Coalition campaigning reduces risk to groups' reputations

Indira Das-Gupta

Charities are increasingly forming campaigning coalitions because they feel that there is safety in numbers.

This is one of the findings of a paper shortlisted for NCVO's annual research prize, the winner of which will be announced today.

Written by Karen Atkinson, a PhD student from the Charity Law Unit at the Liverpool Law School, the paper is based on interviews with 16 charities engaged in collaborative campaigning.

"According to Charity Commission guidance, any campaigning undertaken by a charity should not put its reputation at risk or prevent the achievement of its objects," Atkinson said. "Working in a coalition reduces that risk."

However, Atkinson added that there were disadvantages to coalitions.

"Some of the larger charities felt the smaller ones are getting a free ride," she said. "For the smaller charities, there's a danger that they will be dominated.

"Having said that, the respondents agreed that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages."

Ian Willmore, public affairs manager for anti-smoking charity Ash, said: "We had much more of an impact working with the Smokefree Action coalition than we would have had on our own. But you have to persuade all the members that you have a common interest and be prepared for them to grab the media attention for themselves sometimes."

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