powers

When we decide whether or not to use our regulatory powers, we recognise that some people may think we have made the wrong decision. This is where our procedures to review decisions come in.

You can help us review our decision effectively by reading our guidance on requesting a review.

External review – applying to the first-tier tribunal (charity)

In some cases, you can apply to the first-tier tribunal for a review of a decision. HM Courts and Tribunals Service manages this process. Schedule 6 of the Charities Act 2011 sets out the types of decisions they deal with and who can request an appeal or apply for a review. You can read further guidance about which decisions we can review and what the tribunal can investigate in Annex A of guidance on requesting a review.

Read further guidance about applying to the first-tier tribunal.

Raising a concern about a charity

You can raise a concern with the Charity Commission if you think a charity is doing something wrong, for example:

  • not doing what it claims to do
  • losing lots of money
  • harming people
  • being used for personal profit or gain
  • involved in illegal activity

For further information, read our guidance on complaints about charities.

You can tell us by using our raising concerns form.

Concerns raised about a charity by someone who works or volunteers for it

These are dealt with under our Whistleblowing policy.

Complain about Freedom of Information (FOI)

When you ask us for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we will review your request and provide you with all of the information we are able to release.

We may not always be able to release all of the information you have asked for. This might be because certain information is exempt from release to the public. We may also be unable to disclose information if it would be too expensive for us to gather the information you are seeking in the form you have requested.

If you are not satisfied with our response and your case isn’t older than 3 months you can ask us to conduct an internal review.

Tell us why you think our decision is wrong and exactly what additional information you would like us to release.