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Engagement Opportunities in 2018

21 August 2018 at 7:30 am
Jo Scard
For-good communications agency Fifty Acres offers some top tips to help not for profits refine their political engagement strategy in the lead up to the next election.

Jo Scard | 21 August 2018 at 7:30 am


Engagement Opportunities in 2018
21 August 2018 at 7:30 am

For-good communications agency Fifty Acres offers some top tips to help not for profits refine their political engagement strategy in the lead up to the next election.

2018 has shaped up to be a great opportunity for not for profits to kick political engagement goals – from securing funding and support to influencing policy change.

This is what you need to know about the current political landscape, in order to craft a strategic engagement plan that will help your organisation succeed in the lead up to the next federal election, and beyond.

Build relationships with Labor

The tides are turning for the Labor Party and leader Bill Shorten, who’s long struggled to appeal to voters.

Polling shows Labor has been creeping further ahead of the Turnbull Coalition government – and Shorten’s own approval ratings have also improved – in the wake of the super Saturday byelections. The latest Essential poll has Labor ahead of the Coalition on the two-party preferred measure, 52 per cent to 48 per cent, compared to the result last fortnight, which was 51 per cent to 49 per cent. This week’s Fairfax-Ipsos poll Labor moved further ahead at 55-45 2-Party-Preferred. Meanwhile, Shorten’s net approval rating improved from -16 to -10 in the past month.

Labor’s performance in the super Saturday byelections – it held onto all four of its seats, most critically the hotly contested seats of Braddon in Tasmania and Longman in Queensland – has buoyed Shorten’s hopes of federal election victory.

With Labor gaining ground, it’s more important for not for profits to strengthen relationships with Labor politicians. But you’ll need to move fast to secure engagement opportunities before the end of 2018 – expect fierce competition for facetime with shadow ministers.

Target funding, policy change related to inequality, social supports

It’s a great time to be in the for-good sector, with the Labor Party’s messaging – focusing on health, education, fighting inequality, and opposing tax cuts for the largest companies – clearly hitting the spot with voters.

The public mood is primed for not for profits to take action. It’s an opportunity not to be missed to position for policy changing and funding addressing these key issues. Again, organisations need to be on the front-foot to succeed as the “share of voice” for these issues will be hotly contested.

Keep the doors open to the Coalition

The Coalition learned some big lessons after the super Saturday by-elections; the party failed to win any of the three seats it targeted. Particularly troubling was the substantial 16 per cent vote for One Nation in Longman, Queensland – which indicates the party is losing its grip on its traditional base of voters.

It was a red flag for the Coalition’s policy agenda and messaging. The prime minister and his ministers are now thought to be re-casting their framing to win back voters turning to protest parties and candidates like One Nation.

How should not for profits react? Engaging with the Coalition is still important to ensure a bipartisan approach to secure broad support for what you want. Moreover, the Coalition’s current position presents an opportunity, with ministers on the lookout for positive “announceables” to win over voters.

The leadership speculation in the coalition has surfaced again. This is a live story at the time we are publishing, we will bring you more information in our next column of how the outcome may affect you.

Keep talking to the minor parties

Yes, Australia’s minor parties are still important. This was made clear in the strength of the protest vote against the large parties in the byelections – with a high primary vote for the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie in Mayo (45 per cent), support for independent Craig Garland in Braddon (11 per cent), as well as Longman’s vote for One Nation.

Ultimately, it shows there’s never been a more important time – or an opportune time – for not for profits to work on broadening political networks. Building relationships with minor parties and independents can help a great deal in gaining leverage. 

Where to from here?

A strategic approach is key to succeed in engagement.

Not for profits need to ensure they have clear objectives and goals for engagement, which are achievable and measurable. Messaging that is tailored to your target and a strong base of evidence for what you want, such as research and impact data, is also key.

Not for profits of any size – from the smallest to the largest – can seize the engagement opportunity in 2018. Just remember that competition is heating up, so you need to act fast.

Organisations of all sizes and shapes can seize the engagement opportunity in 2018.

If you want help to navigate the political landscape, or a winning engagement strategy, get in touch with Jo Scard at Fifty Acres on 0457 725 953 or visit

Jo Scard  |  @ProBonoNews

Jo Scard is the founder and managing director of Fifty Acres.

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