3 in 4 MPs think charities campaign better than companies

3 in 4 MPs think charities campaign better than companies

14 May 2008
  • MPs love charitable constituency focus, face-to-face briefings - and media opportunities! 
  • MPs hate mass mailings - or being bored!
  • “Be more targeted and personal,” think tank advises

Three quarters (76%) of all MPs agree agree that “in general, charities are more effective at campaigning amongst MPs than companies”; a quarter (24%) agreeing “strongly” - according to figures out today (see attached summary slides). This point of view holds firm across all main political parties – spearheaded by Lib Dems (92% agreement), followed by Conservatives (77% agreement), then Labour (76% agreement); and dipping to 40% agreement amongst “other parties”. 

Leading not for profit sector think tank and research consultancy nfpSynergy’s latest Charity Parliamentary Monitor surveyed a representative sample of 160 MPs, asking how they rated the relative effectiveness of charities and companies when it come to campaigning; and inviting them to comment on strengths and weaknesses of their respective approaches. The following tips summarise MPs’ own comments.

  1. Trust you start from a good position since MPs are sympathetic to your cause – They are more open to meeting charities than companies, hearing about your campaigns and supporting your work. 
  2. Highlight your constituency work and local focus – A campaign with a constituency angle is more likely to win an MP’s ear and support. 
  3. Develop strong relationships with key MPs – MPs say face-to-face meetings, regular briefings and follow-ups are effective ways of gaining their attention; and that charities trump companies in this area. 
  4. Offer the right kind of information in the right kind of forum – MPs value the focused research briefings many charities provide; and appreciate meetings with media opportunities. 
  5. Don’t bore – MPs dislike generic campaigning; large, unfocused parliamentary receptions; mass postcard mailings; and a general lack of understanding of MPs and their work. 
  6. Don’t waste resources – Avoid mass mailings and parliamentary receptions that lack a specific campaign objective, plus any other ineffective campaigning tactics that could be wasting donors’ money. 
  7. Learn from companies (where possible) – Companies are often more selective; and better at targeting specific relevant MPs, than charities. 

nfpSynergy researcher, Gemma Tracey, said:

“Charities should be encouraged. These findings indicate significant respect and goodwill from MPs towards their campaigning efforts, when compared with corporate approaches. MPs say they particularly appreciate discerning and well-prepared face-to-face meetings, ideally with a local, constituency focus and potential media spin-off; but they dislike unselective scattergun tactics that waste valuable and often scarce resources. Voluntary organizations should nurture and harness MPs’ positive charitable outlook and endeavour to increasingly woo them with targeted and personal methods.” 

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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.