Gauging Our Impact: Community Survey 2021 Results
If you are a human with a computer or mobile device living in the year 2021, chances are you have had this experience: you buy a product or use a service, and somewhere along the way, you’re asked to complete a survey. Perhaps you scroll right past the survey or “X out” the pop-up or delete the email, and never think about it again. After all, they don’t actually use this data to improve anything, do they?
For the data nerds at Faunalytics, surveys are not just a sideshow to what we do. Indeed, gathering data from survey respondents is a large part of what makes our Original Research possible, and our Research Library is replete with thousands of studies that function in much the same way. In other words, we couldn’t do what we do without surveys, and conducting surveys is something we take seriously, because the results do matter to us.
It’s that same energy that we bring to our annual Community Surveys, where we poll our Faunalytics readers — as well as first-time users — about their experiences using our resources, and how we can improve that experience. 2021 was a banner year for our Community Survey, as we received more responses than ever before. In the following blog, we explore the quantitative and qualitative results, and how we plan to implement your suggestions moving forward.
The 2021 Faunalytics Community Survey ran from May 14th to 31st and received 501 responses with 405 complete surveys (81%). This is an increase over the last few years. We had 416 responses (325 complete) in 2020, which was already a substantial improvement from 118 completes in 2019.
Overall, we are on the right track when it comes to serving our core audience: 96% of the sample agreed that our work is high-quality, and 84% thought our work was either “extremely” or “very” valuable to animal advocacy. These are strong endorsements, and we’re honored by those high percentages. We also found that 93% of the sample would probably or definitely recommend us to others! This type of word of mouth is crucial for an organization like ours to raise awareness, so if you’re already telling other advocates about us, thank you.
In terms of the uptake of what we do, 79% agreed that Faunalytics’ work has helped guide their advocacy decisions, and 75% said that our work was “extremely” or “very” valuable in their area of primary interest. These represent 8% and 4% increases from last year, which is encouraging. As with last year, these statements were particularly true for advocates whose primary interests are effective advocacy or farmed animals, and those with other primary interests were still positive overall, but somewhat less so. For our part, we’ve always tried to curate a space that includes a wide variety of animal topics, and our Research Library contains a wealth of study summaries on virtually any significant animal issue you can think of.
The resources most often used were our original research studies (69%) email alerts and newsletters (62%), and library summaries (56%). About a third of respondents used the Research Advice part of the website and the Fundamentals. This shows a good spread of resources used, though we may be able to do more to make gains for our capacity-building resources.
In the sections below, we dig deeper into the quantitative results, and in the interest of transparency and openness, we’ve included all of the impact-relevant data here, both positive and negative. Though the picture painted by our users is overwhelmingly positive, we note important areas where we can take concrete steps to improve.
About You: Community Characteristics & Demographics
Advocacy Involvement. Faunalytics’ community are involved in advocacy in a range of different ways.
Primary Interest. As we have found in previous years, most of our community are primarily interested in animals used for food (42%) and effective advocacy (33%). This is followed by wildlife (10%) and companion animals (7%).
Effective Altruism. Faunalytics’ audience spans the spectrum of Effective Altruism (EA) aligned and grassroots activists. Close to half of respondents described their work as completely (19%) or very much (23%) part of the EA movement, while 25% said they didn’t know what EA is. The rest described their work as not at all (8%), slightly (8%), or moderately (18%) part of the EA movement. This breakdown is very similar to what we observed last year.
Demographics. For the first time in 2021, we also collected data about the demographics of our Community Survey respondents so that we can better support our audience and prioritize equity and inclusivity.
- 72% female, 26% male, 3% nonbinary and other genders
- 15% BIPOC/People of the Global Majority
- 17% LGBTQ+
- 8% people with disabilities
Key Performance Indicators
Note: These questions were not asked of first-time website visitors, and people who said ‘no opinion/don’t know’ were excluded.
- 79% agreed that Faunalytics’ work has helped guide their advocacy decisions.
- 77% said that Faunalytics’ work has improved their own or their organization’s advocacy efforts.
- 62% agreed that Faunalytics’ work has helped them or their organization reduce suffering and save animal lives. 26% said ‘neither agree nor disagree’ and 12% disagreed. Although this figure is lower, it’s worth noting that this is a higher bar for us to meet.
