People Who Support Animal Causes: Who Gives More?
Faunalytics recently published the results of an original study about the people who donate money to animal causes. More specifically, the study examined the people who support animal causes: who are they, what kind of support do they provide, and what are their donation-related preferences?
This report follows on from the first by simultaneously considering all the factors that predict donations and other important outcomes, to see which are the strongest predictors. In other words, which characteristics of animal-cause donors predict who gives the most, what other support they give, and under what circumstances?
For details about the study on which this analysis is based, please see the original report.
In short, we used multiple regression to assess the unique contribution of a long list of predictor variables controlling for other, related predictors. For example, the effect of having a companion animal on monetary donations, regardless of participants’ income, age, gender, etc.
In the tables below, we list only significant predictors (at p < .01). For the full list of predictors and additional details of the analytic approach, please see the Detailed Method section at the bottom.
1. Who Prioritizes Animals?
In the survey, we asked participants to name the one charity that was most important to them personally and then to indicate whether that charity works in support of animals of any kind (yes or no).
Table 1 shows which respondent characteristics predicted whether a person listed an animal charity as the most important charity to them. That is, people with these characteristics are more likely than others to name an animal charity as the most important to them.
Table 1. What Predicts Identifying An Animal Cause As Most Important?
Demographics: The first row of data in Table 1 shows which demographic characteristics predicted whether someone listed an animal cause as their most important. In general, women, non-religious, and politically liberal people were more likely to prioritize an animal charity above all others. Other demographic variables did not reliably predict prioritization of animal charities in this study.
Everyday Animal-Related Behaviors: As shown in the second row of the table, people with companion animals were more likely to prioritize animal causes above all others. Whether a person engages in an animal appreciation hobby or an animal destruction hobby, however, did not reliably predict whether they prioritized animal charities above others. And, perhaps surprisingly, veg*n diet was not a significant predictor of this outcome either.
Other Charitable Interests: As shown in the third row of the table, people who donated to health, children’s, military, emergency services, youth development, and/or formal education charities were less likely than others to prioritize animals over other charitable interests.
Donation Methods: The bottom row of the table would indicate which types of previously-used donation method out of 13 (e.g., made a donation by mail, by phone, via a charity’s website) predicted whether someone listed an animal cause as their most important. However, no particular donation method was associated with whether or not people listed an animal-related charity as being most important to them personally. In other words, there doesn’t appear to be a donation method that appealed particularly to those who gave priority to animals over other causes.
2. Monetary Donations
A. Who Gives More?
We asked participants to report how much money (in US dollars) they donated, in total, to animal-related charities in the prior 12 months.
Table 2 shows which respondent characteristics predicted donating more money to animal causes. That is, people with these characteristics tend to donate more than people with other characteristics.
Table 2. What Predicts Donating More Money To Animal Causes?
Demographics: As Table 2 shows, people who earn more money on an annual basis generally donated larger amounts to animal causes. Note that this relationship was not especially strong, however, indicating that wealthier individuals don’t necessarily give proportionately more of their money than do less wealthy individuals: They just gave more dollars overall.
Everyday Animal-Related Behaviors: In general, people who eat a veg*n diet and those who engage in animal-appreciation hobbies such as bird-watching, whale-watching, and/or animal photography donated more money to animals than those who don’t.
Other Charitable Interests: In general, people who also donated to youth development programs (e.g., sports, extracurricular activities, out-of-school enrichment) donated less money to animals, on average, than those who did not.
Donation Methods: On average, people who have previously donated to charities over the phone and/or via a social networking website/app donated more money to animal causes than those who hadn’t used these donation methods. These methods may be more effective than others for soliciting larger donations, or they may be chosen more often by people who want to make larger donations.
B. Who Has A Recurring Donation?
We asked participants if they have a recurring donation (e.g., a monthly withdrawal) set up with any animal charity.
Table 3 shows which respondent characteristics predicted donating having a recurring donation set up. That is, people with these characteristics are more likely than others to have a recurring donation to an animal cause.
Table 3. What Predicts Having A Recurring Donation To An Animal Cause?
Demographics: On average, people who attend a religious institution more frequently were more likely to report having a recurring donation set up to benefit an animal-related cause. None of the other demographic variables reliably predicted this outcome.
