Top ten things Charities need to know about Lobbying
1) Under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, anyone lobbying must register and make returns to the Register of Lobbying. There is no exemption to this requirement for charities.
2) A charity with at least one employee, where a paid employee or office holder is communicating with a Designated Public Official (DPO) about a relevant matter, must register and submit returns of lobbying activity.
3) Campaigns targeted at the general public are not lobbying – communication must be made to a DPO.
4) DPOs include city and county councillors, senior council officials, TDs and Senators, Ministers and their advisers, and senior officials in departments/local authorities.
5) All charities may lobby, as long as the lobbying activity adheres to the provisions of the Charities Act. Charities may have to satisfy Revenue and/or the Charities Regulatory Authority that their lobbying activity is in keeping with their primary objectives. Nothing in the Regulation of Lobbying Act changes the requirements of the Charities Act or the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.
6) Grassroots communications - It is the responsibility of the charity which is managing or directing the lobbying activities being carried out by its individual members or supporters to register and submit returns. Only communications made, managed or directed by paid employees or office holders count as lobbying.
7) Emails, phone calls, meetings, casual conversations and even tweets can count as lobbying. Lobbying at a charitable event must also be reported.
8) Registrations and returns must be completed online at www.lobbying.ie, and have to be submitted by set deadlines. Anyone lobbying in February, for example, has until 21 May to register and submit their returns.
9) It is an offence to lobby without registering; to fail to submit a return; or to submit a late return. The Commission may impose fines or prosecute any non-compliance.
Still unsure if you need to register? Contact the Commission’s Lobbying Regulation Unit on 01-6395722 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.