Commission issues warning over social media activity
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has issued a warning following charity social media postings connected to the forthcoming election.
Last month the Commission re-circulated its political activity and campaigning guidance for charities, stating that charities should “do nothing that undermines their independence and neutrality when it comes to party politics”.
Charities should avoid:
- Supporting or opposing a political party or politician, verbally or financially
- Endorsing a political party based on one policy position, therefore endorsing them on all
- Participating in or running events at which a wide political spectrum is not represented
- Sharing party political social media posts using official charity social media channels, or too closely echoing the language or slogans employed by political parties via these channels
- Hiring out venues to political parties at a non-commercial rate
- Allowing charity trustees, staff or members who may also be elected representatives or party activists access to charity assets for non-charity related business.
The Commission’s Head of Compliance and Enquires, Myles McKeown, said: “Despite the Commission reiterating that charities are forbidden from aligning with any political party or attacking another, some social media activity has given the Commission cause for concern. The Commission has contacted charity trustees reminding them of their responsibility to remain independent.
“While many charities engage politicians to communicate their views on policy if they feel it can advance their charitable purpose, there are clear lines that should not be crossed.
“The public rightly perceive the charity sector as independent and issue-focused and charities should do nothing that undermines their independence and neutrality when it comes to party politics.”