New Zealand Law Society - Charities reminded of General Election endorsement boundaries

Charities reminded of General Election endorsement boundaries

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With the General Election coming up in September, it is important for registered charities to understand their obligations regarding party endorsement during the election campaign, Charities Services says.

Senior Analysis Andrew Phillips has published guidelines on how registered charities should work alongside recent decisions by the Charities Registration Board when speaking up about issues that are important to them.

While charities can speak up and it's important that they do, what they can’t do is directly support political parties or candidates, he says.

This means charities have to be careful not to associate their activities with a particular political party or candidate.

“The key for a charity is ensuring it continues to advance its charitable purpose. If a charity starts advocating a particular cause as a significant part of its activities, it should consider carefully whether this is charitable,” Mr Phillips says.

With political parties now using a variety of platforms to reach voters, especially social media, it is imperative that registered charities show vigilance when it comes to sharing posts from political parties - even if that party is more aligned to the charitable purpose than the others.

"It may become clear that one party is more favourable to a charitable purpose than another. This is ok – but the charity needs to be clear not to support or endorse the party,” Mr Phillips says.

Further information on the obligations of charities is available on the website.