At the beginning of this year, we asked MPs to think about their favourite charities and what categories they fell into. Here are 3 things we learnt:
1. Cancer, children and animals are MPs’ favourite causes
We found that ‘Cancer’ was the top favourite cause, chosen by 43% of MPs, followed by ‘Children and young people’ (39%) and ‘Animals’ (38%) (see Chart 1). These three causes are also the top three favoured by the general public.1 ‘Cancer’ was considered a favourite cause by a similar proportion of Conservative MPs (38%) and Labour MPs (46%) (Chart 2).
Interestingly, the same can’t be said for ‘Children and young people’, as Labour MPs are twice as likely to choose this as a favourite cause (61%) than Conservative MPs (29%). Conservative MPs favour ‘Children and young people’ at a similar level to the general public (26%), indicating that perhaps Labour MPs’ are extraordinarily in favour of this cause. We have also seen from our research that, on the whole, children and young people related campaigns have much higher levels of support among Labour MPs.
Chart 1: MPs’ favourite causes
“When you think about your favourite charities, which category do they fall into?” Multiple response question
Base: 100 MPs | Source: Charity Parliamentary Monitor, Nov 2020 - Jan 2021, nfpSynergy
Chart 2: MPs’ favourite causes by party
“When you think about your favourite charities, which category do they fall into?” Multiple response question Ranked by Total
Base: 56 Conservative and 31 Labour MPs among 100 MPs | Source: Charity Parliamentary Monitor, Nov 2020 - Jan 2021, nfpSynergy
2. Animals are Conservative MPs’ top favourite cause
The increase in ‘Animals’ being chosen as a favourite cause by MPs seems partly driven by Conservative MPs, as it has become their most favoured cause. The number of Conservative MPs selecting animals as their favourite cause has shot up from 23% in 2018 to 45% in 2021 – just edging out the previous top favourite cause for Conservatives, ‘UK Armed Forces’. Conservative MPs are even more likely to favour animals as a charity cause than both Labour MPs and the general public (28%).2 So, if you’re an animal charity, this may be an opportunistic time to get your foot in the door and speak to Conservative MPs about your issues.
3. Stark differences between Conservative and Labour MPs remain for some causes
Certain causes may simply always be more popular among Conservative or Labour MPs. ‘Children and young people’, ‘Homelessness and social welfare’, ‘Disability’, and ‘Human rights’ are all favoured more by Labour MPs. On the other hand, around three times more Conservative MPs than Labour MPs said ‘UK Armed forces’ were among their favourite causes.
You might be concerned that your charity cause is not as favoured by MPs. But fear not, as many charities and causes are successful despite not being MPs’ perceived favourites. For example, this past year alone, the government announced commitments to social welfare and there were several wins for homeless charities despite ‘Homelessness and social welfare’ being a favourite cause for only 21% of MPs. Although being a favourite cause can give you a head start, we also found individual charities doing well with MPs even though their cause was not as favoured. Overall, we’ve seen that well executed engagement and campaigning with MPs can be much more influential in gathering support.
1 Source: Charity Awareness Monitor, Sept 21, nfpSynergy | Base: 1,000 adults 16+, Britain
2 Source: Charity Awareness Monitor, Sept 21, nfpSynergy | Base: 1,000 adults 16+, Britain