Charities should be wary of ‘culture wars’ in lead-up to the election, NCVO warns

22 Feb 2024 News

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The upcoming general election will lead to increased scrutiny and a “greater appetite” for culture wars, NCVO has warned charities. 

With this likely to take place on social media, it is important that charities have agreements on how they use the platforms, the umbrella body said in a report published today.

NCVO’s latest Road Ahead report urges charities to consider, therefore, the potential risks of campaigning and advocacy in the lead-up to the general election.

It states that while the election year brings uncertainty it also presents an opportunity for charities to get their causes on the political agenda. 

NCVO predicts in its report that sector income will continue to be squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis and recession in 2024, while charities must navigate other challenges such as artificial intelligence (AI) and social and environmental issues.

Meanwhile, NCVO and fellow membership body ACEVO published free guidance on political campaigning for charities earlier this month.

Sector has ‘big role to play’ in upcoming election 

NCVO writes that the charity sector will play a “big role” in the election year as the sector raises its “collective voice about the issues that matter and the realities facing our communities”.

The report warns that the upcoming election could cause delays in the decision-making and delivery of contracts, so suggests that charities factor this into their plan for the year. 

It says the sector needs “a renewed partnership” with national and local government, greater collaboration between charity sector organisations and an adaptability to meet the technological shifts.

The report advises charities to engage with all political parties in the lead-up to the general election.

While Labour has been ahead in opinion polls since Liz Truss’ premiership in October 2022, NCVO writes that if the party were to win the election, this could make Conservatives the main opposition – making them key for putting pressure on the new government. 

“Whoever wins on election day, we need to work with all parties to make sure the future government will be receptive to the voices of charities and communities in tackling the big issues facing our country, and that charities have a seat at the decision-making table,” it says.

Challenging economic climate

NCVO predicts that high inflation will remain an issue for voluntary organisations as it will increase operating costs and weaken the value of current income. 

A rise in office rental costs is also likely if interest rates do not fall, and rising wages could lead to challenges in recruiting staff, it says. 

At the same time, public fundraising may be challenging due to the cost-of-living crisis. 

The report encourages charities to develop plans and strategies to use AI and anticipates that the climate crisis will mean organisations must continue to adapt their operations. 

CEO: ‘Hope the report will empower charities’

Sarah Vibert, chief executive of NCVO, said: “It will come as no surprise that we’re expecting another year of considerable change and challenge for both our sector and our society. NCVO stands ready to support our sector and this report will help guide our offer.

“We believe charities will have a big role to play in this year of choices, challenges and opportunities, and we expect the resilience and innovation of the voluntary sector to once again shine through in 2024.

“We all want to make the best possible choices based on the information we have, which is what The Road Ahead is all about. Our hope is that this year’s report will help charities to feel empowered to make decisions that enable them to make 2024 the best year possible.”

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