Acevo has urged charities campaign boldly during the general election, with the publication of a new report today.
Speaking frankly, acting boldly explains different types of campaigning and it achievements and the current threats to campaigning activity and calls for the sector to shift the conversation away from how much campaigning charities to “work together to refocus, reframe and reclaim charity campaigning”.
The report provides a number of examples of where charity campaigns have positively influenced policy such as the smoking ban and the introduction of seatbelts.
It also says that charity campaigning has come under threat from the Lobbying Act, the funding agreements, political opinion and Charity Commission interventions, specifically the guidance it issued, and then withdrew, on campaigning during the EU referendum last year.
Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “Too often in recent years, legislation and guidance has been issued with little or no consultation with the sector. This, combined with other factors, has led to an undoubted ‘chilling effect’ in the sector. This has been evidenced by many observers ranging from Lord Hodgson to Lord Harries.
“It is now time for charities to dial up the temperature. As the recent House of Lords Select Committee on Charities reported: ‘charities are the eyes, ears and conscience of any society; advocacy is a central part of their work and a sign of a healthy democracy’.
“A timid sector, a cowed sector does not fully serve its beneficiaries or causes. That alone should give leaders the confidence to speak frankly and act boldly. It is understandable that the climate of recent years has damaged the confidence of many but there has never been a better time than now to restate our cases and rediscover our political but non-partisan voice.”
Renew the Compact
The report calls for there to be greater consultation with the sector when it comes to policy proposals which could affect charity campaigning.
It urges the next government to make a renewed commitment to the Compact, the agreement between the government and the voluntary sector.
“By restating her support for charity campaigning, she [Theresa May] could reassure the sector that it is right for them to speak out,” the report said.
It also calls on the Charity Commission to “publicly restate its commitment to the principles and guidance in CC9”.
Acevo also said the government should adopt the recommendations from the Lord Hodgson’s report into the Lobbying Act.