Stephen Cotterill: Fundraisers should piggyback off election excitement

10 Jun 2024 Voices

Electioneering period provides opportunity for fundraisers to piggyback on advocacy to engage donors.


Prime minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to call an election next month provides an opportunity for charities to campaign on behalf of their charities to (hopefully) get some cut-through amid policy pledges and help set the agenda for whoever comes into power. This provides an opportunity for fundraisers to piggyback on wider awareness and advocacy efforts to engage supporters.

In an article published just after the announcement, Charity Commission chair Orlando Fraser said that charity leaders “may see this as a critical moment to speak up for the cause you serve, and that is legitimate and healthy for our country”. However, he warned charities that they must not “be seen to promote a political party or candidate” and encouraged them to avoid using “inflammatory rhetoric”.

This is a familiar trope from the regulator’s leader, and of course, charities have to appear non-partisan, remain true to their charitable objects, and operate within charity law, regardless of political allegiances. Having said that, politicians need to be made aware of the struggles of beneficiaries and their stories to be heard. And who are the best storytellers? Fundraisers of course.

Clare Mills, deputy CEO of Charity Finance Group, said her organisation aimed to help politicians engage with the sector, including through the Civil Society Group of sector bodies. “There is now a real opportunity for us to reach out to candidates and parliamentarians to build positive relationships and find lasting solutions to the many problems the country faces,” she said.

“There will be a huge raft of important and difficult issues for the new government to tackle, from poverty and inequality, to global economic, political and social instability. We will ensure that our advocacy work on issues including the simplification of VAT and gift aid, audit thresholds and the digital markets, competition and consumers bill, remains as impactful as ever.” These are important issues and it is vital they don’t get lost amid the noise of electioneering.

As charities look to push their causes to the forefront, fundraisers can exercise their creative muscles to come up with election-based fundraising campaigns, employ similar advocacy messaging and bring a sense of urgency to the continuing need for support regardless of the election outcome.

@stevejcotterill is the editor of Fundraising Magazine

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