Everyday Animal-Related Behaviors: The second row of Table 3 would show which everyday animal-related behaviors predicted whether participants have a recurring donation set up with an animal charity. However, none of these predictors helped to explain who donates regularly to animal charities.
Other Charitable Interests: In general, people who also donated to places of worship were less likely to set up a recurring donation with an animal charity than those who did not. This result provides an interesting contrast to the previous, which indicates that more religiously observant people are more likely to give recurring donations. We interpret the results to suggest that those who demonstrate religious observance through frequent practice are more likely to regularly support animal causes than are those who demonstrate their religious observance with money. That being said, a relatively small proportion of the sample had set up a recurring donation in the first place: only 10%. As such, there is a great deal of room to increase its frequency among all varieties of people and categories of interest.
Donation Methods: In general, those who donated to charities previously over the phone, via a charity’s website, and/or by text, on average, were more likely to have a recurring donation set up to benefit animal causes than those who didn’t use these donation methods. These methods may be more effective than others for soliciting recurring donations, or they may be chosen more often by people who want to make recurring donations.
3. Non-Monetary Donations
A. Who Donates Time Or Gifts In-Kind?
We asked participants about the forms of support they had provided to an animal-related charity in the past 12 months. This analysis considers whether or not they had donated their time (i.e., volunteering) and/or goods (i.e., gifts in kind).
Table 4 shows which respondent characteristics predicted donating time and/or goods. That is, people with these characteristics are more likely than others to donate their time and/or gifts in kind.
Table 4. What Predicts Donating Time and/or Goods to Animal Causes?
Demographics: On average, younger people and women were more likely to contribute goods and time to animal-related charities than are older people and men. The other demographic variables were not reliable predictors of these non-monetary donations.
Everyday Animal-Related Behaviors: As shown in the table, people with companion animals were more likely to donate goods/time than those without. We interpret this to imply that a commitment to animals at home aligns to a similar kind of commitment (time/goods) to animals outside the home.
Other Charitable Interests: People who donate money to local social service charities and/or charities benefiting the elderly were more likely than those who don’t to contribute time and/or goods to animal-related causes.
Donation Methods: On average, those who had previously donated money to charities via social networking websites/apps, at a charity’s physical location, or by purchasing merchandise sold by a charity were more likely to donate time/goods to an animal-related cause.
B. Who Participates in Fundraising Activities?
We asked participants if in the prior 12 months (yes or no) they had attended or volunteered at a fundraiser and/or participated in or sponsored someone for a fundraising walk/run (etc.) in support of an animal charity.
Table 5 shows which respondent characteristics predicted participating in fundraising activities. That is, people with these characteristics are more likely to attend or support fundraisers.
Table 5. What Predicts Participation in Fundraising Activities?
Demographics: As shown in the table, younger people and religious people were more likely to participate in fundraising activities on behalf of animals than were older people and the less religious.
Everyday Animal-Related Behaviors: On average, people who engage in hobbies related to animal appreciation were more likely to participate in fundraising events on behalf of animals than those who don’t engage in such hobbies.
Other Charitable Interests: The third row of the table would show which additional charitable interests predicted whether participants engage in fundraising-type activities to benefit animals. However, as shown, whether or not participants also gave money to any other particular cause did not predict their level of participation in fundraising activities on behalf of animal charities. In other words, no additional charitable interest was associated with engagement in fundraising for animals.
Donation Methods: On average, those who donated money to charities previously at a fundraising event (no surprise!) were more likely to say they participate in fundraising activities. Additionally, those who donated money to a charity at its physical location were also more likely to engage in fundraising activities to benefit animal-related charities. It may be that these findings represent the same people: Those who reported donating money at the charity’s physical location may have done so at a fundraising event.
C. Who Engages in Activism?
We asked participants if in the prior 12 months (yes or no) they had attended or organized a march/protest/demonstration and/or signed or sent an email/letter on behalf of an animal organization.
Table 6 shows which respondent characteristics predicted engaging in activism for animals. That is, people with these characteristics are more likely than others to engage in activism on behalf of an animal charity.
Table 6. What Predicts Engaging In Activism?
