Charities should put representing the needs and desires of their beneficiaries on Brexit above any personal opinions about whether the UK should leave the EU, according to the chief executive of the Charity Finance Group.
Caron Bradshaw told yesterday’s CFG annual conference that there had been a slight improvement recently in charities making their voices heard on Brexit.
But she said charities were not necessarily speaking on behalf of the public and were instead showcasing personal opinions.
"I think while the voices we are now starting to hear around the sector are getting louder, I don’t think they’re necessarily thinking from the perspective of their beneficiaries," Bradshaw said.
"The sector is largely seen as being a remain-minded one. But I think if we become vocal from the perspective of what we personally want, as opposed to what specifically and objectively is in the interests of our beneficiaries, then we will be doing them a disservice.
"We will also be doing ourselves a disservice, because we will end up not engaging with them to understand their challenges."
Although some organisations that had backed a particular Brexit outcome might be correct, Bradshaw said, that decision had to be "driven entirely by our beneficiaries’ needs, wants and desires, not necessarily by our own political views".
Charities should also "engage properly" with communities and "get our eyes out of the paperwork on Brexit", she said.
Bradshaw called for the charity sector to make sure its voice was heard on the Shared Prosperity Fund that will replace EU funding mechanisms, but said she was concerned that charities were not having enough influence on negotiations.
Campbell Robb, outgoing chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, told the session "there should be more partnerships" to deal with problems arising from Brexit.
Charities needed to put their own interests aside in a time of social and economic distress, Robb said, and help address a huge problem "with dislocation from the economy and dislocation from politics" in the UK.
Robb will become chief executive of the social justice charity Nacro in July.