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There's a new guide for how charities can promote political causes without breaking the rules

It describes the limited circumstances when a political cause can be promoted by a charity.

A NEW GUIDE has been launched for how charities can promote political causes without breaking the rules.

The guide, which was launched by the Charities Regulator, says a charity can promote a political cause once the promotion relates directly to the advancement of the charitable purpose of the charity.

It also states this promotion cannot support a political party or candidate and cannot be contrary to the charity’s governing document.

It provides a fictional example of an organised march to Leinster House to encourage more funding for integration programs relating to a charity:

In this scenario, the activities described are permissible as the purpose of the march is to get more funding to promote good community relations, which advances the charity’s charitable purpose.

It further covers how a political speaker can speak at a charitable event if the charity ensures it is promoting the event and not the individual politician.

Providing an example, it also goes into political candidates using charities’ resources – like the use of a charity’s hall or venue for a political speaking event.

If the speaker pays the same for renting the venue like others would, then it’s fine. But if that charity gives the political candidate the hall free-of-charge, then it breaks the rules as that private benefit is not promoting the charity’s purpose.

Chief Executive John Farrelly of the Charities Regulator says:

“We hope this guidance will assist those charities involved in promoting political causes to continue doing so, while remaining in compliance with the law.”
It also reminds readers of the Charities Act 2009, which specifically excludes certain bodies from being registered charities.

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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 legal requirements for a charity are that it must promote a charitable purpose only and that all of its property be made in furtherance of that purpose.

A purpose will not be considered charitable if it does not have a public benefit.

Read: ‘House-to-house donations: Public urged to be wary of unregistered charities’

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