General Election 2024

Read our updates on issues relevant to charities for the upcoming election. Learn more

Saskia Konynenburg

Saskia Konynenburg

Director of Strategic Communications and Insight

Saskia focuses NCVO's brand & communications strategy

Director of Strategic Communications and Insight

Making sense of the local elections and what they mean for charities

Saskia Konynenburg

Saskia Konynenburg

Director of Strategic Communications and Insight

Saskia focuses NCVO's brand & communications strategy

Director of Strategic Communications and Insight

As the results of local elections held on 2 May 2024 unfold, it's evident that political landscapes are shifting.

It was a challenging night for the Conservatives and, as our recent Road Ahead report suggested, there is now an even clearer indication that a general election could see a Labour government take power. There were also notable successes for parties like the Liberal Democrats, The Green Party and Reform UK.

What does this all mean? Political shifts underscore the importance for charities to have a nuanced political strategy that spans across party lines.

If you’re a small charity, developing a good relationship with local leaders is really important whether you want to lobby on behalf of your community, or improve the commissioning landscape.

Five reasons why local government is important to charities

  1. Unlike central government, which is focused on national issues, local government is focused on delivering change at the level of local communities – where the majority of charities operate.
  2. Local government is responsible for a range of frontline services that link to the work of charities, such as social care, education and housing.
  3. Charities often deliver these services in partnership with or on behalf of local government.
  4. Policymakers in local government can find innovative solutions to problems using the insight and experience of charities.
  5. Strong local leadership can inspire residents to support and volunteer for charities.

Building relationships post-election

Local councillors may not enjoy the same level of public recognition as MPs, but they make important decisions in their communities. Here are some tips for how you can build strong relationships with councillors:

  1. Send them a welcome email, outlining what your organisation does and the impact it has locally.
  2. Create a regular update email to your local councillors. You can find their contact details on the council website.
  3. Offer to provide them with research - councillors value charities for their evidence and insight into local issues.
  4. Create opportunities to meet in person by inviting them to visit projects and ask to hold events at your local town, city or county hall.
  5. Ask them to help promote and support campaigns like Volunteers' Week, The Big Help Out, or Small Charity Week.

Campaigning for change

Politicians should value listening to local charities who are the voice of the communities they serve. But in a heightened political environment, many might feel worried about campaigning.

However, the Charity Commission has made clear that, campaigning is a legitimate activity for charities and this remains the case during and after elections.

The law states that charities must be independent of party politics. That means they can’t give their support to, or fund, political parties or candidates. Charities should also make sure they’re seen as politically independent by the public.

We have a host of information that can help you raise your voice:

The local elections may be over, but the work of charities in shaping local communities continues. By understanding the significance of these elections, actively engaging with local authorities, and leveraging available resources, charities can play a proactive role in driving positive change at the grassroots level.

Further resources:

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