Advocacy tips and tricks

Last month we attended the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit at Parliament House, Canberra to better understand government perspectives and priorities and how philanthropy and government can best work together.

Parliamentary Perspectives on Philanthropy – Beyond the Major Parties was a panel session on the first day of the Summit that we thought had lots of practical tips and tricks for advocates looking for guidance on how to engage Members of Parliament in their cause. Rebekha Sharkie MP from the Nick Xenophon Team, Green’s Senator Rachel Siewert and

Independent Cathy McGowan AO MP provided the valuable insights below:


  • Develop a strategy that specifies your relationship with government  – look at Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal as an example
  • Clearly articulate your solution and the steps needed to get there
  • Ensure you have evidence and data to back you
  • Have a clear ask – what are the things government can do to help you?
  • Understand the politics of the issue and how you can help your MP convey your story politically
  • Don’t spend too long on the problem, government is generally aware of the issues
  • Who else thinks like you? Partner with others who share your goals and are after the same outcome
  • Importance of the story – not just the project is working but the narrative of ‘this is what’s good for society.’
  • Find good advocates and invest in them to tell good stories, to be able to talk about the data and help them understand how policy is created. They need to be able to talk to different audiences from community through to government.


  • Ring and make an appointment to see your local MPs
  • Invite them to your AGM to talk about what they are doing
  • Get an invite through your MPs to walk the floor at Parliament House
  • Read MP’s first speech in parliament to understand their focus
  • Follow your MP’s on Twitter
  • Visit backbenchers in their electoral offices – they have a lot of power to influence

During the Summit session ‘In conversation with Daniel Lee from Levi Strauss Foundation’, Daniel stressed the importance of advocacy in a thriving democracy:

Advocacy is the basic tenet of democracy: a vital tool for surfacing the voices of marginalised or vulnerable citizens and for participation in the vital issues facing communities. It is a high-leverage, high-impact strategy with proven return on investment.

For more advocacy resources see :