What happens when you handover a campaign postcard?

A while ago, one of my colleagues got to speak to a former ministerial Special Advisor (SPAD) to find out what really happens to all those campaign postcards we send to a government department.

My experience from running the Campaign Totals project over the last few years indicates that every department does things slightly differently, but here are five useful reflections from that conversation;

1. All correspondence goes to the correspondence unit. There’s no mechanism to make anyone outside the unit aware of it. However SPADs and Ministers can enquire about what the public’s writing in about, and SPADs in particular are likely to make sure they do as a good way to keep in touch.

2. Ministers will sign and read replies to letters or emails from MPs, and usually from directors of NGOs (sometimes from other senior staff) and will also read the incoming correspondence at the same time. That’s the only correspondence they’ll usually see.

3. The department may choose to post a reply to a public campaign on its website, usually if a SPAD says they should. That’s a good way to see what they think is worth taking notice of.

4. It works well for an NGO CEO to write to a minister to say how many campaign messages they’ve received and say what they’re asking the minister to do.

5. Hand-ins are a very good way to get a minister’s attention, if something is personally handed over to them. They’re more likely to agree if they think the photo will get good media coverage, and if there’s a celebrity involved, or someone who is seen as a celebrity by a particular audience. A hand-in with no minister present won’t come to a minister’s attention (unless you got media coverage for it).

What other insights do readers of the blog have about how to ensure your campaign postcards get noticed after a handover? 

Campaign Totals 2012 – DFID

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 172,207

Number of postcards/letters/petitions: 159,913
Number of emails: 12,294
Biggest campaign: CAFOD – Thirst for Change – 60,477 actions

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2010 to 2012;

Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

View the spreadsheet in google docs here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned in July 2012 and has been sorted by number of actions received and is presented as it was received from DFID. 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 2012 – Department of Education

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 3,957

Number of letters: 1,042
Number of emails: 2,915
Biggest campaign: People and Planet – Climate Change in the National Curriculum – 1,930 actions

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2010 to 2012;

Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile
View the spreadsheet in google docs here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 26 May 2011 and is presented as it was received from Department of Education.

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 2012 – Number 10

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 525,000

Number of postcards/petitions: 447,700
Number of emails: 49,900

Biggest campaign: Southern Daily Echo – Have a Heart campaign – 240,300

NB – Number 10 we’re keen to stress that the figures they held were averages to the nearest 100.

Breakdowns by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2010 to 2012;

Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on June 202 and is adapted from information provided by Number 10. The spreadsheets of information can be downloaded for No 10 here.

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 2012 – HM Treasury

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012:

Number of postcards/letters: 51,068
Number of emails: 34,485
Number of signatures on a petition: 517,617

Biggest campaign: National Association of Master Bakers (with The Sun) – VAT on savoury products – 500,720 signatures

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2011 and 2012;


Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here.

Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 8 June 2012 and is adapted 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 2012 – DECC

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 158,484

Biggest campaign: Friends of the Earth – Stop the Big Energy Companies Taking us for a Ride – 37,578 postcards

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2011 and 2012;

Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here.

Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 8 June 2012 and is adapted from a list of information provided by Department of Energy and Climate Change.

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 2012 – DEFRA

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 123,220 (down 40%)

Number of postcards/letters: 35,196 (down 62% from 92,310 in 2011)
Number of emails: 88,024 (down 19% from 109,495 in 2011)
Biggest campaign: AVAAZ – Fishing Opportunities – Submission to public consultation on fishing opportunities –  30,975 (all via email)

Breakdown by campaign:

Scorecard based on figures from 2011 and 2012;

Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

View the spreadsheet in google docs here. Information from Freedom of Information requested received on 31 May 2012, and is presented as received from DEFRA. 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)