Public happy for charities to lobby in Westminster

Majority of MPs wary of charities ‘being political’, journalists more neutral

  • More than half (58%) of the public agreed ‘charities should be able to campaign to change laws and government policies relevant to their work’, while only 10% disagreed
  • Just 4% said that a charity’s campaigning to change the law put them off donating, compared with 62% who would be put off by ‘too little money going to the cause’
  • When we asked 157 MPs about what it means to them for a charity to ‘be political’, 78% of Conservative MPs said it was a negative thing
  • 23% of Labour MPs and 38% of Lib Dems also saw it as negative
  • No Conservative MPs saw charities ‘being political’ as positive, while just 16% of Labour MPs and 8% of Lib Dems thought it was
  • 67% of journalists felt that charities being political was a neither negative nor positive, while just 6% were positive and a quarter (24%) were negative about it
  • When asked to choose between two statements, 87% of journalists thought it was ‘fine for charities to spend funds on campaigning if that’s a key part of their purpose’, while 13% said ‘Charities should concentrate their funds on helping their beneficiaries, not on campaigns’

 

More than half of people think that charities should be able to lobby the government to further their cause, a new report suggests. The Politics of Charities, published by research consultancy nfpSynergy, also shows that a charity campaigning to change the law just puts one in 25 people off donating, while MPs and journalists are apparently wary of non-profits becoming political.

The report, based on surveys of 1000 British adults, 157 MPs and 173 journalists, showed that there are mixed feelings on charities in Westminster. Six out of 10 people agreed that ‘charities should be able to campaign to change laws and government policies relevant to their work’, while only 10% were against it. A charity campaigning to change the law puts just 4% of us off giving, compared to the top reason of ‘too little money going to the cause’, which discourages 62%.

The paper, free to download from nfpSynergy’s website, goes on to detail how MPs and journalists were quizzed about what it means to them for a charity to ‘be political’. Conservatives were most wary, with 78% thinking it was a negative thing, a sentiment echoed by 23% of Labour MPs and 38% of Lib Dems. No Conservatives made positive comments about charities being political and just 16% of Labour MPs and 8% of Lib Dems supported were in favour.

The majority (67%) of journalists were neither positive nor negative about whether charities should ‘be political’, with 6% in favour and 24% negative. The media personnel were then asked to pick one of two statements that best fit their view. 87% said it was ‘fine for charities to spend funds on campaigning if that’s a key part of their purpose’, while 13% thought ‘charities should concentrate their funds on helping their beneficiaries, not on campaigns’.

nfpSynergy’s Head of Professional Audiences, Tim Harrison, said:

“Things are getting tense for charities in Westminster. As the Lobbying Bill trundles through Parliament, the nightmare of charities being severely limited in politically representing their beneficiaries threatens to become a reality.

Within this context, it is fascinating to see some of the background sentiment to this legislation and to note how wary MPs are of charities being too ‘political’ - a sentiment that is not shared by the public or journalists.”

 

You can download the full report free right here: https://nfpsynergy.net/politicscharities

SOURCE: nfpSynergy’s Charity Parliamentary Monitor, which regularly surveys a representative sample of 157 MPs, June-July 2013 wave. Charity Awareness Monitor, which regularly surveys a representative sample of 1000 16+ year olds throughout mainland Britain, July 2013 wave. Journalists’ Attitudes and Awareness Monitor, which regularly surveys a sample of journalists throughout mainland Britain from a range of media outlets, including online, print and television. We spoke to 173 journalists in October and November 2013.

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Note to editors:

nfpSynergy is a research consultancy that aims to provide the ideas, the insights and the information to help non-profits thrive.

We have over a decade of experience working exclusively with charities, helping them develop evidence-based strategies and get the best for their beneficiaries. The organisations we work with represent all sizes and areas of work and include one in three of the top 100 fundraising charities in the UK.

We run cost effective, syndicated tracking surveys of stakeholder attitudes towards charities and non-profit organisations. The audiences we reach include the general public, young people, journalists, politicians and health professionals. We also work with charities on bespoke projects, providing quantitative, qualitative and desk research services.

In addition, we work to benefit the wider sector by creating and distributing regular free reports, presentations and research on the issues that charities face. 

 

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