Charities and politics

Can charities run political campaigns?

Charities can and do campaign for politicians to do things. In fact, sometimes campaigning for something might be the most effective way of the charity fulfilling its purposes.

Charities are able to support specific policies. A health charity, for example, might campaign to improve certain aspects of healthcare. So, charities can run campaigns that are political in nature, because they’re calling for specific policies, but they can’t exist solely for political campaigning, and crucially, they mustn’t ever be party political.

So this means while they can say ‘We think people with cancer would be better served by more local specialist care’, they can’t say, ‘We think you should vote Conservative because the Conservatives want to do this’.

There are extensive rules set down by the Charity Commission on the detail of how charities can campaign. A charity’s campaigns have to be in line with the things it is established for.

Charities are allowed to campaign using emotive or controversial material, but it always has to be factually accurate with a legitimate evidence base.