Election Fever: Charities responsibilities surrounding politics

It can’t have passed many people by that we are due to have an election on December 12th which dominates national media. The Charity Commission has taken the opportunity to remind charities of their particular responsibilities in the weeks and days leading up to the election.

It is legitimate and healthy for charities to speak up for the causes they serve, but appearing to take a political position on either side could risk undermining public confidence in a charity and therefore caution must be taken. The Charity Commission provides useful guidance which can serve as a reminder to charities, their trustees and staff.

The guidance stresses that a charity may give its support to specific policies advocated by political parties if it would help achieve its charitable purposes. However, trustees must not allow the charity to be used as a vehicle for the expression of the political views of any individual trustee or staff member.

While campaigning and political activity can be legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake, it is a legal requirement that a charity cannot exist for a political purpose, which is any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party, or securing or opposing a change in the law.

In this political climate a charity must stress its independence and ensure that any involvement it has with political parties are balanced. A charity must not give support or funding to a political party, nor to a candidate or politician.

The run up to the election and discussion around policies is undoubtably going to be interesting and we will be watching to see how these might impact businesses and charities over the next term of parliament.

For more information on campaigning and political activity please click here.