What would different election results mean for charities?

As we get closer to December 12 we take a look at what different election results would mean for charities

Raabia Fazil | 6th Dec 19
A dog standing next to a poster for a Polling Station symbolising what would different election results mean for charities?

As we inch closer to the decisive election of our polarised times, we have set out to find out what would different election results mean for charities?

In the run up to the big day itself, it’s important to note the guidelines issued to charities regarding campaigning, especially the rules that apply during an election. Here is a refresher on the last election in 2017. Charities should absolutely campaign for and promote the causes they serve. But there could be ramifications for taking a political position, of any kind, as charities are generally trusted to operate without any political allegiance and serve all sorts of people.

Beyond charity law, you are advised to read up on electoral law, too. The Electoral Commission has consulted with charities and published a document including case studies. If your cause has a sensitive element, you may wish to adapt your campaigns. Caution is advised as upsetting or alienating supporters can have real consequences.

> See also: How will the general election affect charities?

What could happen

The outcomes are difficult to accurately predict but we can refer to the statements made by the political parties. On Wednesday evening this week, representatives from five political parties took part in a debate organised by the Charities Aid Foundation and NCVO. Baroness Barran said the Conservatives would increase public spending “in a very major way”.

Vicky Foxcroft MP said charities have “held our society together” and “protected our communities from even further harm”. She said Labour will invest in public services as part of their range of plans. Baroness Barker spoke for the Liberal Democrats. She said the charity sector has to be included in conversations to build stronger communities.

Caroline Russell, of the Green Party, said they would work on climate and social issues. Matthew Patten MEP of the Brexit Party said they would look at funding and work with the Charity Commission. Although Brexit looms large, there positive aspects to consider.

The Lobbying Act is being questioned

Charities have announced that they are being hindered from serving the most vulnerable in society by the Lobbying Act and are calling for it to be revised. Stephanie Draper, the chief executive of Bond, the international development network organisation, said: “Civil society organisations play a critical role in ensuring the voices of the most vulnerable people are heard by policymakers. However, it is getting harder and harder for these organisations to perform this function which means policies are at times being made with little representation from the people most affected.”

Acevo, the charity sector network, have launched an initiative to engage the government. Their #WeImagineBetter campaign aims “to instigate long-term, ambitious and cross-governmental plans that will enable everyone living and working in the UK to have happy and fulfilling lives”.

> See also: General election campaign urges politicians to forge long-term relationships with charities

Although you may have your election based campaigns out there by now, there are still things you can do such as little tweaks or greater changes. Consider how you can address the issues that matter to your cause. National charities should focus on policies affecting their cause and local charities should think about how the parties or candidates in your area could affect your service users.

As the big day rapidly approaches, keep an eye on how the debate is progressing so you can prepare yourself for any likely outcomes. There are bound to be surprises so maybe nominate a key person to team to follow the news. Although there are rules and regulations, you can still campaign and raise awareness. There are real opportunities for significant change and you should definitely take advantage of them. Read up on the rules, make any necessary changes and forge ahead!

A charity leading the way

Mind focus on their cause without taking a political stance. By centring their campaign on their service users, they succeed in raising awareness whilst also adhering to the lobbying rules. They refer to the current situation and have published a manifesto outlining their priorities. It refers to the current provision and how it needs to be updated and revitalised to increase services and help people access the crucial support that they need.