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charities & campaigning: staying on the right side of the law

By Kevin Russell | 29 July 2014

charities and campaigning

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, it is important that charities that undertake campaigning activities as part of their work are aware of changes in the law that arise from the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act. The new law, which comes into force on 19 September 2014, will apply until the conclusion of the election on 7 May 2015.

 

In many cases, a charity’s campaigning activities will not fall to be regulated. However, charities that may potentially be affected need to know their regulatory position under both charity law and electoral law.

 

Under the Act, a ‘non-party campaigner’ includes an individual or an organisation that campaigns at an election, but is not standing as a political party or candidate. And although charities are primarily regulated by the UK’s charity regulators, spending on certain campaigning may also be regulated by the Electoral Commission depending on how a charity campaigns during the run up to an election.

 

While charities must not be established for political purposes and must never engage in party political activity, there may be circumstances where spending on activities that are in pursuit of their purposes means that they must register with the Electoral Commission as a non-party campaigner.

 

The Electoral Commission, together with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Scottish Charity Regulator and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland have therefore produced a Charities and Campaigning Guide. Its intention is to empower charities to campaign confidently and effectively in the run up to elections while meeting their legal obligations, maintaining their political independence and ensuring that public trust and confidence in charities is maintained.

 

This new guide can be found here

Posted by Kevin Russell

Our Legal Eagle guru and Stewardship's Technical Director, Kevin constantly has his finger on the pulse of all things tax and charity law-related. His briefing papers for charities, churches and individuals are an invaluable resource on everything from VAT to Gift Aid. 

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