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General election guidance for Locality members

Practical top tips, tools and templates for community organisations to make the most of the general election while complying with charity and electoral law.

Now is the time to engage with your politicians so we can build thriving neighbourhoods together.

Together we can kick start a community power revolution and change how politics works in this country.

 
Watch our film Let's kickstart a community power revolution!

Utilise your power

We want community organisations to embrace the power the general election gives them to influence local politicians and national parties. It's time to showcase your impact, explain your community's needs, and tell politicians how they can help you build thriving neighbourhoods.

With over 100 MPs standing down at the 2024 general election it is a great time to start relationships with new candidates, as well as candidates standing again. Political parties and candidates will want your help to reach their potential voters and constituents. Don't give this away for free. In return you can tell them what changes you want to see.

Your campaigning activity will help you achieve more for your community, but it is also vital to help us influence politicians and the next government. Speaking to your candidates about Locality's Manifesto will help us kickstart a community power revolution.

Following the guidelines below will help you build lasting relationships and comply with charity and electoral law on campaigning.

Community organisations play a vital role in this election - solutions to the big challenges we face are growing from the ground up. It’s time for our policy systems to actively support community power.

Tony Armstrong
Chief Executive, Locality

Charity and electoral law during the general election

All charities must follow charity law on political campaigning and electoral law. This is even more important during the general election period. While charity law is intended for charities, it may be helpful to all community organisations to support good governance. All community organisations need to comply with electoral law.

To follow charity law, you must be politically impartial and balanced at all times. You must not support a specific party or try to influence voters how to vote, otherwise your activities may fall into 'regulated campaign activities' under electoral law.

You can read the charity law guidance on campaigning and political activity here - Campaigning and political activity guidance for charities

You can read the electoral law guidance here - Non-party campaigners: UK Parliamentary general elections

Build relationships with your candidates

  • 1) Find your candidates and their contact details

    Candidates may contact you to visit or engage with your community.

    Make sure they know your impact, your community's needs, and tell them how they can help you build thriving neighbourhoods.

    You can find a full list of your local candidates at whocanivotefor.co.uk. This often has candidate's contact details, or you can search online.

    If you are in a marginal seat (a seat more likely to change political party), candidates will be keen to engage with you.

    Check if your seat is marginal by entering your postcode on electoralcalculus.co.uk/newseatlookup and look at the chance of winning.

  • 2) Email candidates to introduce your charity and invite them to visit

    This is your opportunity to introduce your organisation as a vital part of your community and build a lasting relationship with candidates. Let them know what your community needs to thrive.

    New candidates might not know who you are and will be looking for ways to connect with potential voters in your community. It is also good to contact MPs standing for re-election, as they will want to show they understand the needs of their community.

    Unless you have a good reason not to, email all candidates to be politically independent and balanced.

    Invite them to visit your organisation so you have a greater opportunity to tell them what you do and how you can work together. You could host a tour of your activities and create a photo opportunity of them with your community to use in the press and social media.

    You could host a hustings with two or more candidates on relevant issues to your charity. The Electoral Commission has advice on complying with electoral law when hosting a hustings electoralcommission.org.uk/are-you-holding-a-hustings.

    When you talk to your community about a candidate's visit or the hustings, make sure you say you have invited all candidates, even if all candidates don't attend. To follow charity law, your community must know you are not supporting the candidates visiting you.

    Email templates

    Locality have created some email templates to save you time:

  • 3) Engage with the candidate at their visit

    Make sure your charity and the candidate benefit from the visit. Don't let them leave without listening to your community's needs, your impact and how you can work together in the future.

    Prepare

    • Create a clear agenda for the visit and share it with the candidate and your colleagues in advance.
    • Agree on how to promote the visit in advance so you can post about it quickly once it has happened. Get the candidate's social media details and make sure they have yours.
    • Show your impact, passion and knowledge. Ensure the visit takes place at a time the candidate can see your activities and speak to participants where appropriate.
    • Try to set time aside for a quiet/private conversation about your community's needs and ask about the candidate's policies.
    • Know what you want to achieve from the conversation and prepare your questions and evidence in advance. This includes local needs, and promoting national asks such as those in Locality's Manifesto (we've created a one-page version you can give to your candidate).
    • Try to get the candidate to commit to a follow up conversation or event after the election.
    • Plan the photo opportunity. Choose a place that will showcase your work. Make sure you get relevant permissions from anyone in the photo.
    • Let Locality know so we can help you prepare and promote your visits. Email members@locality.org.uk

    After the visit

    • Make a note of the candidates' answers to questions and what they were interested in so you can follow up in future emails and invitations.
    • Email and thank them for their visit. Remind them of how you can work together. Ask them to join your mailing list or follow you on social media.
    • Share any social media posts or local newspaper articles about their visits.
    • If the candidate wins, congratulate them via email, remind them of their successful visit with you, update them about any new services or impact and invite them to engage with you again.
  • 4) Tell your community about the visit

    Tell your community about the visit and what the candidate said they would do on your social media, your newsletters, website etc.

    • Send a press release about the visit or event to your local newspapers highlighting key parts of your discussion (as agreed with the candidate).
    • Tell Locality so we can promote it to a wider audience and show your candidates you are part of a national network. Let us know via
      • email members@locality.org.uk
      • social posts using #PowerOfCommunity and tagging @localitynews (X/ Twitter) @localityUK (Facebook) @locality (LinkedIn).

    While you can support individual policies and issues, make it clear that you don’t support the candidate or their party. Make sure you understand charity and electoral law.

Engage your community

Now is a great time to engage your community to vote and amplify your calls to the candidates and political parties.

Encourage your community to vote

  • Who are their candidates - tell them to use whocanivotefor.co.uk and enter their postcode to find their candidates along with their polling station address and opening times.
  • Register to vote - tell them they must be registered to vote. The deadline is 11:59pm on 18 June 2024 using gov.uk/register-to-vote
  • Voter ID – tell your community what photo IDs can be used and how to get a free voter ID document called a Voter Authority Certificate by Wednesday 26 June. See electoralcommission.org.uk/voting-and-elections/voter-id
  • Postal votes - those unable to get to the polling station can apply for a postal vote by 5pm on 19 June 2024 using gov.uk/apply-postal-vote

Tell them about the relevant issues and what policies could help

Use your social media channels, website and newsletters to share information about issues and policies. Ensure you remain politically impartial and balanced at all times, and you do not try to influence voters on how to vote. Find out more about charity and electoral law here.

Locality can help you

  • Use this guidance to help you make the most out of the general election period.
  • Use the Locality Manifesto: Building Thriving Neighbourhoods to speak to candidates about what their party needs to do nationally to create a community power revolution.
  • We can help you prepare to get the most out of your meetings with candidates. Email members@locality.org.uk.
  • Locality can like, share and repost your social posts if you use #PowerOfCommunity and tag @localitynews (X/ Twitter) @localityUK (Facebook) @locality (LinkedIn) to get more people to see it and show the candidates you have national support.

Be part of the national debate

We're campaigning for five big reforms to inspire a community power revolution as part of our Locality Manifesto 'Building Thriving Neighbourhoods'. These include reforming commissioning, boosting community ownership, and a new Community Power Act so communities can buy assets, shape public services and control local investment. Read more at: locality.org.uk/locality-manifesto

We're also supporting:

Click on the links above to find out more, join and share these campaigns.