Half of charities unclear on Lobbying Act election restrictions

Less than one in five charities and not-for-profits understand the restrictions imposed on campaigning during the General Election.

The new figures compiled by marketing social enterprise Campaign Collective and Sapio Research reveal that a quarter of charities (23%) plan to campaign on issues during the General Election.

But the rules imposed on all organisations by the Lobbying Act during the election are not understood.

18% of organisations claim they completely understand the rules, 37% somewhat understand and just under half (44%) not really or not at all appreciating the restrictions that apply.

Over half (52%) of charities, not-for-profits and social enterprises believe the 2017 UK General Election will be important to their organisation, but less than a quarter (22%) felt prepared for the Election.

Simon Francis, Founder Member of Campaign Collective and Co-Chair of the PRCA Charity and Not-for-Profit Group commented:

The Lobbying Act election restrictions apply to all organisations, charity or corporate.

It is highly concerning that so few organisations are aware of the restrictions that apply during this period, especially in light of the fines recently handed out to two charities by the Electoral Commission. Criticisms around the lack of communication to groups about the law revealed in reports into the last election clearly have not been fully addressed.

While advice to charities and campaigners on the General Election is to resist being silenced by the Lobbying Act, they can’t ignore the rules.

If organisations – private and charity alike – spend more than £20,000 in England or £10,000 in the rest of the UK on regulated activities, they must register with the Electoral Commission as non-party campaigners or risk breaking the law.

Advice for charities and campaigners on the General Election was published by Campaign Collective last week.

Jane Hales, Founding Partner of Sapio Research, added:

Given that less than a quarter of charities felt prepared for the General Election but so many are planning on campaigning on the run up to it, its questionable how well they’ll be using their internal resources. It’s also worth noting that just 6% intend to use external resources to boost campaigning so there’s going to be considerable pressure on organisations to deliver.

Sapio Research conducted the online survey among 67 charities and not-for-profits between Friday 21st April and Tuesday 25th April 2017.

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