On December 12th, the country will take to the polls for a general election and a surge in campaigning has begun in earnest. However, small charities are being reminded by the Charity Commission of their obligation to remain non-party political, and to maintain the independence of the sector.
This doesn't mean charities shouldn't enter into healthy political debate, but no charity should be seen to support any particular party over another, and any debates should also be neutral, with candidates from different ends of the spectrum equally represented.
Perhaps the single greatest risk for small local charities during the run up to an election is that political candidates may wish to show support for their cause publicly, with media coverage or a photocall. But charities should take care that they don't inadvertently become associated with that figure or party in the public mind.
The Charity Commission guidance states: “Candidates may see a benefit to themselves in being seen to support the charity, but the charity should be careful to ensure that it is not seen as reciprocating that support.”
It's also worth bearing in mind your responsibilities under The Lobbying Act, which applies to charities spending more than £20,000 on campaigning activity. NCVO has more info.