Hodgson raises concerns about campaigning by state-funded charities

Hodgson raises concerns about campaigning by state-funded charities

Hodgson raises concerns about campaigning by state-funded charities7

Governance | Vibeka Mair | 11 Oct 2012

Lord Hodgson is expected to raise concerns about the level of campaigning by charities which get a large proportion of their income from the state at an upcoming Public Administration Select Committee meeting.

Hodgson, who was speaking today at the annual Charity Law Association conference in London, said campaigning organisations were starting to push the envelope substantially: “Members of Parliament come to me and complain that charities are getting involved in areas which are the work of MPs.”

Lord Hodgson highlighted a recent proposal in Queensland, Australia, which has suggested that charities which get more than 50 per cent of their income from the state should not be in a position to undertake campaigning.

“This could create a situation where charities are being funded by government to attack the hand that feeds them.”

The Conservative peer also said that the issue of charities campaigning could confuse the public about the charity brand.

Lord Hodgson is due to give evidence before the Public Administration Select Committee next week and it appears he may raise this issue then.

Charity law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite told after the speech that it has already given evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee ahead of its meeting with Lord Hodgson, saying that if the charity is operating within its purpose there should be no limit to campaigning activities.

Mike Wade
Director of Fundraising and Communications
16 Oct 2012

I remember 20 years ago Oxfam was slated for pointing out the links between apartheid and poverty in South Africa, and campaigning against the evils of the apartheid system. Limiting charities' ability to campaign would force them to provide "sticking plaster" solutions only. Sometimes transformational improvements can only be delivered by structural change . And that usually requires clear, assertive campaigning positions, informed by the charity's grassroots work on the ground.

Matthew Sherrington
Strategy Director
The Good Agency
14 Oct 2012

Charities need to stand up for their independence and speak up more for what they think is right for their mission and beneficiaries, and not be treated as sub-contractors. But many charities don't help themselves by building their business model around contracts, positioning themselves as cost-effective and competitive service providers first, rather than as a values and mission-driven voluntary organisation. They take the public funding that gives them true independence for granted at their peril. Modern day charity is about change, not Victorian welfare, and that means also advocating and campaigning for what they think is right for those they serve.

Alistair Heron
12 Oct 2012

The most disturbing element of all this from my perspective is that some MP's seem to feel that, once we've voted them in, participative democracy is a closed shop:

“Members of Parliament come to me and complain that charities are getting involved in areas which are the work of MPs.”

If this is really what you're being told Lord Hodgson, may I respectfully suggest that you put them right.

Sian Balsom
12 Oct 2012

Totally agree with Bates, Wells & Braithwaite and the comments above. Charities are independent bodies that have to put their beneficiaries first. A vital element of that is issues-based campaigning. Hodgson's proposal demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the history and purpose of charities.

Chris Zealley
Charitable Trustee - various
11 Oct 2012

As pointed out above, it is the independent judgement of charity Trustees that is already most at threat from government - wherever state funding is accepted.

If a limitation were to be placed on trustees' right to legitimate campaigning what would be the next limitation ? and the next ?

Carl Allen
12 Oct 2012
Response to [chris zealley]

What next?

Already in progress ... neutering the advances made in whistleblowing, transparency and accountability.

Lynn Cadman
Governance Consultant
Illuminate Governance
11 Oct 2012

Independence - from the State, funders and private interests - is a fundamental principle of charity. A suggestion that it should be compromised by placing a cap on legitimate campaigning fails to recognise this important distinction.

If a Government values the experience and services of a charity enough to fund it, it should also be big enough to listen if that charity disagrees with its policies.


[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear


  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Christian Aid consults staff on redundancies

28 Sep 2016

International development charity Christian Aid is consulting staff on proposed changes to the organisation’s...

Foundations increase grantmaking to £2.7bn

28 Sep 2016

Foundation grantmaking has increased despite pressure on incomes, according to this year’s annual Foundation...

Charities must be central in government’s Brexit strategy, says CAF

26 Sep 2016

Charities must play a crucial role in supporting the government to deliver a Brexit strategy, a new report...

Heritage Lottery Fund launches £10m to improve youth engagement

28 Sep 2016

The Heritage Lottery fund has today launched a £10m pilot programme and is inviting groups of charities...

TSB bank raised double the amount for charity after switch from national to local focus

28 Sep 2016

TSB has raised £1m for local charities, which is double the amount it was raising when it had a single...

Foundations increase grantmaking to £2.7bn

28 Sep 2016

Foundation grantmaking has increased despite pressure on incomes, according to this year’s annual Foundation...

Eduserv agrees £138,000 payment to retiring CEO without telling full board

26 Sep 2016

Eduserv, a charity that provides IT services to the public sector, agreed to pay its retiring chief executive...

Barnardo’s launches ten-year strategy with plans to double fundraising income

22 Sep 2016

Barnardo’s has announced a ten-year strategy which will aim to grow income by a third and change its...

Charities urge donors to give their first plastic £5 note to a good cause

19 Sep 2016

A social media campaign is urging people to donate their first plastic £5 note to charity, after the...

Join the discussion


Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<