Advocacy and Election Campaigns

An Executive Director of a charitable organization recently told me that with a federal election looming , her organization is pulling back from advocacy and communication efforts. While the attention of federal politicians of all stripes is currently focussed on the impending budget and a potential election campaign, advocacy and awareness efforts should not be abandoned. In fact, with an election potentially upon us, organizations should have their election campaign communications strategy ready.

There are limits on third party advertising in election campaigns. Elections Canada ‘s website has more information about spending limits and registering as a third party advertiser. Furthermore, registered charities cannot engage in partisan political activities.  The Policy Statement on Political Activities by the Charities Division of Canada Revenue Agency can be found here.

Despite these limitations, there are activities which are allowable during an election campaign. Questionnaires to candidates is one way to canvass support among the parties for your issue. Inviting candidates to attend events, hosting a local all-candidates forum, and providing your members with questions to ask candidates at the door are just some of the tactics you may wish to include in your plan.

However, like all communication efforts, activities during a campaign should be strategic, focussed and consistent with your organization’s objectives.