Elections offer a great opportunity for charities to influence future policy, but also come with some important considerations. Here we share some resources to help ensure your campaigning this year stays within electoral law.
What you need to know
Charity law is clear that charities can campaign during election periods. However, charities must stay independent from party politics and ensure that their campaigns support their purpose.
Sheila McKechnie Foundation has funded charity law experts Bates Wells to produce a guide for charities campaigning during elections.
The key things to note are:
- Charities can never engage in party political activity – such as direct support for a party, politician or candidate
- But charities can carry out campaigns around political issues, including around policies
- Election law does not stop charities from campaigning
- Charities are required to register as ‘non-party campaigners’ with the Electoral Commission if they spend over a certain amount on regulated campaign activities in the 12 months leading up to the general election
- Certain campaign activities are regulated if they can be reasonably regarded to aim to "promote or procure the electoral success of:
- one or more political parties
- political parties or candidates who support or do not support particular policies or
- another particular category of candidates
by influencing voters at an upcoming election to vote in a particular way."
The guide outlines what you need to know in full, and provides steps to take to plan your campaign with confidence. Read it here.
Other guidance resources:
- The Electoral Commission has full guidance for non-party campaigners during elections including spending limits, and what counts as regulated activity
- It has also published case studies of real examples of campaigns during election period, to show how the law works in practice
- The Charity Commission website has some general guidance for charities during elections
Election years are a great opportunity for charities to get their issues on the public agenda.
Lloyds Bank Foundation has some excellent guides on effective campaigning during general elections and local elections.
Encouraging people to vote
Charities have a vital role to play in encouraging people to sign up to vote, and ensuring everybody knows what they need to do on election day. London has among the lowest voter registration rates in the country. Help spread the word ahead of 2024’s elections to ensure as many Londoners as possible can have their voice heard.
Don’t forget your ID
To vote, you now need to show ID. The GLA’s voter registration hub also has everything you need to know about voter ID, as well as assets and materials to increase awareness and a democracy chatbot.