Representatives of a charity involved in political activities on their own time

  • Representatives of a charity, such as employees, directors, members, or volunteers, may be involved with an election, political campaign, or any other political activity in their own capacity as individuals, whether during an election period or not.

  • However, the charity’s resources (for example, office space, supplies, phone, photocopier, computer, publications) must never be used to support that individual’s personal political activities.

  • The Canada Revenue Agency suggests that charities consider developing a policy and/or guideline to make sure that there is a clear and explicit understanding regarding the use of a charity’s resources for political activities. Such a policy or guideline would address the distinction between a representative’s personal political activities and a charity’s political activities.

  • Representatives of a charity can publicly voice their views on political issues, but must not use events or functions organized by a charity, the charity’s publications, or any of the charity’s other resources as a platform to voice their political views.

  • In situations outside charity functions and publications, representatives of a charity, particularly leaders, who want to speak and/or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to indicate that their comments are personal rather than the views of the charity.

  • This is particularly important in the case of social media, where it may be difficult to tell whether a representative’s messages represent his or her personal views, or a charity’s political activities.

Example
A director of a charity is attending a political party’s national convention as a supporter of that party.

Although the director can participate as an individual and supporter, she must not use any of the charity’s resources to attend the convention, such as by having the charity pay or reimburse her for airfare or accommodations. She must also be careful not to present herself as officially or unofficially representing the charity at the convention, or use her position with the charity to suggest that the charity endorses a candidate or political party.

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