- 96% of the sample agreed that our work is high-quality.
- 84% thought our work is either extremely or very valuable to improving animal advocacy.
- 75% said our work is either extremely or very valuable within their area of primary interest. Specifically:
- 84% of those whose primary interest is effective advocacy
- 77% of those whose primary interest is animals used for food
- 67% of those whose primary interest is animals used in science
- 58% of those whose primary interest is wildlife
- 47% of those whose primary interest is companion animals (notably, none of these said ‘extremely’ valuable)
- 54% of those whose primary interest is in other topics
- 93% said that they would probably or definitely recommend Faunalytics to others.
- 89% agreed that they understand what Faunalytics does.
- 15% of people turn to Faunalytics first for research and data all the time, 34% choose us first often, 26% about half the time, 21% rarely, and 4% never.
KPIs in 2020 & 2021
Awareness Of Website Resources
The following table shows the percentage of respondents who were aware of each of our main resources. Last year’s figures are also provided for comparison.
Awareness of Resources in 2020 & 2021
As you can see in the table, awareness of all our resources appears to have increased in the past year. Although it’s not possible to pinpoint the reason from these data, it seems likely that this is due to the expansion of our communications team and publicity efforts. There may also still be a lingering positive effect of the website navigation overhaul that we undertook in 2019 to improve usability.
Relevance Of Major Program Resources
- 59% of respondents said the library summaries we release each week almost always or often include topics that are relevant to them. Another 30% said “about half the time.”
- 67% said that our original research reports almost always or often include topics that are relevant to them. Another 27% said “about half the time.”
Considering the wide range of backgrounds and interests among our audience, we consider these numbers to be positive and strong, though we are also looking more closely at how they break down by advocates’ primary area of interest.
Use Of Website Resources & Social Media
The following percentages indicate the number of respondents who said they had used each of our “traditional” (website and email) resources. Last year’s figures are also provided for comparison.
Resource Use in 2020 & 2021
As you can see above, many of the percentages for the website resources are down slightly from last year, while you can see below that the social media numbers are up. This could indicate a real shift in how people are engaging with Faunalytics’ content, but it could also be a side effect of wider survey distribution this year. These changes were necessary to maximize the usefulness of the survey, but we’ll strive to avoid further changes to ensure comparability of results year over year.
The following percentages indicate the number of respondents who follow us on our various social media platforms. Last year’s figures are also provided for comparison.
Social Media Followers in 2020 & 2021
Ways Of Using Our Resources
For the first time in 2021, we asked respondents how they have used our resources. Overall, 92% of respondents had put our resources to concrete use, in a wide variety of ways. Here is the complete list:
- To improve advocacy materials (e.g., by adding facts): 54%
- To improve advocacy techniques (e.g., outreach method): 34%
- To learn about why research and data are important: 27%
- To help design their own research or impact evaluation: 24%
- To help progress in an animal advocacy career or volunteerism: 18%
- To help choose an advocacy strategy for their organization: 14%
- To improve internal practices at their organization: 5%
- To help obtain funding or increase donations: 5%
- Other ways: 10%
This list shows the many, varied ways that Faunalytics helps build capacity for the movement.
Potential For Translated Resources
Most survey respondents’ preferred language for communication about animal advocacy was English (92%), with Spanish listed second (3%). This is not a big surprise considering that the survey was in English, but people also indicated that advocacy materials in these additional languages would be useful to them:
- 25% Spanish
- 7% Portuguese
- 7% French
- 6% Chinese (Simplified; used in mainland China)
- 3% Chinese (Traditional; used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, & Macau)
Given that these numbers come from advocates who speak English, it is likely that the true potential is higher than indicated here. Advocates who are not part of our current audience because they don’t speak English would be able to use translated resources as well.
First-Time Website Visitors
Of course, not everyone who completed the survey were longtime friends and fans. Visitors who reached the survey via the website were asked whether it was their first site visit or not, and 82 first-time visitors responded.
- 77% of first-time visitors said Faunalytics is a good fit for their needs (completely or very much)
- 72% said they would probably or definitely visit the site again in the future
- 48% said it was very easy to navigate the site, 27% said it was somewhat easy, and 25% said moderate. No one rated it on the difficult side.
