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Talk to MPs early and often in election run-up, new report urges charities

Regular personal contact and credible campaigns key to getting politicians’ attention and support

It is vital for charities to talk to MPs early, often and about credible campaigns, according to a new report out today. ‘Nine campaign tactics for charities to consider before a General Election’ is written by research consultancy nfpSynergy and urges charities to act quickly and effectively.

The new report, based on nfpSynergy’s interviews with 150 MPs across all parties, lists nine key tactics charities need to consider before the UK goes to the polls next May. It also includes quotes from various backbench MPs and marks the beginning of a year of coverage from nfpSynergy. The key points of the report are:

  1. Talk to MPs early and often in the run-up to a General Election. If you wait until after the manifestos have been written, your chances of influencing policy are greatly diminished.
  2. MPs will only support credible campaigns. You demonstrate your credibility through the quality of your evidence, showing you have the correct expertise to speak on a particular issue, and co-ordinating your message with other organisations in your sector.
  3. Make sure your campaigns are innovative and/or garner a great deal of media attention as these are more likely to get support. 
  4. Invite all candidates to events or meetings your charity runs in their constituency. 
  5. Make briefings you give to MPs relevant to their constituency. This could be done by using local case studies, or including information about services your organisation provides in their constituency.
  6. If you ask your supporters to email or write a postcard to their MP, encourage the writer to personalise the message. The more investment and connection a constituent displays in the campaign, the more likely it is to grab an MP’s attention.
  7. Avoid overly long or complicated briefings.
  8. Avoid showing (or appearing to show) partisan bias.
  9. Avoid failing to respond to feedback or concern from the MPs you reach out to.

The full report is available free at http://nfpsynergy.net/nine-campaign-tactics or from the right hand side of this page.

nfpSynergy’s Head of Professional Audiences, Tim Harrison, said:

“This report tells us that MPs would see the ideal campaign as a coalition of cost-effective, non-partisan charities asking politicians to implement policies that won’t cost anything, but will benefit their constituents.

Whilst it’s important to keep this ideal in mind, there is one thing to take away from this report and it is summarised by a Labour MP echoing the sentiments of dozens more in the run-up to a general election: “All politics is local’”. Charities really must utilise the passion and first-hand experience of their volunteers and beneficiaries as advocates of their campaign. MPs campaigning ahead of an election just cannot ignore them.”



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