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Campaigning & advocacy

Supporting civil society leaders to have the freedom and confidence to campaign.

Recently, our sector has faced several attacks on its freedom to campaign and advocate on behalf of its beneficiaries. Charities must be allowed and encouraged to campaign in order to further their charitable objectives. Civil Society leaders should have the confidence and freedom to campaign to meet their organisations’ charitable objectives no matter who the organisation receives funding from at whatever point in the election cycle.

Charity leaders must feel safe in undertaking their legal obligation on behalf of the people and causes they support and the emphasis on the independence of the Charity Commission is very welcome.  We join with the chair of the Commission in welcoming charity political activity and campaigning as posing a solution to many of today’s challenges.

Our recent activities in this area:

In October 2022, as part of the Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting, Orlando Fraser, the Charity Commission chair, made a speech introducing a new short guide on political activity and campaigning for trustees.  The guidance is based on CC9 and is part of the series of ‘5 minute guides’, which seek to make the longer form guidance more accessible. 

In August 2023, we published a statement about the then Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s comments following Care4Calais inquiry. We reiterated what is laid out clearly within regulation – campaigning and political activity can be “legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake” and it is a legal requirement that political campaigning or political activity must be undertaken by a charity only in the context of supporting the delivery of its charitable purposes.

In September 2023, we published a joint statement to the editor of The Telegraph once again highlighting that campaigning and political activity are legitimate and robust public discourse is a marker of a healthy, effective and vibrant body politic.

The Electoral Commission Non-Party Campaigner Code is now in effect. Electoral law requires charities to register as non-party campaigners (NPCs) if they spend over a certain amount on regulated campaign activities in the 12 months leading up to the next election. The law also requires an imprint to be included on digital material that falls within the definition of regulated campaign activities. The Charity Commission and the Electoral Commission issued a joint blog for charities engaging in public debate, which highlights that the law is clear about the right of charities to campaign.

We can assume we are now in the regulated period. We have published a joint briefing offering some guidance. Do note it should not be taken as legal advice.

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