Charities risk losing their status if politically active

IN THE lead-up to the federal election, charitable organisations around the country have been reminded they could lose that status if they advocate for or against a political party.

The warning came in the form of new guidelines on political advocacy that were released this week by the Australian Charity and Not-for-Profit Commission.

While most charities do not engage in political advocacy, some in sectors such as environment, health and law do. The guidelines remind them such activity needs to be based on policy, not politics.

The guidelines said charities could engage in advocacy if it helped them achieve their "charitable purpose", including promoting or opposing "a change to any matter of law, policy or practice".

But the rules warned against activity the commission would consider a "disqualifying purpose", including engaging or promoting illegal activity and "promoting or opposing a political party or candidate for political office".