NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington will tell 100 delegates at the umbrella body's political conference in Westminster today that charities are inherently political.
"It may be political with a small 'p', and it may be the politics of the most marginalised citizens, but it's politics just the same," he will say.
Etherington will use the conference to defend charities' campaigning and lobbying activities and insist that charities' involvement in the delivery of public services does not threaten their ability to scrutinise government.
The conference comes as the Charity Commission prepares to make its guidelines on charities' participation in political activities less cautionary, as recommended in 2002 by the Government's Strategy Unit.
See Editorial, page 17.