How can NGOs lobby effectively to impact political agenda?

March 2015 | The Guardian

After the UK became the first country in the G7 to adopt the long-standing UN target to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, the chancellor was in high spirits.

“We should all take pride in this historic moment for the country,” said George Osborne as he delivered his budget statement to MPs.

The government’s spending commitment took years of lobbying from charities such as Christian Aid and Oxfam among others as well as campaign groups like the One Campaign and the Bond group of NGOs. In an age of countless e-petitions, publicity campaigns and street protests, it was a rare example of politicians and NGO staff working together to achieve a common objective.

But how can NGOs lobby governments effectively? How do you get access to decision-makers? What’s the most effective way to contact politicians? How do you persuade MPs to take up your cause? How do you pester an MP without irritating them?

And what about the dangers of getting too close to power? Does collaborating with politicians lead to an inevitable loss of effectiveness?

With just over a month to go before the UK general election, join a team of experts to discuss how NGOs can get their ideas onto the political agenda on Thursday 2 April, 1-3pm BST.

The live chat is not video or audio-enabled but will take place in the comments section (below). Get in touch via or@GuardianGDPon Twitter to recommend someone for our expert panel. Follow the discussion using the hashtag #globaldevlive.


Tom Baker, head of campaigns and engagement, Bond, London, UK@mrtombaker @bondngo 
Bond were one of the organisations which lobbied for the UK government to adopt the UN commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid.

Shimon Cohen, chair and founder, thePR Office, London, UK@scohen_shimon @ThePROffice
Shimon has 30 years of lobbying experience with faith groups, extractive industries, real estate, planning, transport and infrastructure.

David Hulme, professor of development studies, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK@BrooksPoverty
David’s research focuses on rural development and relationship between states, NGOs and donors across South Asia and Africa.

Clare Moody, Labour MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, Brussels, Belgium@ClareMoodyMEP
Clare is a member of the European Parliament’s budget committee, the industry, trade, research and energy committee, and the committee on women’s rights and gender equality.

Charlie Matthews, parliamentary adviser, Sightsavers, Brighton, UK@CharlieMTweets @Sightsavers_Pol

Charlie has international development lobbying experience from Sightsavers, Save the Children UK and the Institute of Development Studies.

Simon Starling, head of policy & campaigns, Concern, London, UK @concernuk 
Simon has over 18 years experience in international development policy and practice with Oxfam, Save the Children and International Alert.

Murray Hunter, organiser on secrecy and surveillance, Right2Know campaign, Cape Town, South Africa @muzhunter @r2kcampaign
Murray is a spokesperson and campaigner on secrecy and security issues for the Right2Know Campaign in South Africa.

Phil Parvin, senior lecturer in politics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK 
Phil is a senior lecturer in politics at Loughborough University, a former Director at the Hansard Society, and author of numerous books and articles on British politics.

Germana Canzi, freelance policy and campaigns analyst,
 London, UK@germanacanzi
Germana is a freelance writer and consultant. Specialising in energy and sustainable development policy at UK, EU and global level.


on Date, advocacy officer, ActionAid UK, London, UK @Jon_Date
Jon leads on the day-to-day engagement with parliamentarians for ActionAid UK.

Shireen Irani, founder and executive director, iProbono, London, UK @iProbono
Shireen is the founder of iProbono, enabling civil society organisations and activists around the world to access justice.

Martyn Williams, parliamentary campaigner, Energy Bill Revolution, London, UK@MartynWilliams2

Martyn has been campaigning on social and green issues in Parliament for 20 years. He led the campaign for the Climate Change Act.

Nicola Banks, ESRC future research leader, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK @IDPM Manchester

Nicola’s research explores young people’s experiences of urban poverty in Tanzania and the role of NGOs in development. She was previously Head of BRAC’s Research and Evaluation Unit in Uganda.

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