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Updated guidance for charities campaigning on political issues

02 Mar 2021

Elections to the Scottish Parliament will be held on the 6 May 2021.

We are already in the Regulated Period when spending on political campaigns and activities is regulated by the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission rules on campaigning have been modified slightly since OSCR’s 2018 guidance, so we have updated our guidance to reflect this. For example, all election material now requires an ‘imprint’ where previously it was only physical election material.

Under Scottish charity law, your charity can campaign if:

  • it is advancing your charitable purposes
  • your governing document does not prevent the activity
  • you are not advancing a political party and,
  • you can show you are acting in the charity’s best interests.

When considering whether you are acting in a charity’s best interests, this should include the reputational implications of your actions.

While there are restrictions on what campaigning activities a charity can undertake, it is important to note that political campaigning in principle is not forbidden. In fact, political campaigning on particular issues can be an important way for charities to achieve their charitable purposes.

If you do intend to campaign on political issues at any time please read our guidance below so you are aware of the rules.

Read ‘Charities and campaigning on political issues: FAQs’ here.