What You Think About Us: 2020 Community Survey Results
Faunalytics is a small team with our hearts and minds set on making a big difference. One thing that we’re particularly proud of is being data-driven — from how we conduct our research to how we measure our impact, we look to the numbers rather than our feelings to understand whether we’re on the right track or not.
This approach is a big part of the reason we pay close attention to our community survey results. We use the responses in a variety of ways, and we find the numbers invaluable in deciding how we should move forward. This spring, we conducted one of our most wide-reaching community surveys yet, with over 400 respondents providing detailed feedback on what we do, and how well we do it.
Below, we look at the characteristics of who responded, some key quantitative and qualitative highlights of this year’s survey, and what they mean for us going forward in the short- and- long terms.
A Bit About You
Our survey included a variety of questions to get a better sense of who we were hearing from. According to your responses, 29% of our feedback came from advocates working in a paid position in an organization, and 18% were advocates in unpaid positions with organizations. Another 27% of the sample were independent advocates, and 18% were students or academics; 8% chose “none of the above.” 45% of those working or volunteering in a group or company came from an organization with 20 or more people.
When it came to the topics that people were most interested in, we weren’t surprised to find out that the majority of respondents were most interested in animals used for food (40%), and effective advocacy (33%), representing a combined 73% of respondents’ top choices. Companion animals were a relatively distant third, with 10%. It’s worth mentioning here that when it comes to selecting articles for our library, these percentages track very closely with how we set the proportions of the topics we cover. That being said, we try to use our library to be as inclusive as possible, and branch out into issues such as animals used in science, animals used in entertainment, and much more.
16% identified their work as being “completely” part of the Effective Altruism (EA) movement, and 25% said that it was “very much” part of the movement. 14% picked “moderately”, and 8% chose either “slightly” or “not at all.” Almost a third (29%) reported not knowing what the effective advocacy movement was.
Looking at the overall results of the survey, we had some great encouragement that we’re on the right track with our work: 95% of the sample agreed that our work is high-quality. Additionally, 81% thought our work was either “extremely” or “very” valuable. These are strong endorsements. We also found that 95% of the sample said that they would recommend us to others! This type of “word of mouth” is key to expanding our circle.
In terms of the uptake of what we do, 71% agreed that Faunalytics’ work has helped guide their advocacy decisions, and 70% said that our work was “extremely” or “very” valuable in their area of primary interest. This shows good incorporation of our work by a variety of users and causes. This was particularly true for advocates whose primary interest was effective advocacy or farmed animals. Those with other primary interests were still positive overall, but somewhat less so. For our part, we have 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.
63% of respondents agreed that we had helped them or their organization to reduce suffering or save animal lives, 25% chose the neutral midpoint, and 11% disagreed. The relatively higher proportion of people who were unsure or disagreeing may reflect the fact that they may be unsure of their own organization’s effect — for example, only 50% of those at academic institutions agreed with the statement.
Meanwhile, 74% agreed that our work improved their or their organization’s advocacy efforts; only 7% disagreed. In this case, the highest proportion of agreement was among unaffiliated advocates (82%) and the lowest was among volunteers in organizations (66%). Future evaluations could follow-up with volunteers to understand this perception — could part of this be related to their estimate of their own effectiveness within the organization, for example?
The resources most often used were our email alerts and newsletters (73%), library summaries (60%), and original research (58%). About a third of respondents used the Research Advice part of the website and the Fundamentals, each, and pro bono office hour/email support usage was at 10%. This shows a good spread of resources used, and matches up with a heuristic sense of their relative importance, though we may be able to do more to increase the use of our capacity-building resources.
Most people were satisfied with the individual resources we provide. In the interest of transparency, however, a non-negligible percent appear to also be “completely dissatisfied” with each resource. This ranged from 4% of respondents for video summaries to 14% for pro-bono support. However, we attribute this relatively high proportion to people reading too quickly, because most people who said they were “completely dissatisfied” with pro-bono support also said that it had improved their advocacy; all of them also had very positive things to say about Faunalytics elsewhere in the survey. This pattern seemed to be repeated across the questions about satisfaction with particular resources. For example, only one or two of the people who said they were “completely dissatisfied” with our original research seem to actually have been so based on their answers to other questions. We will alter the scale endpoints in future years to help prevent confusion among respondents.
In the final section of the survey, we asked respondents to provide feedback on what they love most about our work in their own words. We received over 150 thoughtful responses, many of them focused on what we offer to the animal advocacy community in terms of our programs and resources. The most popular resources mentioned were our Fundamentals, our original studies, the articles featured in our research library, and our weekly research alerts. For example, Mikko Järvenpää from Sentient Media enjoys our research summaries because “not only are they of valuable substance, knowing that Faunalytics stays on top of interesting research saves us time as we can trust them to surface the most relevant research.”
Respondents also commented that they love how we go about conducting our work, mentioning our objectivity and trustworthiness, our rigorous approach to research and data analysis, our accessible writing style, our actionable implications, and our timeliness — or as Tobias Leenaert put it, “I love that [Faunalytics] makes it possible for me to consume research in less time.” We are overjoyed to hear that we’re making progress toward our goal of providing animal advocates with actionable and accessible insights, and doing so efficiently!
We also asked respondents to comment on what we can improve about our resources and communication to be more effective for animal advocates, and we greatly appreciated hearing everyone’s constructive feedback and ideas. In general, there were four categories of suggestions:
- Participants asked us to shift our focus, calling for more resources about international advocacy, policy and legislative advocacy, specific animal groups (especially fishes and aquatic animals), and health.
- We received suggestions to increase our publicity efforts, such as engaging more social media followers, advertising our resources, and promoting our collaborations with other organizations.
- Participants also suggested we add more types of content to our repertoire of resources, asking for webinars, “mini” study summaries, factsheets, podcasts, and more topical research alerts.
- Finally, we received some feedback that we could do more to improve the accessibility of our website and resources.
For our part, we are already moving forward with plans to include more articles related to international advocacy in our library, with a particular focus on non-Western countries where possible. We are also discussing next steps as a team and with the board in order to further improve Faunalytics as much as we can.
Unknown Unknowns, And Going Forward
All of the above is great, but we know that there’s much more to the story: 400 respondents are just a small fraction of our daily, weekly, and monthly website users, not to mention our overall social media following. This means that, while our survey gives us a great picture of those who engage with our work, they don’t show us the full picture. There are many users who haven’t made their voice heard, and it’s never enough for us to just wait until next year to hear from them.
Thankfully, while our community survey has a time limit, we’re always listening. 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 comment on every 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 once again to everyone who provided responses to our survey. We’re actively considering every response and qualitative comment as a team, and we’ve already taken steps to address some of the ideas presented. We look forward to exploring how we can implement these suggestions into our work as we move forward into the second half of 2020 and beyond!