Charities, the Election and Advocacy

With the 2019 Federal Election just around the corner, it is important for registered charities to familiarise themselves with their obligations regarding political advocacy and campaigning.

Advocacy and campaigning can be legitimate and effective ways of furthering the charitable purposes of a charity. However, there are lines that a charity should not cross.

The ACNC has developed guidance to help charities decide what advocacy they can appropriately undertake and what they should avoid.

In short, it is okay for a charity to:

  • have a purpose of advancing public debate – including promoting or opposing a change in law – where this furthers or aids another charitable purpose.
  • have a purpose to promote or oppose a change to a law, policy or practice in the Commonwealth, a state or territory or another country where this furthers or aids another charitable purpose

However, it is not okay for a charity to:

  • have a purpose to promote or oppose a political party or a candidate for political office.
  • have a purpose to engage in or promote activities that are unlawful.
  • have a purpose to engage in or promote activities that are contrary to public policy (which, in this context, means the rule of law, our constitutional system, the safety of the public or national security).

Charities should also be aware that certain types of expenditure may need to be disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commission, as required by the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth). More information about these requirements is available on the Australian Electoral Commission website at aec.gov.au.

To view the ACNC guidance in full, click here.

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