Half of charities unclear on Lobbying Act election restrictions

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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.

Just 18% of organisations say they completely understand the rules, 37% somewhat understand and 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.

At the heart of the Lobbying Act are what’s called the ‘purpose’ and ‘public’ tests. These tests are how organisations can see if activity is covered.

If the purpose of activity “can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against political parties or categories of candidates, including political parties or categories of candidates who support or do not support particular policies or issues” it is covered.

Additionally, specific tactics might also be covered by the ‘public’ test if the activity is “also aimed at, [can be] seen or heard by, or involve the public.”

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.”

For more information visit www.campaigncollective.org



Contact: Simon Francis, 07738487259, simon.francis@campaigncollective.org

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

Campaign Collective is a social enterprise helping charities, social enterprises, public service organisations and other campaigners benefit from affordable professional communications advice and support.

Profits from Campaign Collective are used to subsidise support for micro charities and community organisations as well as help develop the next generation of communications professionals.

Sapio Research is an independent global market research and insights consultancy that helps clients better understand their audiences and markets. Its business is based on partnership principles inspired by social enterprise. Sapio Research has particular expertise in working with marketing services agencies and non-for-profic and is methodology agnostic. Contact: Jane Hales, 07976 555 108, jane.hales@sapioresearch.com