War on Want and charity law
War on Want is a registered charity, and its work is governed by charity law. This means that all our activities are designed to serve our charitable purposes, which are as follows:
1. To relieve global poverty, however caused, through working in partnership with people throughout the world.
2. To promote human rights (as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent United Nations and International Labour Organisation conventions and declarations) and, in particular, such human rights which contribute to the relief of global poverty by all or any of the following means: monitoring abuses of human rights, relieving need among the victims of human rights abuse, promoting respect for human rights among individuals and corporations, raising awareness of human rights issues.
3. To advance the education of the public into the causes of poverty and the ways of reducing poverty by conducting research and publishing and disseminating the findings of such research.
War on Want understands the root causes of poverty to be political, the result of choices made by government and corporate elites. Our 65-year history has taught us that collective action by ordinary people is the most effective way to bring about the type of change that can challenge the structures of poverty and injustice in the long term. War on Want has no political purpose, nor do we support any political party over another. All our campaigns, our international programmes and our expenditure are devoted to supporting the charitable purposes given above.
Charities are actively encouraged to engage in campaigning and political activity if trustees believe such activities will help deliver their charity’s charitable purposes. The Charity Commission’s CC9 guidance on this subject makes clear that campaigning and political activity can be “highly effective means of pursuing a charitable purpose, even where the matters at issue are controversial”. Charities are free to devote 100% of their resources to political activity for a specific period if the charity’s trustees believe this will be the best way of supporting the charity’s charitable purposes. The key requirement is that political activity must not become the sole way in which a charity pursues its charitable purposes, or a purpose in its own right.
It should be noted that ‘political activity’ has a specific meaning when it comes to charities. The Charity Commission defines the term as activity “aimed at securing, or opposing, any change in the law or in the policy or decisions of central government, local authorities or other public bodies, whether in this country or abroad”. Action to ensure that an existing law is upheld is understood to be campaigning, not political activity. A charity is free to devote 100% of its resources to campaigning on a permanent basis, if the trustees feel this will support the realisation of the charity’s charitable purposes.
War on Want is fully cognisant of the legal and regulatory framework governing political activity by charities, and complies with Charity Commission guidelines in all its work.