One of our core aims is to critically evaluate our contribution to the animal advocacy space. As a research organisation, it can be difficult to track the impact we may be having as there are several steps in the causal chain before we observe improvements on the ground. At this point, 6 months after the launch of our pilot programme, we are evaluating our work to date and wish to understand the initial perception from this community on our work thus far.
We sent an evaluation questionnaire to representatives from major farmed animal organisations globally. The results of this survey will contribute to our strategic planning for the remainder of this year and support the planning of our next cycle.
We would like to thank all of the respondents for their thoughtful and insightful feedback towards our continual strive for maximum impact.
From this evaluation, it seems that most farmed animal advocacy groups are generally supportive of our multifaceted research approach with most stakeholders agreeing that this avenue of ask formation is neglected. Many leaders in this space have indicated that they would be likely to collaborate with us on the formation of an ask, with some positive additional comments suggesting that leaders have been impressed by our organisation thus far. There are concerns from stakeholders that ask prioritisation would be difficult for an international group, without the in-country experience of cultural and political factors, as well as leaders suggesting we should prioritise supporting asks that multiple groups can use for maximum impact.
"From the single conversation we had I could see the potential for us to use the help of animal ask to help us to define, not only the effectiveness of our current asks, but the formation of new ones"
Ines Ajuda - Programme Manager Farmed Animals, Eurogroup for Animals
We received 19 responses to our evaluation from individuals in Asia, North America and Europe. In the future, we would like to hear from many more individuals across a wider geographic scope to ensure that we are tailoring our work to groups operating in all neglected areas around the world.
Results in Numbers
The questionnaire is split into three key areas
General perceptions: How likely organisations are to work with us and or recommend our services.
Service value and neglectedness: How valuable they deem our work to be and how neglected they believe this area is.
Research Ideas: Any research topics and or services they believe are missing to help us determine the introduction of further programmes and or research.
We asked respondents how likely they were to work with us on a future ask with 53% of respondents indicating that this was either ‘likely’ or ‘highly likely’ and how likely they were to recommend our services to another group with 68.5% of respondents indicating that this was either ‘likely’ or ‘highly likely’.
Respondents were asked to complete this statement: ‘Animal Ask's aim to support the animal advocacy movement with dedicated research is [blank]’ with 47.4% stating ‘highly valuable’ and 36.8% stating ‘valuable'.
Respondents were asked to indicate their opinion on this statement: ‘Research to prioritise and optimise farmed animal welfare asks is neglected in the animal advocacy movement’ with 26.3% stating that they ‘strongly agree’ and 57.9% stating that they ‘agree’, with a combined rating of 84.2%.
63.1% of respondents stated that they could benefit from additional research ‘always’ or ‘often’, with 15.8% choosing ‘rarely’.
There were multiple areas within which we asked respondents to provide us with further detail in order to allow the respondents to expand on their ratings. Within these sections there were recurring themes across multiple respondents that I have summarised below. I have also indicated the action we aim to take following this feedback review, feedback from our first pilot organisation and our internal goal assessments. Whilst this has been a useful indicator of our impact thus far, we will not over update here due to this being a mid-term review and the collaborative nature of the animal advocacy movement who are likely, at this early stage in our formation, to positively review our work due to its neglectedness.
Multifaceted and impact-based approach
It seems that generally, our multifaceted and impact-based process is an approach that many stakeholders are keen to adopt. Within this, feasibility was highlighted as an area that could benefit from further research, with practical and financial implications for farmers and producers and developed knowledge of the supply chain being highlighted as key neglected considerations.
Whilst most respondents agreed that this approach was a useful tool, many were skeptical of the success of such a tool without the required country context within which the ask would be used. This specific country context was highlighted as a ‘significant consideration’, that a group based elsewhere would be unlikely to adequately consider.
Action: We agree that country context is a hugely important context in our decision making. Often asks are eliminated due to their lack of tractability or practicality in a specific region. We will seek more specific examples of information we are likely to neglect without the in-country knowledge to ensure we have a process of including this if we feel that this would update our thinking or process. We are also open to hiring temporary staff in the region if this would support the efforts. It is also our intention to complete field research in-country and visit farms wherever possible - unfortunately, in the pilot, this was not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some respondents wished to see case studies of previous failures and successes to support future ask formation and were sufficiently skeptical of our approach without yet having any tangible victories.
Action: We are considering conducting foundational research on the learnings from previous asks. In terms of our own learnings, we will be publicly sharing the end result of our research with each organisation we collaborate with and any challenges or failures we believe could be useful to future ask development.
Foundational research ideas
Other commonalities included; research to support political lobbying activities and legislative work and research to indicate whether one advocacy method e.g. corporate relations is the most suited to future asks e.g. fish advocacy, based on it’s previous success.
Action: When we are determining our resource allocation, we prioritise based on where we believe we can have the most impact. Depending on the outcome of our pilot research with Advocates for Animals who are seeking a legislative ask, we may deem this area of research to be particularly neglected and dedicate foundational research to furthering this knowledge base or seeking groups to support in the lobbying or legislative space. In terms of advocacy methods, we feel that at the moment, this research is outside of our scope and organisations such as Faunalytics and Animal Charity Evaluators are better positioned to conduct this research.
Other advocacy streams
Indications were also made that the movement could benefit from widening advocacy streams, perhaps considering the environmental or public health angle to raise awareness of animal welfare on a larger scale.
Action: As our predominant aim is to help organisations in optimising their ask formation, we will consider recommending other advocacy streams if they seem particularly tractable. Whilst we may be limited by the stream the organisation wishes to use, we can consider this within our research.
The topic of fish welfare was included multiple times with respondents looking for further research on this topic from both a welfare perspective and advocacy method.
Action: When we are determining our resource allocation, we prioritise based on where we believe we can have the most impact. We do agree that fish welfare is an area that could benefit from additional research resource which is partially the reason we were keen to collaborate with Sinergia Animal on their fish advocacy work. If fish continues to look promising, it is likely that we will complete more research on this topic in the future.
Supporting coalitions or collaborative asks
Many respondents indicated their preference for collaborative asks where one set of criteria is developed that many groups advocate for rather than multiple groups developing multiple asks. They stated that this collaborative approach was the most likely to have the greatest impact.
Action: Following on from this feedback we would like to strengthen our relationships with existing coalitions and highlight both of our services to them, ask prioritisation and consultation, in their future ask formation. We are also considering foundational research on the true impact of collaborative asks versus singular, country specific asks.
Animal Ask are considering offering an Ask Consultation service alongside our Ask Prioritisation programme. This service would give us an opportunity to advise on certain elements of the ask selection process, providing research, template structures and expert opinions to those who are deciding on an optimal ask. As our resource for the full prioritisation service is limited by our staffing capacities, this service gives us the opportunity to help more groups within each cycle. When asked if this service would be of use to the respondents, 68.4% stated either ‘highly valuable’ or ‘valuable’.
Action: This is a good indicator that we should trial such a service and monitor its use alongside our prioritisation programme. We will define and advertise this service from mid-May 2021.
"I feel very optimistic about Animal Ask’s purpose and feel this additional research, expertise and strategic support will be hugely beneficial to any organisation, and to the animal advocacy movement as a whole. I expect this initiative approach will bring new insights and fresh thinking on a bigger picture level."
Abigail Penny - Executive Director, Animal Equality UK