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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Right wing attacks on "woke" charities have ramped up campaigning, survey finds

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Right wing politicians' attempts to silence charities has backfired

Charities have received more public support on the back of right wing attacks on their right to campaign, a new report has found.

The Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s  annual survey of social campaigning found numerous charities felt more inclined to speak out on contested issues, including race, immigration and the environment, despite attacks they feel are designed to intimidate them into silence.

And some 94% of respondents said there will be a need for more campaigning by civil society organisations in the next year due to the volume of post-Brexit legislative and policy proposals.

Campaigners said they have faced an increasingly hostile political environment – 78% said they felt politicians were hostile to civil society campaigning, up from 63% the previous year.

A majority said attacks by politicians and the media were a threat to charities’ right to speak out and campaign.

Almost two-thirds of respondents said that campaigning had grown more difficult in the previous 12 months.

According to the survey, a lack of capacity was a core reason for the more challenging environment, as well as a reluctance among funders to support campaigning activity.

Commenting on the report, Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, said: “We need to make sure campaigners have the resources and support they need to keep going. Without that support, opportunities are lost, and people’s energy, determination and even hope begin to dissipate.”

She added: “If organisations and donors want to create change that really sticks, they must be willing to fund efforts that shift the system – from the grassroots strength of movement and community-building to the convening and knowledge-gathering power of established charities.”