Research shows effective lobbying requires voluntary income

Research shows effective lobbying requires voluntary income

4 Mar 2008
  • Financially independent charities most likely to engage with, and impress, MPs
  • Top 30 MP-impressing UK charities’ average voluntary income is 61%, against 38% sector-wide average
  • Only 5 of Top 30 MP-impressing UK charities have less than the sector-wide average (but still have large voluntary incomes)
  • “Thriving and effectual voluntary sector requires independent income,” vies Saxton

Charities whose voluntary funding has given them significant financial independence from governmental, statutory sources are far more likely to have the confidence to engage with, and impress, MPs - according to new data out today.

Leading not for profit sector think tank and research consultancy nfpSynergy’s latest Charity Parliamentary Monitor surveyed a representative sample of 180 MPs, asking which charities have directly impressed them most in the last six months – and exploring how this impact relates to a charity’s voluntary income - both in absolute terms; and as a proportion of overall income.

Only 5 of the Top 30 UK charities that MPs claim most directly impressed them in the last six months have less than the 38% sector-wide average percentage of voluntary income (as proportion of total income); 70% (ie all but 9) of the Top 30 have at least 50% voluntary income; and the Top 30 average is 61% (again, against the 38% sector-wide average). Moreover, whilst true that absolute (as opposed to percentage/proportional) levels of voluntary income bear little correlation per se to impressing MPs, even those very few Top 30 charities with below-average proportional voluntary income, such as Mencap, Barnardos and RNID, still seem to have significant absolute amounts of voluntary income, by brute virtue of their large size.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said:

“These findings show that – in the current political and regulatory environment, and despite recent Prime Ministerial Compact-related assurances – only charities with significant proportions of non-statutory income feel independent and confident enough to engage with, and thereby impress, MPs. Charities should know that financial independence is the precursor to making you more influential and ultimately effective, not less. An independent, thriving and effectual voluntary sector appears to require independent income. And MPs seem to know, and even value, this as much as any charity.”

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

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy ( 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.