An alert for the upcoming elections and political advocacy
The basic principle for charities to observe is that a charity cannot engage in a disqualifying purpose. These are defined to include “promoting or opposing a political party or a candidate for political office”.
There are many examples given in the ACNC’s interpretation statement on this topic, but our conservative view of some activities that would and would not qualify as “political advocacy” include:
- Permitted: individual donations to particular political parties by members or employees, volunteers or supporters
- Permitted: individual participation (without identifying the charity as a protester) in a demonstration or a protest relating to a particular law
- Permitted: publishing balanced information concerning how different policies of all the political parties will affect a particular issue.
- Not permitted: issuing one-sided communications to promote or criticise a particular politician or political party.
- Not permitted: engaging in lobbying for a cause that is unrelated to the core business of the charity.
- Not permitted: engaging in lobbying for its own sake such that it becomes a purpose and not just an activity ancillary.
- Not permitted: leasing premises to a particular political party.
- Not permitted: sending a donation from the charity to a political party
In making donations to political parties, entities must also comply with the disclosure requirements, mandated by various statutes.