Guidance for charities on pre-election rules

Charity Commission publishes updated advice

(Immediate Release - 26 January 2010)





The Charity Commission is today publishing updated guidance for charities on complying with the law before local and national elections. The guidance, Charities and Elections, is for use by trustees during the period between the announcement of an election and the date on which the election is held.

The updates to the guidance include advice from the Commission on how charities should approach engagement with minority parties. Charities undertaking political activity are not required to engage with representatives from every party on the political spectrum, but any express decision not to engage with a particular party must be based solely on the interests of the charity. In addition, the guidance clarifies the position of charities with regard to the Electoral Commission*. Other areas covered by the guidance include contact with electoral candidates, use of charity facilities by candidates and publicity about policy issues.

Andrew Hind, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said:

“Charities’ independence is vital to society and valued highly by the public. They must always remain politically independent, but trustees should be particularly aware of this during the election period. Charities have an important role to play in the discussion and debate that takes place at this time but they can become involved, or perceived as being involved, in party politics unintentionally. Our practical guidance contains clear legal and good practice advice to help charities ensure that they retain the essential quality of their independence whilst being able to use their voice effectively at election time.”

Charities and Elections has been updated with input from the sector and the collaboration of the Electoral Commission. It should be read in conjunction with the Charity Commission’s campaigning guidance, Speaking Out: Guidance on campaigning and political activities by charities (CC9).


For further information please contact the press office

PR 03/10

Notes to Editors

1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See for further information or call our contact centre on 0845 300 0218.

2. Our mission is: to ensure charities’ legal compliance, enhance charities’ accountability, encourage charities’ effectiveness and impact and to promote the public interest in charity.

3. The Charity Commission’s guidance, Speaking Out: Guidance on campaigning and political activities by charities (CC9), can be found at

4. * Electoral law also has rules about activity that may be seen as election related campaigning by all organisations, including charities. Therefore, even if a charity is following the guidelines set out in this guidance and in Speaking Out, if it uses material that could be seen as indicating to the public that particular candidates or parties support or oppose the charity’s policies, it is possible that it may need to register as a third party with the Electoral Commission. This will depend on how the charity is planning to campaign and how much it is spending. The Electoral Commission’s guidance on the rules affecting non-party campaigners is on its website - - and it is happy to give advice on particular cases.  The Electoral Commission press office can be contacted on 0207 271 0704

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