Guidance on charity campaigns and political activity

Guidance on charity campaigns and political activity

Ahead of the next general election and in light of recent changes to the law, charities should continue to be confident engaging in political activity.

Update in light of the announcement of the 4 July 2024 general election

In addition to the guide we developed in 2023, which can be found below, we shared further guidance in the context of the general election on 4 July 2024. This note has a focus on organisations which are currently pursuing litigation, and should be read in conjunction with the original guidance linked below, which has not changed.

Key points to be aware of from this note are:

  • Documenting what you are doing and why in the run-up to the election, with a focus on how it falls within your charitable objectives.
  • Paying attention to your communications activities and materials: whether they include a call to action to vote in a particular way, their tone, their context and timing, and how a reasonable person would perceive them.
  • Focusing on the litigation you’re pursuing or the policy you’re campaigning against rather than naming individual politicians, candidates or parties. Refer to ‘the government’ instead.
  • If your organisation has been campaigning or pursuing litigation on a particular issue since before the election was called, not changing your approach in response to the election. Do not ramp up your campaign or stop promoting it – the latter could be seen as assuming the outcome of the election.

For more detailed information, refer to the full note on campaigning and litigation in the lead up to a general election.

Guidance on charity campaigns and political activity

We have developed a guide to help charities campaign in the run-up to an election, which can be found here.

Key points to be aware of are:

  • Ensuring you have relevant policies, such as campaigning and social media policies, in place. These should reflect your charitable objectives and how your organisation will campaign in practice.
  • Carrying out a risk assessment for any campaigning or political activity.
  • Enabling your trustees to familiarise themselves with basic charity and electoral rules around political campaigning (the Charity Commission’s CC9 guidance) so they can approve your campaigning with authority.
  • It is unlikely that charities will need to register with the Electoral Commission. Agree and monitor your campaign expenses (especially when jointly campaigning with any partner organisations) to avoid spending over £10,000 and thus needing to register.
  • If you engage with politicians, make sure this is even-handed and does not give the impression that your charity supports or opposes any particular party or candidate.

For more detailed information, refer to our Summary of Charity and Election Law and Campaigning Political Activity and Election Guide for Charities.

The information above refers to England and Wales. Please refer to our separate guidance on Northern Ireland and Scotland.

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