23 March 2018
Earlier this year, the Charity Commission investigated the Family and Childcare Trust after concerns were raised that the charity’s activities on Twitter amounted to party political activity. A Member of Parliament had questioned the charity’s use of two hashtags that were also being used by the Labour Party, as well as the charity’s links with the Labour Party generally. The Charity Commission was concerned that public perceptions of the charity’s independence could have been adversely affected by its social media activity.
The charity’s trustees were able to confirm that they took seriously the need to maintain neutrality and independence. Further, the charity explained that it had used the Twitter hashtags to join a conversation that was relevant to the charity’s purposes and to ensure that the charity’s tweets were seen by a larger audience.
The Charity Commission was therefore satisfied that the charity had adequate procedures in place and was complying with its guidance. However, it noted that it was pleased that the charity planned to establish an audit and risk committee to scrutinise its campaigning and political activities.
The Charity Commission concluded that trustees had to make sure they had adequate oversight over their charity’s campaigning and political activity and be mindful of maintaining their charity’s party political independence. Any political or campaigning activity must be to support the delivery of the charity’s charitable purpose.