Campaign Totals – Top 15 organisations

In my final post about the Campaigns Totals survey that I’ve been running over the last few months, I’m going to take a look at what the results tell us about the organisations running these campaigns.

I’ve already noted that actions are being generated by a vibrant civil society, and that through my survey actions from 66 organisations were named in the responses, and that excludes the 76 actions that I wasn’t able to identify an organiser for.

The table below shows the top 15 organisations by actions generated, and the only organisations to generate more than 20,000 actions in the 12 months of the survey;

It’s interesting to note that the vast majority of actions are being generated by charities or campaigning organisations, like Greenpeace who because of the way their work is considered aren’t able to take advantage of ‘charitable status’ as opposed to trade associations or other corporate lobbying groups.

With regard to the ‘top’ issues that actions are being generated on;

  1. Sustainable Development  – 57 actions including 25 on Climate Change and other actions on bio-fuels, oil, nuclear and energy policy.
  2. International Development – 54 actions including 11 on debt and other action on aid spending, women’s rights and water/sanitation
  3. Animal Welfare – 14 actions including on issues such as circus animals and battery hens.
  4. Public Services – 12 actions including a number focusing on cuts.
  5. Tax policy – 10 actions
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Campaign Totals – The Results

For the last few months I’ve been publishing the results of Freedom of Information requests that I’ve been making to government departments to discover how many campaign actions they’ve received in the last 12 months.

Now that all* the results are in, what can we learn?

  • A huge amount of campaigning is taking place. Government departments have received at least 946,000 actions in the 12 month period from 1st May 2010 and 1st May 2011. See below for why I’m saying ‘at least’.
  • Actions are being generated by a vibrant civil society. Actions from 66 organisations that were named in the responses, and that excludes the 76 actions that I wasn’t able to identify an organiser for.
  • E-actions lead the way but aren’t as dominant as you’d expect. Government departments reported receiving 400,458 email actions in the 12 month period, compared to 262,886 letters, 97,311 postcards and 39,107 petitions. Although the latter numbers need to be treated with some caution as my sense is that most departments didn’t make much of a distinction between letters, postcards and petitions. We don’t know the source of 147,163 actions.

A top 20? Below are the actions that generated the most responses;

But it’s also important to recognise some of the limitation of the research;

1. It doesn’t include actions to MPs – With a record intake of new MPs into Parliament many campaigning organisations are likely to have been focusing their campaigning energy on MPs. For example, 38 Degrees excellent Save our Forests campaign gathered over 500,000 actions but doesn’t appear in the results. Why? Because they targeted their actions towards MPs.

2. It doesn’t tell us which actions influenced policy – It’s been a fascinating tool to measure which organisations can mobilise significant numbers, but sadly the results don’t tell us which actions changed or influenced government policy. Although I’m working on how to use FoI to discover this.
3. We can’t be certain that the information is comparable between departments – I’ve tested my request with departments for a number of years and I’m confident that I’ve got a request that make sense, but it’s still open to the  interpretation by the Freedom of Information Officer responding to my enquiry. I’d welcome comments from organisations who think their action has been overlooked.
4. Not every department keeps great records – Exhibit A would be the Treasury who told me that they received 268,647 in a 17 month period, but then proceeded to give me a breakdown for 343,711 actions! Exhibit B would be the departments that couldn’t give me detailed figures!  As such I think we can say that the 946,000 action could potentially be even more.

*I’m still waiting for the Ministry of Justice to come back to me. I’ve followed up on a number of occasions and will shortly be referring this to the Information Commissioner.

Campaign Totals – HM Treasury

Unfortunately HM Treasury was unable to provide the information I requested. They were however able to provide me with breakdowns for all of 2010 and up to May 1st 2011.

Total number of actions received in 2010: 230,613
Letters/Postcards: 189,282
Emails: 141,532
Biggest campaign: Bingo Say No to 22% Tax organised by the Bingo Association – 31,853

Total number of actions received to 1st May 2011: 12,897
Letters/Postcards: 10,291
Emails: 2,606
Biggest campaign: Freeze Fuel Duty organised by The Sun – 35,000
These figures don’t appear to have been counted in the total above which would mean that HM Treasury have received  47,897 actions to May 1st 2011.