Demographics: On average, younger people and self-identified politically liberal people were more likely to engage in activism on behalf of animals than were older people and more politically conservative people.
Everyday Animal-Related Behaviors: In general, people who engage in hobbies related to animal appreciation were more likely to engage in animal activism versus those who don’t engage in such hobbies. Perhaps animal-appreciation hobbies demonstrate a commitment to animals other than one’s own (e.g., companion animals). However, this explanation wouldn’t account for why veg*ns aren’t also more likely to engage in activism on behalf of animals.
Other Charitable Interests: Respondents who also gave money to environmental/conservation causes and/or to election campaigns were more likely to engage in activism on behalf of animals. As described in the Detail Method section, these results already control for self-identified political orientation: In other words, regardless of a person’s political orientation (conservative vs. liberal), people who donated to protect the environment or to political campaigns were also more amenable than those who didn’t to engaging in activism for the benefit of animal charities.
Donation Methods: In general, people who previously donated money to charities via a charity’s website, through a social networking website/app, by making purchases through a third-party vendor, and/or by adding to a collection box at a check-out counter were more likely to engage in activist activities on behalf of an animal charity.
Conclusions & Recommendations
Below, we highlight the findings that we believe may be of the most use to animal advocates.
Pay attention to what people do, not what they say
Participants in this study were asked to name their most personally important charity and to indicate whether that charity benefits animals or not. Several factors played a role in predicting who would claim an animal-related charity as their most important, but it didn’t necessarily follow that these same factors predicted who was likely to give more money, who would volunteer, who would participate in fundraisers, or who would engage in activism. Thus, the people who ‘shout’ the loudest about their commitment to animals may not necessarily or consistently follow through with behaviors that would be of great benefit to animal organizations.
The biggest financial donors aren’t necessarily wealthy
While wealthier individuals give larger donations, on average, to animal causes, regardless of wealth, people who eat a veg*n diet, and/or who engage in hobbies such as bird-watching, whale-watching, or animal photography are likely to make larger financial donations to animal-related organizations than those who aren’t/don’t. In other words, people who demonstrate a regular interest in animals tend to put more of their money where their mouth is.
While most animal advocates might guess that veg*ns are a relatively reliable source of donations—and this is true—it may be less understood that people who engage in certain kinds of animal-related hobbies are also a good potential source of financial contributions. The question is then, of course, how to find these people, in response to which we suggest that social media platforms (e.g., Facebook) and other online social spaces (e.g., meetup.com) may be useful.
Additionally, some non-animal charitable interests should be seen as being cooperative, rather than in competition, with animal interests
People who donate money to organizations that help the elderly or support needy locals (e.g., social service organizations) are more likely to contribute time and/or goods to animal organizations. Similarly, people who donate money to environmental/conservation organizations or to political/election campaigns are more likely to participate in activism on behalf of animals. Thus, just because people demonstrate an interest in other organizations via a financial contribution does not preclude them from contributing to animal organizations, albeit in non-monetary ways.
To encourage financial donations, some methods might be better than others
In terms of monetary contributions, having donated previously via phone calls was associated with both an increase in the size of the donation and a greater chance of someone signing up to make a recurring donation. And having made a prior donation via text messaging (SMS) was even more strongly associated with an increased likelihood of setting up a recurring donation. Again, we can’t draw strong causal conclusions from the correlational nature of the data, but these findings hint that call-lists may still have their place in modern donation solicitation practices.
The donation of time/goods is associated with the use of certain donation methods
People who donate time or goods to animal charities tend to have several features in common. They often use social media platforms to make donations, they like to purchase merchandise associated with charities, and they also tend to donate in person at a charity’s location.
These people might be thought of as a charity’s core volunteers: they donate time, goods, money, they engage with the charity on social media, and they wear the charity’s gear. It seems slightly cynical to try to extract ever more from such loyal volunteers, but if your organization is not giving its volunteers additional ‘opportunities’ to see themselves as being an integral part of the organization (e.g., the ability to buy merchandise with the charity’s logo, to interact with their favourite charity via their favourite social media platform, etc.), then their loyalty could potentially wane.
