Charity Commission sets out regulatory position on charities campaigning on EU referendum

The Charity Commission has issued regulatory guidance to charities on engagement with the EU referendum.

The regulator said it will be closely monitoring the situation and will take action where the guidance is breached.

The guidance sets out the threshold necessary to justify charitable activity on the referendum. It also makes clear the factors that trustees must consider if a decision is to be made to campaign on the outcome.

The regulator said political activity by charities must always be undertaken in the best interests of the charity, and must only ever be a means to an end and not an end in itself.

Charities need to consider whether political activity on the referendum supports and is incidental to their purposes, and whether any conflicts of interest and other risks are properly managed.

The regulator said charities should consider whether decisions to engage are properly recorded, and whether involvement needs to be registered with the Electoral Commission.

Charity Commission director of legal services Kenneth Dibble said political activity can only be undertaken by a charity in support of its charitable purposes.

“The guidance clearly says that there are reputational risks for charities which engage in political activity on the EU referendum. Trustees must therefore consider the guidance carefully before involving their charities.”

Access the guidance here

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