The voluntary sector is in a precarious position of wanting to influence local and national policy and being politically impartial. That is relatively easy when politicians are in place and able to make decisions. To be avoided is the situation where a public funded voluntary sector organisation alienates political leaders who influence how budgets are set and allocated.
Charities, community interest companies, companies limited by guarantee etc, are led, with services delivered, by people who are passionate about their work and cause. Those individuals are vocal about the communities and the people they serve.
Smart leaders will work out a balance between challenging priorities for parliamentary candidates and not showing any bias for political parties. It is ultimately a difficult challenge but the voluntary sector is full of people who have moved mountains for their causes. During a General Election caution is urged. The advice to leaders, management and team members is to have a plan of how to influence in positive manners. It is all too easy to be critical, especially as the run up for the General Election 2019 in the UK has seen established Members of Parliament being highly critical such that offence and hurt have been caused.
Leaders in the sector need to have a plan, communicate with the wider team about the plan. Establish and respect team members’ view, which can be achieved sensitively and without compromising the strategic vision of the organisation. This does not mean anyone has to sell their soul but be sensible.
Brexit is not the only issue that is forefront in the public’s minds. This General Election 2019 is an opportunity to fly the flag for good causes and improve the quality of the lives of the people across the UK. The voluntary sector has the chance to inform the debate on how public priorities should be set and how public funds could be allocated.
Senior management and Board members need to be aware of the rules on campaigning. The Charity Commission website provides guidelines on good practice during elections which is worth looking at to make sure that your organisation is not breaking any rules. During recent times rules have been tightened up on campaigning and knowing the Lobbying Act. It might be that rules are not as restrictive as you might think.
. This is an interesting time. Consider this General Election 2019 as an opportunity to raise awareness about the need for your work.