The first is the increased need for caution around activity and statements which could have a political dynamic. The second is what changes they can expect from government departments whom they are dealing with.
A general election at once brings live political issues to the fore but at the same time increases the vigilance of the public and the Charity Commission to the prospect of charities becoming inappropriately involved in politics. Indeed after the 2015 general election, the Charity Commission published a report describing complaints made to it and the action it took in respect of political activity.
The rules around campaigning for change are complicated and explained in a lengthy Charity Commission publication called Speaking Out - guidance on campaigning and political activities by charities. There is additional guidance addressing the additional issues and risks at an election time called Charities elections and referendums.
The key message at this time is to take especial care to avoid the implication that the charity is supporting a party or a candidate. Examples the Commission looked into from the 2015 election include:
For charities with live projects in which the Charity Commission, the Privy Council Office, DfE, HEFCE or any other government department are involved, the general election may be disruptive. We would not anticipate great disruption to routine casework involving advice or permissions by the Charity Commission.
However, in the run up to a general election government departments take steps to ensure their impartiality as between political administrations, rules commonly known as Purdah. On 20 April, updated rules for the 2017 general election were published. Discretion is generally observed in decisions where a new incoming government might take a different view:
A general election is a time for charities to be vigilant to manage the risks associated with political activity. Even where a charity's actions are entirely appropriate, there is the risk of dealing with a complaint, involvement of the Charity Commission and the potential for adverse publicity. It is also a time when charities need to be prepared for the impact of civil service impartiality rules, slowing down progress on projects with government.