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Charities Regulator launches guidance on charities and the promotion of political causes

05 February 2018 Press Releases Publications

The Charities Regulator today launched a practical guide for the trustees of Irish charities, highlighting the rules which apply to their organisations when engaging in activities to promote a political cause.

“Irish charities play an important role in Irish society through their political activity, bringing attention to important issues, providing a voice for the voiceless and the vulnerable, and helping to shape public policy across a broad range of issues,” Charities Regulator Chief Executive John Farrelly said.

The new guidance document aims to highlight the specific conditions which apply to registered charities when they are engaging in activities to promote a political cause. A charity may engage in activities to promote a political cause provided that the promotion of this cause:

  • relates directly to the advancement of the charity’s charitable purpose;
  • does not promote a political party or candidate;
  • is not contrary to the charity’s governing document.

The document contains a number of examples to show how charities can promote political causes as part of their work to advance their charitable purpose. It also provides examples of how charities could be in breach of their legal obligations by engaging in certain political activities.

“We hope this guidance will assist those charities involved in promoting political causes to continue doing so, while remaining in compliance with the law,” Mr Farrelly said. “But we would urge the charity trustees of all registered charities to take a few minutes to study the guidance so they can assess the kinds of activities that may, or may not, be permissible if undertaken by their charity.”

The Charities Act 2009 specifically excludes certain bodies from being registered charities. These include organisations which are: a political party; a body that promotes a political party or candidate; or a body that promotes a political cause that does not relate directly to the advancement of the body’s charitable purpose.

The ‘Guidance on Charities and the Promotion of Political Causes’ document is available on the Charities Regulator’s website.

This guide is latest in a suite of guidance documents produced by the Charities Regulator to encourage and facilitate the better administration and management of charities. Other documents available on the Charities Regulator’s website are: Guidance for Charity Trustees; Internal Financial Controls Guidelines for Charities; and Guidelines for Charitable Organisations Fundraising from the Public and What is a Charity?. Further guidance documents will be published during 2018.

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