The General Election campaign is now stepping up gears with manifestos published, battle buses fueled up, and the politicians wandering around hyped up, smiling tons and looking for babies to hold. What must charities be aware of before the vote on 8 June? What can and cannot be done without breaking the law?
Here are a few points charities need to be aware of: –
- Charities are allowed to campaign on issues that directly affect the services they provide or the people they support, and these may align to a particular political party. However, charities must remain independent and not be seen as siding with any one party.
- Charities must not attempt to influence public opinion or encourage voters to vote for one candidate/party over another.
- Charities may publish the views of candidates/parties in relation to issues that relate to the charity’s purpose but they cannot encourage support or be designed to influence public opinion.
- If a charity receives funding from local authorities, that funding may be put at risk if the charity publishes any materials that are seen to influence public opinion.
- Charities must not oppose, donate funds to or appear to assist any political party or candidate.
- Charities may invite candidates to public meetings about issues on which the charity is campaigning but should invite candidates from a range of parties to avoid appearing to support one candidate over another.
- Charities must have a very strong reason to not invite a particular candidate/party to public meeting.
- Charities may allow candidates/parties to hire their venue/premises for a political event if done so at the regular rate set by Trustees. They may also refuse candidates/parties to hire a venue if there is a good reason or if it will alienate the charity’s beneficiaries.
- If an employee has personal involvement in political party and is directly linked to a charity’s campaigning it is up to the Trustees to decide if there is a conflict of interest in terms of reputation and legal liability.