Quakers in Britain received £28,000 of donations for activities regulated by the lobbying act in the run-up to the general election, making it the only charity so far to declare any such donations to the Electoral Commission.
Under the lobbying act, charities, campaign groups and other organisations must register with the Electoral Commission if their spending on particular "regulated activities" in a pre-election period exceeds certain levels. It created a list of activities that is significantly broader than under previous legislation and lowered the overall spending permissible by registered organisations on those activities.
Registered non-party campaigners must submit regular reports of any donations of more than £7,500 given to spend on regulated campaigning activity, and the Electoral Commission this week published the last of its pre-poll reports detailing such donations.
In total, 12 charities have registered with the Electoral Commission. They are: Arthritis Research UK, the British Institute of Human Rights, Global Dialogue, Hope Not Hate Educational, Heart UK, the League Against Cruel Sports, the National Union of Students, Quakers in Britain, the RSPCA (through a specially created campaigning vehicle), the Salvation Army, Stonewall and the Woodland Trust.
The other 57 registered non-party campaigners include non-charitable organisations such Amnesty International UK, the campaigning platform 38 Degrees, the Forces Pension Society, which has a charitable arm, businesses, trade unions and private individuals.
The only charity to declare any regulated donations was the religious charity Quakers in Britain, which received £20,000 from the Lewes Quaker Meeting on 19 December, and donations of £3,000 and £5,000 on 5 May from the Aylesbury Quaker Meeting. Neither of these local groups is a registered charity.
Jessica Metheringham, parliamentary engagement officer at the Quakers in Britain, said these donations supported the secondment of staff, in roles known as peacemakers, into "grass-roots organisations that address the underlying causes of injustice and conflict".
She said: "In making the judgement as to whether this falls under the lobbying act, we concluded that, on average, about a quarter of their work would pass both the purposes and the public test."
No other regulated donations to charities were reported, but they might have taken place because charities that registered later in the regulated period would not have been able to submit this information before registering. In this case, regulated donations would be reported in the overall expenditure reports that all non-party campaigners must submit. The deadlines are 7 August for spending of less than £250,000 and 7 November for spending above that amount. The Electoral Commission will publish these reports five or six weeks after their submission.
The reports also show that the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which is not a charity, gave a donation of £11,225 to the non-party campaigner Vote for Policies Limited, and that the Political Animal Lobby gave £15,000 to Network for Animals. Both animal rights groups are non-party campaigners and neither of them is a registered charity.