This paper examines the long-term grassroots empowerment strategies endorsed by non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) in Lima, Peru and their application in concrete development programmes. An examination of NGDO literature and projects permits the synthesis of three ideal-typical empowerment strategies (Neo-Marxist, Neo-Anarchist, Coalition-Building). These strategies are described and compared, especially with respect to their diverging conceptions on processes of 'botton-up' development, the characterisation of grassroots mobilisation and the role of the state and political parties. These differences, however, tend to be compromised once actual advocacy work with the grassroots is contemplated, when development projects have to deal with the micro-mobilisation patterns of the poor and the political conjuncture. Several interpretations of the contradiction between idealtypical strategies and actual advocacy tactics are discussed, concluding that such contradictions are inherent to any political process based on grassroots empowerment and a 'bottom-up' agenda.