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Key Campaigning Considerations for Charities Ahead of the General Election

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The UK general election is set for the 4th July 2024, presenting an important period for charities to consider how political developments may impact their causes. Within the Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector, many organisations are actively sharing their insights and expertise. Given the critical role charities play in advocating for societal issues, it is essential that they do so within a framework that ensures neutrality and compliance with legal guidelines.  

Charities must adhere to the principle of being politically neutral. This means avoiding any direct or indirect support for, or opposition to, political parties or candidates. While it is acceptable to campaign on issues aligned with your charity’s objectives, it is crucial to focus on the issues rather than the party’s involved. For instance, if your charity's mission involves alleviating poverty, it can advocate for policies that support this cause, but should not explicitly endorse or criticise a specific party’s approach. This helps in maintaining public trust and the charity’s focus on its mission. Here are key considerations and practical steps for charities to navigate this period effectively: 

Communications and Messaging 

Charities can effectively engage with the political process without compromising their neutrality. Here are a few ways in which they can do this: 

  • Advocate for policies that align with your charity’s mission. Prepare well-researched policy briefs and share these with all political parties to ensure your issues are considered in their manifestos. 
  • Raise awareness and educate the public about issues related to your cause through public forums, leaflets, and social media campaigns. Highlight issues rather than political parties. Use data and evidence to support your advocacy and focus on how proposed policies affect the communities you serve. 
  • Maintain a respectful tone in all communications. Avoid personal attacks on politicians or parties, and instead, focus on constructive discussions about policy impacts. 
  • Utilise social media responsibly. Ensure that posts and interactions remain neutral and focused on issues. Monitor social media channels to prevent any content you don’t like from being associated with your charity. 

 

Compliance and Governance 

Compliance with legal requirements is critical. Trustees and charity leaders should ensure all activities are in line with the charity's objectives and legal framework: 

  • Regularly review the Charity Commission's detailed guidance on political activity and ensure all actions comply. 
  • Update internal policies to reflect the latest legal requirements and guidance on political activities. Ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of these policies. 
  • Maintain transparency in all activities. Document decisions regarding political activities and be prepared to explain how these activities support your charity’s mission. 

 

By following these practices, charities can effectively use social media to promote their causes while staying neutral and respected. This approach protects the charity’s integrity and enhances its ability to engage with a wide audience on important issues. For more guidance, see advice on engaging in public debate.