Charities and issue-based campaigners have a long and proud tradition of advocacy and campaigning to achieve change and social justice. Campaigning and political activity are part of a robust civil society and contribute to a healthy democracy.  From campaigns on child poverty, refugees, climate change to housing, mental health and medical research -  campaigners and activists have made society a better place.

At Stone King, we are able to help you navigate the law and guidance to give confidence to you and your Board. We can advise on the charity rules including Charity Commission CC9 guidance covering everything from non-political and political campaigning, awareness raising and advocacy to developing hard-hitting material that does not shy away from controversy. We can help you risk assess a campaign, as well as engage with political parties and political representatives, candidates and officials.

When it comes to local, regional or national elections, we advise charities on Charity Commission election guidance as well as election law including putting together a manifesto, non-party campaigning, registering with the Electoral Commission, working with others, controlled expenditure, purpose and public test, donations and financing, as well as working with your committed supporters and members.

We can also advise you on how to navigate the benefits and challenges of social media, including guidance for trustees, employees and volunteers.

Data is often key to issue-based campaigning, whether that relates to donors, supporters and members. Our advice is integrated with our information law and data privacy team, ensuring that your campaign is seamless.

Rosamund McCarthy Etherington, the lead Partner in this area, initiated and acted as the secretariat to the Advisory Group on Campaigning and the Voluntary Sector, with a number of charities including Oxfam, Amnesty International UK, Friends of the Earth and NCVO and ACEVO that led to significant changes in Charity Commission CC9 guidance. Rosamund has also advised charities and issue-based campaigners on many iconic campaigns. She advises at all stages of the political and electoral cycle and has previously advised in the 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019 General Elections, the EU Referendum on the Remain side as well as Mayoral and regional elections.

Tom Murdoch works with charities which put public interest information in the public domain. He acts for a wide range of think tanks, campaigning organisations and charities with substantial media activities. He has contributed to submissions to the DCMS Select Committee, the House of Lords Committee on Communications and the Frances Cairncross Review on the future of journalism. In 2020 he achieved the registration of the Public Interest News Foundation, the first such charity with purposes supporting the community and advancing citizenship.

Stone King has authored a fuller Charity Election Q&A for the Legal Education Foundation.  It also includes Scottish and NI advice from charity lawyers

Please listen to our Webinar on Charity Campaigning in the Lead up to the next UK Parliamentary General Election with Stone King and Joss Saunders, General Counsel of Oxfam.

Useful links:

Q&A: Charity and election law for campaign charities

Coalition campaigning in an election period

Charities should plan campaigning activity for the upcoming general election

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.