20 Ways Faunalytics Has Supported The Animal Protection Movement
Faunalytics was born 20 years ago when our founder, Che Green, sought to enhance the impact of animal groups nationwide. At the time, animal advocacy in the U.S. was spearheaded by a loose network of grassroots organizations throughout the country. Research to inform their advocacy didn’t exist and the best strategies for persuading the public toward compassion for animals were unknown. Faunalytics was launched in 2000 to provide the kind of insight we knew animal advocates were lacking. Our founder’s original idea was a small seed that grew into something much bigger.
Faunalytics evolved, and we now conduct original research studies for the animal protection movement, host a massive online research library of over 4,000 articles on external studies, and provide pro-bono support to organizations, advocates, and researchers. Thanks to our generous donors, all of our research and resources are free to the public. Our mission is to empower animal advocates with access to research, analysis, strategies, and messages that maximize their effectiveness to reduce animal suffering. 20 years later, data-driven animal advocacy is more common than ever and Faunalytics is proud to have played a part in that evolution.
Here are 20 ways we’ve supported the movement over the last two decades:
- Faunalytics’ Animal Tracker, a longitudinal survey conducted from 2008-2019, provides the movement with an in-depth overview of U.S. adults’ opinions and behavior relating to animals. The study included questions relating to awareness and knowledge of animal issues, perceptions of animal advocacy, animal-related behavior, support for animal protection, and more. We also captured key demographic data that identifies both allies and adversaries of animal protection.
- Our landmark study of lapsed and current vegetarians and vegans has become an essential resource for animal advocates. We were able to provide an accurate estimate of the number of former and current vegetarians and vegans in the U.S. drawn from a representative sample of more than 11,000 adults. Our study went viral, and we identified challenges and opportunities for the movement to increase effectiveness with the insights we gathered.
- To date we’ve produced four incredible and detailed infographics known as Faunalytics’ Fundamentals, a collection of topic overviews and resources that provide the latest and best data for a variety of important animal issues. Our Fundamentals are visually engaging, interactive, and fully sourced. Currently, the series includes all the stats advocates need on farmed animals, research animals, companion animals, and wildlife.
- True to our initial purpose, we tested the readability of vegan outreach literature commonly used by advocates. Organizations spend a lot of time and money creating outreach materials and leaflets, and advocates shouldn’t have to guess at what is most effective. Based on our findings, we recommend developing vegan outreach materials at a 7th or 8th grade reading level to ensure comprehensibility for a large proportion of the population.
- Language can make or break most campaigns, and many animal advocates have discussed the implications of referring to animals by common euphemisms like beef, pork, and livestock, rather than explicitly as cow, pig, and animals. We tested whether referring to meat by the animal it came from would have an effect on attitudes or consumption. To our surprise, none of our analyses showed significant differences between the euphemistic and explicit wording! Based on these findings, we would caution that word choice in many typical advocacy contexts may be more symbolically important than influential.
- In recent years, the term “plant-based” has been widely adopted as an alternative to “vegan” and “vegetarian.” There are good theoretical reasons for this move: The term focuses on what a product contains rather than what it lacks, and it doesn’t have the baggage associated with veganism. However, your Faunalysts always think strategy should be data-driven. So we investigated different names for meat alternatives. We found that favor with each word completely depends on who you ask. For advocates, this means targeting your messages to appeal to specific groups may be the best strategy.
- Another strategy hotly debated among animal advocates is whether we should push for meat reduction versus meat elimination. In other words, should we ask the public to eat less meat or go veg? We conducted a study that found that advocating for meat reduction led to more meatless meal purchases than advocating for vegetarianism.
- Presentation can send a campaign soaring or leave it flatlining. We conducted “Ad Autopsies” to learn why some campaign advertisements work while others fail, in an effort to help organizations spend their marketing dollars as effectively as possible. We conducted two analyses of print advertisements from the movement (one on spay/neuter campaigns and the other on anti-vivisection campaigns). Our objective was to explore the strengths and weaknesses of various ads while drawing lessons from the existing research to improve our collective efforts.
- Just as we help organizations improve, we are always looking for ways to improve ourselves. We conduct an annual community survey to measure the effectiveness of our research and resources, adjusting our strategies based on feedback we receive. We are also grateful to Animal Charity Evaluators for outlining opportunities for improvement. Yet sometimes we stumble onto those opportunities by accident. When Faunalytics discovered that some participants in a study we were conducting were fraudulent, we learned from our mistake. But we also wanted other researchers to learn from our mistake, so we wrote a detailed article on survey fraud and how to avoid it.
- Additionally, we offer advice, guidance, and resources on conducting surveys – from designing a study to asking the right questions, we’re here to help guide advocates and researchers who want to help the movement #KnowMore. We also offer “office hours” to help and support advocates in finding any information they need to strengthen their efforts.