Activism is associated with the use of additional donation methods
People who participate in activism on behalf of a charity engage with charities via social media too, but they additionally make financial contributions via the charity’s website, they use third-party platforms that benefit charities (e.g., Amazon Smile), and they are more likely to donate spontaneously by adding cash to a counter-top box during check-out at a shop. Thus, we encourage groups to make these additional methods available whenever possible, and recommend that counter-top boxes provide the charity’s URL and social media handles to encourage cross-platform engagement.
Because the analyses described in this report are exploratory and not pre-registered, we set the alpha criterion to p ≤ .01 rather than the more typical value of .05. A Bonferroni correction — wherein the new alpha criterion is set to .05 divided by the number of exploratory tests run — would in this case result in an over-conservative threshold, thereby inflating Type II errors (i.e., rejection of true differences). In order to offer animal advocates useful clues as to who gives more and under what circumstances, we thus tried to balance Type I and II errors by setting the a priori alpha criterion to .01.
As noted in the Basic Method section, we considered three key categories of outcome. These were:
- Animal charity prioritization: Namely, whether a person identifies an animal-related charity as their most important charity or not;
- Monetary donations: Including the amount of money given to animal-related charities and likelihood of having a recurring donation set up; and
- Non-monetary donations: Including donations of time or gifts in kind, participating in fundraising activities, and engaging in activism.
The predictors fell in four categories:
- Age (in years)
- Income (in annual dollars)
- Gender (Male vs. Female)
- Race (represented by 3 contrast codes: White vs. Minority, Other/Mixed vs. Black/Asian, Black vs. Asian)
- Hispanic ethnicity (yes vs. no)
- Region of the United States (represented by 3 contrast codes: South vs. elsewhere, Northeast vs. Mid-west/West, Mid-west vs. West)
- Educational attainment (min = less than high school graduate, max = professional or doctorate degree)
- Religiosity (based on frequency of attendance at any religious institution; min = never, max = more than once/week)
- Political orientation (degree of self-reported conservativism vs. liberalism)
- Everyday animal-related behaviors (all yes/no)
- Has a companion animal
- Veg*n diet
- Animal appreciation hobby (bird-watching, whale-watching, or animal photography)
- Animal destruction hobby (fishing or hunting)
- Other charitable interests (whether respondent has donated to charities for each of the following causes; each is yes/no)
- Local social services; places of worship; health; children; military troops/veterans; emergency relief efforts; fire, police and emergency rescue; environmental or nature conservation; elderly; youth development; formal education; arts; victims of crime or abuse; election campaigns; human rights and international development
- Donation methods used previously (whether respondent has used each of the following donation methods; each is yes/no)
- By mail; by phone; via charity’s website; via a social networking site; at a fundraising event; in person at a charity’s location; via a text message/SMS; on the street or at your door; through a bequest in your will, charitable giving annuity, or similar; by making a purchase from a charity (e.g., a merchandise shop); by making a third-party purchase; by adding a donation to your bill at a store checkout; via a cash donation box at a store checkout
For each outcome variable, we conducted three stepwise Multiple Regression (MR) models. These were linear MR models when the dependent variable was a scale variable, and binary logistic MR models when the dependent variable was a binary, nominal variable.
In Step 1 of all three models we added the 13 demographic variables simultaneously.
In Step 2 we entered one of the other three sets of predictor variables:
- Regression Model 1 included the 4 predictor variables representing everyday animal-related behaviors,
- Regression Model 2 included the 15 predictor variables representing whether or not participants had also donated to each of several other (non-animal) causes in the past 12 months, and
- Regression Model 3 included the 13 predictor variables representing participants’ donation methods from the past 12 months.
By entering the demographic variables at Step 1 and the other, related predictors of interest at Step 2, we could examine the independent effects of each demographic variable (e.g., the effect of age, regardless of income) and the effects of the Step 2 variables, regardless of potential demographic influences (e.g., the effect of a veg*n diet, regardless of age).
Note that none of the outcome (dependent) variables were redundant with one another (rs ranged from |.02| to |.25|). In other words, each outcome variable represented a largely distinct construct. Similarly, in each step of a given MR, none of the independent variables were redundant with one another (all Tolerance >.568 and VIF < 1.762), thus the analyses did not suffer from multicollinearity.
The SPSS syntax files used to conduct these analyses are available on the Open Science Framework