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Party conferences of limited use for lobbying, MPs & Peers tell charities

  •  Last year 1 in 4 MPs didn't even bother going, rising to almost 1 in 3 Labour MPs 
  •  "More persuasive to lobby politicians face-to-face in Westminster or at constituency level" says nfpSynergy's Lincoln 

As the party conference season gets underway, only 13% of MPs and 9% of Peers rate attending such gatherings as one of the best ways for charities to influence them, trailing almost every other lobby tactic - according to a poll out today.

Leading not for profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy's Charity Parliamentary Monitor surveyed a representative sample of over 150 MPs (May 2009) and 100 Peers (July 2009) asking them which charity lobby methods they find most persuasive.

Out of a wide range of prompted ploys (see attached slide 2), only the use of "house business" (11%) is deemed by MPs to be less influential than party conferences, whilst Peers (see attached slide 3) rank party conferences bottom out of a similar range of options.

Face-to-face meetings at Westminster are seen as the most influential by MPs (mentioned by over half, 54%) The next three most influential forms of contact are all constituency based - constituency correspondence (39%), constituency events (37%) and constituency business (36%) - followed by Westminster events (33%), Westminster correspondence (27%) and media coverage (19%). Like party conferences, reports/publications are mentioned by just 13% as being influential.

Comparing the forms of contact that MPs say are the most influential with those that MPs claim charities use most frequently (see attached slide 2) highlights a number of underexploited areas: in particular face-to-face meetings at Westminster (54% say influential, just 16% say it is frequently used), constituency events (37% influential, 9% frequent) and constituency business (36% influential, 14% frequent). Conversely, Westminster correspondence and reports/publications appear to be overused by charities - despite their lack of influence.

When asked last year (Nov 2008), a quarter of all MPS (24% - split 30% Labour, 18% Conservative & 13% Lib Dem) said they didn't even bother attending their party conferences (see attached slide 4). Of the MPs who did attend, 1 in 4 (25%) claim to have been unimpressed by any charities that may have been present there - rising to over a third (34%) of conservative MPs, compared to just 17% of Labour MPs (see attached slide 5)

nfpSynergy researcher, Sarah Lincoln, says:

“Many charities assume that campaigning via a costly stand or a fringe meeting at a party conference is an effective way to reach MPs and Peers. However, politicians themselves - a significant proportion of whom don't even bother attending conference or, if they do, are unimpressed by any charities that may be present - say that voluntary organisations would prove far more persuasive lobbying them face-to-face in Westminster, or operating at constituency level.”

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MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: adrian@gillanmedia.com) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy (www.nfpsynergy.net) is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.



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Charity Parliamentary Monitor May/June 2009

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