- Helping great organizations measure their impact is also part of what we do. We partnered up with the team at Veganuary to understand the impacts of their widely popular campaign that aims to encourage people to try eating vegan for the month of January (with the hopes of showing participants that the diet can be healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable for the long-term). We were able to cautiously estimate that the Veganuary campaign that year saved nearly 24,000 animals! Here are a few testimonials from advocates and organizations we’ve helped.
- We partnered with Animal Equality to study the effectiveness of video outreach for reducing pork consumption and shifting attitudes. Many animal advocacy groups educate the public about the horrors of factory farming through the use of video outreach; however, few organizations have rigorously tested their videos’ effectiveness in changing behavior. Our results presented a consistent picture of the two videos (360 and 2-dimensional) as effective advocacy tools.
- Speaking of videos, ever wondered what the most effective veg outreach video is? Should veg*n outreach videos focus on health, the environment, or ethics? We found that the effectiveness of the videos varied surprisingly little even though the videos themselves varied in important ways, such as the level of graphicness or the specific appeal being made (health, the environment, animal cruelty). Our findings suggest that any well-produced video that educates the public about factory farming will encourage a sizable minority of viewers to reduce consumption of animal products in the future.
- But we also know that change doesn’t just happen on an individual level. In recent years, corporate lobbying efforts have played an increasing role in animal advocacy. Organizations have been successful in bringing about dozens of commitments to use or provide cage-free eggs and enact other welfare improvements. We investigated what impact corporate commitments to switching to cage-free eggs have on public attitudes. We found positive results that not only support advocates’ efforts to lobby corporations, but also, and importantly, that corporations should not fear response to animal welfare improvements.
- From individuals to corporations, animal suffering is a global issue, with approximately 70 billion land animals killed for food every year. So it is important to us that our work extends beyond North America. It is also important to us to present research in a variety of engaging ways – from written reports to infographics to videos. We put together a series of charts based on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations data to show the global slaughter statistics and trends by type of animal.
- In an effort to help inform advocates working on issues abroad, we conducted a study of attitudinal and behavioral differences among people in the “BRIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China – plus the United States). We examined national differences in current meat consumption, changes in meat consumption, support for policies to improve farmed animal welfare, attitudes and perceived norms about farmed animal welfare, and beliefs about the impact of consuming meat. We found that the majority of people would support a law requiring the humane treatment of animals used for food. Yet despite wanting better welfare for farmed animals, most people don’t believe their meat-eating is to blame for animal suffering. This gives advocates both encouragement and key insight into the best avenues to influence change and attitudes in these regions.
- Faunalytics’ research library has helped shape conservation efforts in Africa. A conservationist was working with the Rainforest Trust on a wildlife reserve in Cameroon that is home to a wide range of species. Their team was getting ready to set camera traps to do a sampling of animals around Lake Ossa, but all was not going smoothly. Bush pigs were constantly triggering the camera traps, skewing their results. After diving into Faunalytics’ library, their team was able to find relevant studies and other ways to accurately measure species abundance and health.
- Our library doesn’t stop there. We host the world’s largest online library of studies on animal issues and advocacy topics, with more than 4,000 articles in our collection that are completely free for advocates to access and learn from. Our army of talented volunteers summarize external studies on topics related to farmed animals, companion animals (including important topics like TNR and breed-specific legislation), animals used in science, animals used for entertainment, wildlife/conservation, effective animal advocacy, and much more.
- Advocacy isn’t possible without funding to support our efforts. Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy consistently shows that animal and environmental causes receive the smallest slices of the charitable giving pie. Driven by a desire to increase the number and size of donations to animal causes, Faunalytics conducted an in-depth study about the people who support animal causes, including what they do, what they like, and who they are. Our results can help advocates learn more about their target audiences. We also outlined recommendations for identifying and cultivating potential new supporters.
- Among donations to animal causes, we know that farmed animals receive less support than companion animals. But why? Is the difference due to the amount of exposure and/or messaging style, including whether appeals are more successful if they use a single identifiable victim or statistics about total victims? We found that there was no difference in donations whether the appeal used an identifiable victim or statistical victims, and that farmed animals received almost as much money as companion animals when donors were given the opportunity to support them.
If you’re an animal lover who would like the opportunity to support the entire animal protection movement, we hope you’ll make a donation (a birthday gift to Faunalytics!) to help our work continue. The activities outlined above are only a glimmer of what Faunalytics has accomplished in the last 20 years. Now and in the years to come, we continue to empower animal advocates. Our work makes the movement more strategic, data driven, and effective so that together, we can end animal suffering. Please donate today – our team is so grateful for your support.
Faunalytics has been named a Standout Charity by Animal Charity Evaluators since 2015.