This article explores the avenues used by non-governmental organisations working in the sector of EU social policy to influence the law-making process at the EU. The Commission's current transparency initiative has focused attention on the rules (or lack of) governing access to the Commission as the initiator of legislation. This article examines more broadly, on the basis of interviews, both the formal and informal means of accessing not only the Commission, but also the European Parliament (in particular through intergroups) as well as the Council. By using specific examples of legislation it illustrates the routes by which 'social' non-governmental organisations currently interact with these institutions, offering examples of how their work may impact on the output of the Commission, Council and Parliament. The article avoids an overly legalistic analysis with an original glimpse at the 'hidden' workings of the EU law-making process which has hitherto received little attention among legal academics and practitioners.