charity commission logoAs we approach the general election in December, it’s a good time to refresh your understanding of the Do’s and Don’ts around the campaigning and political activities that your charity undertakes to make sure you comply with the law, and maintain your political impartiality.

Campaigning and political activity can be legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake. However, charities must comply with the law. During an election period, the need for impartiality and balance is intensified, and charities must take particular care when undertaking any activities in the political arena.

The Charity Commission uses the terms:

  • ‘political activity’ to refer to activity by a charity which is aimed at securing, or opposing, any change in the law or in the policy or decisions of central government, local authorities or other public bodies, whether in this country or abroad
  • ‘campaigning’ to refer to awareness-raising and efforts to educate or involve the public by mobilising their support on a particular issue, or to influence or change public attitudes

The guiding principle of charity law in terms of elections is that charities must be, and be seen to be, independent from party politics.

Charities must ensure that they are able both to retain the essential quality of independence and use their voice effectively at election times; but there are a number of ways in which a charity may be at risk of becoming embroiled in party politics, albeit unintentionally.

The Charity Commission has a range of excellent guidance available to help you ensure you comply with the law.

For further please use the links below, and if you’re unsure of any activity you’re undertaken over the next couple of months, don’t forget SCVS Development Team will be happy to try and help. You can reach them on 01792 544000 or by emailing: [email protected] / [email protected]

Charity Commission ‘Charities, Elections and Referendums Guidance’ (2017)

Charity Commission ‘Campaigning and political issues arising in the run-up to the 2017 General Election’ (2017)

Charity Commission ‘Campaigning and political activity guidance for charities’ (2008)