Freedom to Campaign: Introduction

Campaigning can change the world.

Charities have a legitimate and valuable role to play in making that change happen because they occupy a unique position in civil society between their beneficiaries and policy makers.

They are well placed to spot the unintended consequences of proposed changes to legislation and able to highlight the gaps that risk leaving sections of our society behind.

However, charity campaigners are being held back.  According to research undertaken by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation charities are campaigning less than they used to since the Lobbying Act was introduced.

The Lobbying Act has had ‘a chilling effect’ on charities ability to speak out.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales acknowledges that whilst charities must be independent from party politics they must still be able to use their voice effectively at election times.

Charities need to campaign. Our guide will help you to do that – even during a regulated election period.  This is a set time when the rules on spending apply and this differs depending on which election is being held.

You can check the regulated period for elections taking place each year, at local, regional and national levels, on the Electoral Commission’s website.

This guide aims to:

  • Let charities know what they CAN do within the rule of the Lobbying Act so they continue to raise the profile of issues that matter to their beneficiaries
  • Empower charities so they feel confident about developing punchy campaigns and putting pressure on politicians
  • Reassure trustees and managers so they feel comfortable making decisions about their campaigns and making public commentary about changes in political party policy

Next page: At a glance

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