NCVO's Tips on Good Practice in Campaigning is based on evaluations of 35 campaigns over the past decade by international NGOs and smaller voluntary organisations.
Chris Stalker, head of campaigning effectiveness at the NCVO, said that there were pockets of good practice in campaigning in the sector, but too many organisations were still not evaluating their campaigns.
"Trustees want to see visible campaigning, such as parliamentary receptions and stunts, and might be less sure about investing resources into things that are unseen, such as evaluation," he said.
"Visible tactics, although traditionally seen as good things to do, might not be the optimum thing to do."
Charities should also draw on their experiences of dealing with beneficiaries to add weight to their arguments, Stalker said.
The Southampton Centre for Independent Living, an organisation run for and by disabled people that makes no distinction between staff and users, was a shining example of effective beneficiary involvement, he said.
"It's important to have mechanisms in place so that you are still able to react quickly if needed," added Stalker. "But it adds credibility with decision makers if beneficiaries are involved."
Other tips in the report include compiling evidence that stands up under scrutiny, being clear about objectives and seeing campaigns through to the end.
The guide also pinpoints potential pitfalls, such as being over-ambitious or setting a target that is too broad.
It refers to an unnamed international NGO that set out to target the "population of the globe" and argues that organisations need to be much more specific than targeting the "general public".
The guide is available free at: www.ncvo-vol.org.uk.
Rules of the game
- Select an issue that fits with your mission
- Use a combination of insider and outsider tactics
- Find and work with useful allies
- Promote a campaigning culture so that everyone in the organisation is behind the campaign
- Confuse access with influence
- Preach to the converted
- Launch a campaign without external rationale
- Focus on promises.