Faunalytics’ Room For More Funding
It’s the time of year when donors are thinking about how to maximize the impact of their contributions to animal groups. Recently, Animal Charity Evaluators noted in their review that Faunalytics could effectively make use of at least $170,000 in additional funds. After receiving a few requests for more details, the Faunalytics board of directors wanted to describe our “room for more funding” and what we could achieve in 2018 with additional support.
ACE Review and Estimated RFMF
After conducting its review, Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) once again designated Faunalytics a “standout charity.” We were first awarded this designation in 2015 and the review happens every two years. ACE commented that, as animal advocates use our research, “Faunalytics may over time achieve quite a high impact for a low cost.” Because we focus on educating advocates and helping them do their best for animals, support for Faunalytics is magnified many times over.
ACE also noted some potential weaknesses in their review. We appreciate the feedback and will be responding to it soon, in more depth and in a separate blog. This will include our reasons for devoting some resources to a diverse range of animal advocacy topics.
When it comes to our room for funding, the ACE review commented,
We estimate their (Faunalytics’) room for funding at $170,000–$400,000. This would allow them to end their client-based research—freeing up resources for more pro bono and independent research—as well as provide them with sufficient funding to hire their desired staff. Given the consistency of their financials over recent years, we think that almost all of this additional funding is unlikely to be filled in the next year.
The lower boundary of ACE’s room-for-funding range would roughly double Faunalytics’ income compared to what we project for 2017. This would represent ambitious growth that could prove difficult to sustain without a larger donor base. While we don’t expect to reach this amount of additional funding next year, we believe Faunalytics could make effective use of substantially more funding. We also find it a useful thought exercise to help determine our priorities for 2018.
Research is one of the most powerful investments that we can make for animals. Below is how Faunalytics would prioritize additional funds to save lives and reduce suffering.
New Studies, New Insights
Faunalytics provides the kind of critical research and evidence needed to help build a successful animal advocacy movement. We have three active studies right now and are currently planning our next major research project. If we were to receive substantial additional support, we would devote most of those resources (an estimated $75,000) to conducting original research. Our emphasis would be on “meta” topics that provide actionable insight to many animal advocates.
Specifically, we expect the additional $75,000 would cover the direct costs and staff time for two of the four potential research studies described below. Faunalytics currently does not have a budget for these items and we typically raise funds for new studies as needed. However, we believe each of these ideas has the potential to help advocates increase their effectiveness in key areas and potentially help grow the movement’s available resources.
- The Impact of Corporate Commitments: When businesses commit to improving animal welfare, how do people respond to those commitments? This study would use thematic content analysis to explore reactions to “cage-free” commitments by corporations. It would also explore reactions when such commitments are achieved or go unmet.
- Why Some Advocates Become Inactive: Following our landmark study of lapsed vegetarians and vegans, many people asked about lapsed advocates. This study would seek to study a broad cross-section of former and current advocates to identify key reasons that some advocates become temporarily or permanently inactive.
- Social Norms as Advocacy Tools: Is it more effective to ask people to change their behavior to help animals or to show them that their peers are already doing so? “Social norms” can have a powerful influence on people. This study would explore how social norms could be used as an effective tool to encourage pro-animal behavior.
- Increasing Funding for Animals: Less than 1% of all charitable giving goes to animal causes, an injustice given the magnitude of animal suffering. This study would seek to identify the most effective messages and approaches for persuading both new donors and current donors to other causes to choose more animal-related charities.
The additional funds for research would also allow Faunalytics to continue – and potentially expand – our three current projects. These studies include:
- Year 11 of the Faunalytics Animal Tracker, exploring how the public ranks animal advocacy versus other social causes, as well as their perceptions of the credibility of animal advocates, discussion of animal issues, importance of animal welfare, and laws to protect animals.
- Our study of what messages might work best to overcome the perceived unnaturalness of “clean” (cultured) meat. We just completed the pilot survey for this project, which is mostly supported by the ACE research fund, with a small amount of unmet expenses.
- Our study of attitudes toward farmed animal welfare among BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China, as well as the United States. This project, which we will field in early 2018, will allow advocates to understand differences in attitudes among the largest meat-consuming countries.
Building Knowledge Capacity
For nearly 20 years, Faunalytics has helped build an effective animal advocacy movement by focusing on providing the knowledge needed to maximize impact. Our independent studies described above are just one way we accomplish this. We also provide free expert advice to thousands of advocates every year through training, presentations, and direct pro bono consultations.
Faunalytics currently does all of this with just three paid staff, two of whom work less than full time. We also work with dozens of wonderful volunteers, but our small staff limits our ability to provide this kind of expertise. For instance, additional financial resources would allow our research director to lend her social psychology expertise to more groups through partner projects.
The Faunalytics Research Library is the movement’s go-to source for research on attitudes and behavior relating to animal issues. Our library and other online resources reach hundreds of thousands of people every year and thousands of advocates read our summaries every week, at an efficient cost of less than ten cents per reader. With additional funding, our content director would take this incredible resource to new levels. Specifically:
- Expand our library coverage with even greater focus on effectiveness-related research including literature summaries, meta-analyses, and insights from experts.
- Work with developers to manage an extensive list of planned improvements to our website to improve usability, navigation, searchability, and our email alerts.
- Create more visual resources including infographics and interactive tools to reach an increasingly visually-oriented audience and help users explore underlying data.
- Provide easier ways for people to share Faunalytics’ research and library resources by employing open standards and offering content under a Creative Commons license.
A small portion of the remaining funds (about $10,000) would be used for visibility, including conference attendance, sponsorships, and limited content marketing. Finally, best practices for nonprofits suggest maintaining substantial reserves, typically 6-12 months of operating expenses. As we grow our organization and our impact, we would also seek to maintain a robust level of at least eight months of reserves. Ideally, this would involve adding about $50,000 to our existing reserves of $90,000.
Making the Case for Leverage
Grassroots activists, shelter workers, undercover investigators… the list of animal heroes is long, and it’s crucial that we support these forms of advocacy. It is just as crucial that we also support effective “meta” activities like research and evaluation. When done right, these can have a massive impact for all organizations working to protect animals. It’s all about leverage.
As a relatively small movement, animal advocates need as much leverage as possible to end animal suffering and abuse. Faunalytics’ research is guided by our mission to solve the most challenging problems and help the greatest number of advocates and animals. We think research is crucial to saving more animals, more quickly. But our work rarely grabs headlines and, by definition and design, is less visible than other animal groups’ contributions.
Unfortunately, the support that Faunalytics receives from donors is also tiny when compared to higher-profile organizations. If you’re motivated by leverage, please know that Faunalytics is the only dedicated “meta” charity currently recommended by ACE. If you care about supporting research that benefits the entire animal protection movement, please donate to Faunalytics today.
“Faunalytics provides the kind of critical research and insight that enables nonprofits, ethical companies, and the Good Food Institute to create the future of food.”
Good Food Institute
Supporting Effective Animal Advocacy
We don’t expect to grow our budget by $170,000 in 2018. That kind of growth would likely be overly ambitious and unsustainable. However, we hope we made the case that Faunalytics has room for more funding and could accomplish much more with additional support. Because most donors prefer to give to organizations working on the “front lines” of animal advocacy, research nonprofits like Faunalytics desperately need the support of those who understand the value we add.
If you are making a larger donation, please contact us at [email protected] or 206-905-9887 to discuss options that could reduce or eliminate third-party fees.