A free guide for charities to continue to campaign in the face of the “chilling effect” of the Lobbying Act has been launched by communications social enterprise Campaign Collective.
The “Freedom To Campaign Guide” has been launched following the government’s recent rejection of the reforms to the law proposed by the Hodgson Review into the Act.
In addition, the ease in which the Fixed Term Parliaments Act was overturned to call the 2017 General Election and the precarious nature of the political climate has meant that a “regulated period” as defined in the Act could be instigated at any time. The Lobbying Act applies for 12 months before a General Election and is retrospective in nature, so campaigners could be in a regulated period at anytime.
These developments inspired Campaign Collective to create the free guide as part of its social purpose to help small charities campaign more effectively.
According to research undertaken by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, one fifth of charities are campaigning less than they used to since the Lobbying Act was introduced.
Nancy Platts, member of Campaign Collective and co-author of the Guide commented: “As a former parliamentary candidate at two general elections, I saw a marked decrease in the number of small charities and campaigners approach me after the 2010 General Election and once the Lobbying Act was introduced.
The Freedom to Campaign Guide is designed to be a simple, plain English interpretation of more than 104 pages of official guidance which small charities and campaigners could not be expected to wade through.”
Research by Campaign Collective and Sapio Research during the 2017 election found almost half of charity communicators don’t understand the Lobbying Act rules.
Simon Francis, Chair of the Public Relations & Communication Association’s Charity & Not For Profit Group, said: “The PRCA has long been calling for better, easier to understand guidance into what charities can do, rather than lists of what they can’t. It’s encouraging that this Guide has been launched in lieu of easily understandable official guidance.
I hope this Guide gives charities the freedom and confidence to campaign.”
The Freedom to Campaign Guide can be downloaded from https://campaigncollective.org/FreedomToCampaign/