The NCVO will this week publish a guide to how voluntary organisations can use the Freedom of Information Act for campaigning at both local and national levels.
Voicing Your Right to Know: a guide to using the Freedom of Information Act in campaigning was written after a report co-published by the NCVO in 2005 found that the act was under-used by charities as a campaign weapon, often because they didn't know how to use it.
The guide, which will go on the NCVO website tomorrow, cites examples of how voluntary groups have used the act. For example, the Campaign for Clean Air in London used it to obtain figures on premature deaths in London caused by exposure to dangerous airborne particles.
"The act can be used for research purposes to develop the content of a campaign and to help extend a campaign's reach," said Philip Hadley, the research projects officer at the NCVO and author of the guide.
"In the current uncertain political and economic climate, FoI can have a hugely transformative effect on a campaign," he said. "It can tip the balance between success or failure."