Numbers are great, but we know that numerical data points can’t tell the whole story. In addition to numbers, we also want to get a richer understanding of how our audience feels about our work in their own words. As such, the final part of our Community Survey asked respondents to share feedback about which of our resources have been the most useful to them and what we can do to improve. These responses are harder to put into a quick and easy-to-understand graph, but they are nonetheless valuable.
We were delighted to receive over 190 responses to our qualitative questions, with most people revealing that our Research Library and Original Research have been the most useful resources for informing and accelerating their work. For example, David Van Beveren from Vegan Hacktivists shared:
Our data team regularly reads a wide variety of reports from Faunalytics! We especially appreciate ones that build on how we can become more effective as activists, as that helps shape how we pick our upcoming projects to work on.
Another advocate revealed that:
I’ve used the research on the public’s response to corporate commitments to convince companies that they will be viewed positively if they make policy improvements.
We love hearing examples of our research being put into action for animals!
In addition to our research and library summaries, we received many comments about our Office Hours, newsletters and weekly alerts, infographics and videos, Research Advice page, and Faunalytics Fundamentals. Krista Hiddema, Executive Director of For The Greater Good, explained:
I also love their infographics, the Faunalytics ‘fundamentals’, and the videos. They epitomize the notion that a picture or video is worth a thousand words, and are always a great place to start when considering how to effectively advocate for our animal friends.
We have been making a more concerted effort to share data in diverse formats, and it’s wonderful to hear that our audience is benefitting from our efforts. This kind of feedback not only encourages us to keep pushing into the areas of visual communication, it encourages us to keep experimenting with formats to see what works best for you.
You also provided helpful suggestions and requests to improve our work. Many of these suggestions fell into the following categories:
- Expanding our resources with a global focus: Many people asked for more research on animal advocacy beyond the U.S., with specific requests for data about Australia, Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. Others asked for us to translate our work (especially into Spanish and Portuguese), and still others requested insights on animal advocacy and veganism within indigenous communities.
- Ramping up our visual resources: You may have noticed that we’ve expanded our videos and infographics over the past year, and many of our users want to see even more of these non-written resources moving forward. As one advocate shared: “Concise as possible is always best.” Beyond the visual, some people also requested more audio versions of our research.
- Making our work even more accessible: We know that many animal advocates have limited time to spend reading and applying research, and it helps to hear how we can make the process as easy as possible. Along these lines, we received a number of recommendations to streamline our summaries and weekly emails: Some respondents asked for a brief list of “key takeaways” at the top of each summary and others requested that we include infographics and “challenge questions” at the end of our summaries to help advocates apply the insights to their work. Adding new tags to our research library to help advocates fine-tune what they’re looking for and including links to all of our resources in our weekly emails were other recommendations. While we aren’t likely to implement all of these specific suggestions, we are having discussions about how to further increase our accessibility and readability.
Going Forward, With You
Our annual survey is an essential tool for us to gauge how we’re doing, and connect with you, our users and readers. The time you take to give us your feedback is invaluable — not only because we know how valuable time is in the Internet attention economy, but because your answers are taken to heart. And we know that while our survey gives us a great picture of those who engage with our work, it can never show us the full picture. There are many thousands of users who didn’t complete the survey, and we’ll continue to use our website data and other metrics to better understand their needs. We’re happy to say that some of the key feedback we’ve gotten — on taking a broader global focus, on adding more visual resources, on translations and other accessibility improvements — are projects we’re already working on in earnest.
As we noted last year, while our community survey has a time limit, we welcome your feedback year-round. If you have feedback on our work, you can reach us directly via DMs and comments on all of our social media channels, you can leave comments on any blog post and study summary in our library, you can contact us privately and directly through our site, and you can drop in on our office hours if you have specific questions about what we do, or how we do it. We always do our best to respond to every comment and email, but please be patient with us. Our team is mighty but small, and being thoughtful and thorough is our first priority.
Thank you again for making our annual Community Survey a success. If you have questions or comments about anything you’ve read, or you have further ideas on how we can help you improve your work, reach out to us and let us know. We’re listening.