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Charity Insight Contributor
Published 15 September 2011

Do you have any advice/top tips to share that are not covered within the

above questions?

Chloe Stables, Parliamentary officer, National Council for Voluntary Organisations

  1. Put your case simply and be clear about your preferred outcomes.
  2. Know the counter arguments and what your response to them is.
  3. Follow up on your discussion and send them relevant documents with a clear reminder of what they said they would do.
  4. Do not forget the House of Lords. They have more influence over legislation than most people realise.
  5. Make friends with the researchers. Respect their knowledge and influence they will often understand a subject in more depth than their respective bosses and will decide who gets priority in the queue for their attention.

George Pascoe-Watson, partner, Portland Communications
Like fundraising, lobbying has professionalised and charities need to ensure that they invest in this area. Competition for air time with MPs, with government officials, and others within the Westminster Village is intense. But while getting attention has become more challenging, new opportunities do exist. Social media makes it easier to get in touch with people, and to get your views heard. And MPs are more open to hearing from charities relevant to their constituents or political interests.

Gus Baldwin, public affairs manager, Macmillan Cancer Support
Most of the campaigning we do at Macmillan is pretty integrated now so we rarely start a campaign just involving traditional public affairs activity. We will start with an issue we want to solve for people affected by cancer and build a core team to solve it involving representatives from, for example, public affairs, public campaigning, policy, digital media, marketing, research, user involvement, services and press. Having established the campaign objectives we will use a range of techniques to shape the environment within which the key decision-makers are deciding on an issue. We're a pretty formidable team when we get it right but we get it wrong some times as well.

Estelle McCartney, associate director, Champollion
Put yourself in the position of the person you are trying to influence. View your campaign or policy ask from their perspective. What might the opportunity be for them? The delivery is as important as the strategy and the creative ideas but is often where a campaign falls down. Make sure you put as much effort into the co-ordination and the delivery as you did in the strategy and planning stages. Be prepared to adapt your strategy and tactics during the campaign to respond to developments. You need a plan but you should also plan for any necessary change.

Joe Saxton, driver of ideas, nfpSynergy
For most small charities it's better to build relationships with ten MPs in some depth, than 50 or 100 MPs superficially. If your documentation is more than a few pages an MP is really unlikely to read it. Short, punchy and powerful documents are always the most effective. In our research 'house' business is usually one of the ways that MPs are least likely to hear about campaigns. And again and again MPs say face-to-face briefings are the most effective.

Camilla Williamson, public affairs adviser, Age UK
One of the best approaches is to build up strong relationships with a few key MPs who can be champions for the cause that you represent. Make sure you meet regularly to keep them briefed on your issues and that you pay close attention to parliamentary and wider government activity to ensure that they can make effective and timely interventions when appropriate. Building up a good group of cross-party supporters is invaluable in achieving representation for your constituents.

Equally, make sure you understand all the decision making processes in parliament and government well. There are a huge number of opportunities for influencing that many people are just not aware of. If you keep up-to-date and know the system, you have a much better chance at effecting change.

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