Double font size
Dark contrast
ADHD friendly
Large cursor

How to get your charity’s voice heard in the run up to a general election

A date has been set. There will be a general election in the UK on 4 July.
Clare Lydon

Clare Lydon

3 minute read
June 11, 2024
A date has been set. There will be a general election in the UK on 4 July.
How to get your charity’s voice heard in the run up to a general election Image

All the political parties are busy setting out their stalls on things like tax, the NHS and defence - hoping to convince people to vote for them come election day.

But what about the other issues that really matter to people? Issues like child poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse. Who is advocating for these?

Well, that’s where you come in.

It’s well known that charities play an important role in advocating for policy change. And general elections are a great time to get your voice heard. There’s a real opportunity to capitalise on the heightened public interest in important issues to get your cause on the political agenda and into the public consciousness.

We’ve pulled together some of the best examples we’ve seen, along with some ideas on how to get your voice heard in the run up to the general election...


Charity Commission rules

We know that some charities are concerned about the potential risks of political campaigning. There are both legal and reputational risks when taking a prominent role in what can be divisive and politicised debates.

That’s why it’s important to operate in line with the Charity Commission’s rules on political activity and campaigning.

When it comes to elections, the guiding principle of charity law is that charities must be, and must be seen to be, independent from party politics.

You can engage in politics as a means to advance your charitable cause, but cannot exist as a charity solely to be political. Everything you do must be in the best interests of your charity.

Adeela Warley, CEO of CharityComms (the membership organisation for charity communications professionals) explains it well:

“The election period offers charities an opportunity to speak about their causes and the communities they serve. Charities have a legitimate right to campaign and should do so proudly and boldly, considering guidance and laws that come into play to avoid any issues.”

And there are lots of charities out there doing just what Adeela Warley says – speaking up about their causes and the communities they serve.


Use data to highlight the scale of the issue

Most charities have research that underlines the issue(s) they campaign on. Now is a great time to use that research to really highlight the extent of the problem you seek to solve. Take this example from Action for Children. They’ve presented their data in a way that is meaningful and relevant to politicians – using their language - and included a clear ask of all parties – keeping it impartial (and in line with the Charity Commission’s rules).

Action for Children end of child poverty coalition post



Mobilise your supporters

The run up to a general election is also a great time to mobilise your supporters and ask them to take a specific action to help raise awareness of and further your cause with all political parties.

Shelter were ahead of the pack on this. Even before the election was announced they were inviting their supporters to use their new online tool to identify how many people in their area are homeless and email this information to their Parliamentary candidates - amplifying their voice and pushing their cause up the political agenda from the ground up.

Shelter campaign tool post

Refuge is also taking action by asking their supporters to sign an open letter to the next Prime Minister (whomever they may be) to help make sure they prioritise tackling violence against women and girls.


Publish your own manifesto

Refuge have also published a manifesto calling for a comprehensive approach to support survivors of domestic abuse and tackle violence against women and girls - centred around three key principles.

Refuge general election manifesto post

Being clear about what you need from policymakers is an excellent way of making it easier for them to support your cause.

The Trussell Trust have taken a similar approach – setting out a series of actions the government must take to help eradicate food poverty in the UK.

Trussell Trust manifesto post

You can see their full manifesto here.


Galvanise a community

Shelter believe that a lack of social homes is driving the housing emergency. So ahead of this general election they’ve launched a campaign #MadeInSocialHousing to galvanise support for the need for more social homes by sharing personal stories and celebrating people who’ve lived in social housing.

The strategy behind the campaign is to use well known members of the social housing community to mobilise others in that community to share their own stories – amplifying their voice and creating a groundswell of support for their cause.

Shelter social homes post

Shelter made in social housing image

Their Head of Marketing has written an interesting article about the campaign.

You may choose to try and mobilise the political community by asking politicians to sign a pledge related to your cause e.g. to support a climate initiative. This is a useful approach for grassroots charities advocating to spur change at local, national or international levels.



Ask the audience

Other charities are taking the opportunity to reflect on what’s important to their supporters, so they can position themselves for success in the next Parliament.

Samaritans are using this time to survey their supporters to understand what policy issues are most important to them and what motivates them to support the charity. The findings from this research will inform their campaigning efforts after the election.


Advice and guidance

There is lots of guidance around to help you manage your communications effectively in the run up to a general election.

This government guidance contains advice to help charities:

  • retain the essential quality of independence; and
  • use their voice effectively at election times.

And CharityComms have pulled together some resources to help charities navigate communications during the pre-election period.


This is a critical moment to speak up for the cause you serve.

We’re currently working with charities to help them do just this.

If you’d like any help with getting your voice heard, please do get in touch.