Nine out of 10 voluntary sector workers tell researchers campaigning is under threat
Hostile media coverage and government pressure are directly affecting the ability of charities to campaign on important issues.
Research carried out by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) found that 90% of charity professionals feel that the campaigning by the voluntary sector is under threat.
The top reason given by those who were surveyed was that negative media coverage is having an impact - with 65% of respondents saying so.
Charity leaders need to calmly and confidently challenge this view
Set up to support new and inexperienced campaigners, and to champion the right to campaign, SMK, carried out the survey following a number of negative stories regarding the sector appearing in the media, particularly in England.
However researchers also found that issues such as the UK government proposing limits to how charities and others can use government funding, has had an effect on charities attitudes to campaigning.
It found that 53% of charity workers felt senior managers and trustees had become more cautious about campaigning while a similar amount said that campaigning had become seen as too risky.
Around nine out of 10 of those surveyed said they believe that the sector should be free to campaign, and needs to do more, not less.
SMK chief executive Sue Tibballs said moves by the government and guidance given out by the Charity Commission in England and Wales, which questioned the rationale for charities to campaign on EU referendum was “wrong headed”.
She added: “Charity leaders need to calmly and confidently challenge this view, and champion campaigning both publicly and within their own organisations.
“Campaigning on behalf of vulnerable and marginal groups and individuals is central to what charities are for.”