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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Guidance aims to help charities follow the law in the run up to the election

Guidance from the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland aims to support charities in staying on the right side of the law in the run up to the July 4 General Election.

In highlighting the guidance to the public this week, Chief Charity Commissioner Gerry Mc Gurdy, noted that charities in Northern Ireland often have strong links within their local communities.

“With those deep community roots, charities can play a valuable role in informing elected representatives about their diverse causes and services,” he said. “However, it is equally important that charities don’t do anything that undermines their independence and neutrality when it comes to party politics.”

With the General Election set to take place in just a few weeks, Mr McCurdy has encouraged charities to consult the Commission’s Political activity and campaigning guidance, particularly if they engage politically, to help ensure they follow the law in this area.

As the guidance details, charities should avoid:

  • supporting or opposing a political party or politician, verbally or financially
  • endorsing a political party based on one policy position
  • participating in or running events to which all candidates or parties have not been invited
  • sharing party political social media posts using official charity social media channels, or too closely echoing the language or slogans employed by political parties
  • 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.

Mr McCurdy continued: “The guiding principle of charity law in terms of campaigning, political activity and elections is that charities should be, and be seen to be, independent of party politics. This means that charities are forbidden from aligning with any political party or attacking another.

“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.”

To help charities understand how they can fulfil their role in the upcoming election the Commission has produced Political activity and campaigning guidance for charities. A thematic report: Charities and political campaigning - staying compliant, which shares lessons for charities from other elections, is also available.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland works closely with the Electoral Commission, which also offers guidance on Non-party campaigners UK Parliamentary general elections.


For more information, please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission Communications Officer, via 

Notes to editors

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.