Breakdown by topic and organisation:
Please note that I have added together all the information provided into one table, with actions taken in 2011 indicated as such. I’ve included information about the organisation behind the action where I can find it, as the Treasury was only able to provide me with the organisations behind 7 of the actions which I’ve indicated in italics.

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 2 June 2011 and is taken from a list of information provided by HM Treasury.

More about the ‘Campaigns Total’ project here. Be first to get the information from other departments by subscribing to the site using the box on the right, adding https://thoughtfulcampaigner.wordpress.com/ to your RSS feed or following me on twitter (@mrtombaker)

Campaign Totals 2011 – By department

Third Sector magazine have covered the Campaign Totals work that I’ve been doing in the latest edition which comes out today. So for those arriving at the blog I’ve complied the responses into one place.

In May, I used Freedom of Information to ask each department;

  1. The total number of campaign letters, postcards and emails that appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign you received from 1st May 2010 to 1st May 2011
  2. The breakdown of these numbers by delivery method (letter, postcard and email).
  3. A breakdown by topic and/or organisation(s) where you received more than 500 items of correspondence (through any delivery method) that appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign in the period defined above.

Below is a list of the departments I’ve had responses from;

Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Education
Department of Energy and Climate Change
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for International Development (and more here)
Department for Transport
Department of Health
Export Credits Guarantee Department
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Treasury – I’m still processing the information but click here and here for a pdf of the response.
Home Office

I’m still waiting for the Ministry of Justice to respond, while the Ministry of Defence said it did not hold this information. The Department for Work and Pensions indicated that it didn’t have any accurate information about the numbers of actions it received.

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Campaign Totals to DEFRA in 2007 & 2008

Back in 2009 I started to use Freedom of Information to find out about the number of campaign actions to a handful of departments that I’d been involved in running campaign actions towards.

DEFRA was one of them and here are the results of the actions they received in 2007 and 2008 as pdfs to view through scribd.com

Total number in 2007 – 108,617 (38,191 emails and 70,426 postcards)

Total number in 2008 – 155,419 (30,429 emails and 124,990 postcards)

I also asked for information for 2005 but they were unable to provide this, and 2006 where I was informed they received 75,000 actions.

Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 9 March 2009 and is taken from a list of information provided by DEFRA.

More about the ‘Campaigns Total’ project for 2010-11 here. Be first to get the information from other departments by subscribing to the site using the box on the right, adding https://thoughtfulcampaigner.wordpress.com/ to your RSS feed or following me on twitter (@mrtombaker)

Campaign Totals – FCO

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2010 and May 1st 2011: 32,731

Unfortunately the FCO was unable to break this down into the format in which they received campaign correspondence.

Biggest campaign: Gaza Flotilla – 17,496

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

If anyone is able to suggest the organisations behind these actions please leave a comment below.

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 27 May 2011 and is taken from a list of information provided by Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

More about the ‘Campaigns Total’ project here. Be first to get the information from other departments by subscribing to the site using the box on the right, adding https://thoughtfulcampaigner.wordpress.com/ to your RSS feed or following me on twitter (@mrtombaker)

Campaign Totals – DCMS

Despite a number of requests, the Department of Culture, Media and Support (DCMS) was unable to provide a breakdown of the campaigns actions it received between May 1st 2010 and May 1st 2011.

They said;
The list of cases you received was drawn from a category of correspondence logged in as ‘fast-track’ cases on our correspondence tracking database. ‘Fast-track’ cases are those where a standardised response can be sent by the DCMS correspondence officer. A large number of these cases form part of public campaigns (which is why it is possible to reply with similar responses once standard lines are available).  In order to draw up the list below, officials took a judgement on which fast-track cases could be said to form part of an organised campaign, and this would generally be clear from similar or identical incoming items of correspondence.

I’ve gone back to DCMS for more information, but below is a list of the campaign

Breakdown by topic:

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 4 July 2011 and is taken from a list of information provided by Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The response went onto explain that ‘we do not notify our minister each time a new campaign is received; instead we give them weekly summaries of the main topics in recent public correspondence and Parliamentary questions (PQs)’

A copy of this for the week of 19 November 2010 is below.

More about the ‘Campaigns Total’ project here. Be first to get the information from other departments by subscribing to the site using the box on the right, adding https://thoughtfulcampaigner.wordpress.com/ to your RSS feed or following me on twitter (@mrtombaker)