New Study Illuminates Giving Attitudes and Behaviors of Animal Protection Donors

Hot off the presses from the animal advocacy research team at Faunalytics — reanalyzing data from Edge Research with support from the Blackbaud Institute — is the one-of-a-kind study, Giving To Animals: New Data On Who And How. The report offers some unique insights into people who donate to animal causes, with the aim of helping to guide animal protection charities’ decisions about how, where, and from whom to solicit donations.

As I discussed in a previous post, “The Case for Animal Protection Funding,” giving to animals and the environment combined makes up only about 3% of total giving — the lowest of any programmatic field. In the interest of elevating this disappointingly low figure and helping fundraisers attract a greater number of donors to animal protection, Faunalytics sought to learn more about the attitudes and behaviors of animal-cause donors (people who donated to animal causes either exclusively or among other causes) versus the general donor population (of which animal-cause donors are a subset).

With Faunalytics’ kind permission, I am including a selection of the tables from the study that I personally found most informative:

Amount Donated by Cause: Animal cause donors do not give exclusively to animal charities. On the contrary, the majority of their giving — more than two-thirds — goes to human causes, including places of worship, local social services (e.g., food banks), children’s charities, and health charities.


When asked to identify the single organization of greatest importance to them personally, only 24% of animal-cause donors named an animal-related organization at all. Of the animal-related organizations named, the vast majority focus on sheltering/protection for companion animals (e.g., dogs, cats, and other common pets). Organizations focused on animal populations other than companion animals received only a small fraction of donations.

Non-Monetary Support in the Past 12 Months: According to the study, approximately one-third of people who donate money to an organization also donate goods/supplies and volunteer their time. Surprisingly, many activities that would be considered a smaller ask, such as petition signing or promotion of an organization via social media, were much less apparent. Given the popularity of in-kind donations among animal-cause donors, Faunalytics recommends, “Animal advocates may want to consider ways to promote and encourage goods-based donations: for example, to sanctuaries, shelters, and rescues. Psychological research has found that asking people for something easy first (like a small donation of birdseed) increases their willingness to do something larger (like donating money) later. This is known as the foot-in-the-door technique.”


Donation Methods Used in the Past Two Years: Animal-cause donors and all-cause donors identified a variety of avenues through which they made financial contributions in the past two years, as compared in the table below.


Giving Habits and Attitudes: Study participants were asked to indicate which of a preselected set of statement choices described them. Based on the results, Faunalytics notes, “Animal-cause donors appear to be above average in their liking for small donations (e.g., at the checkout counter): Almost two thirds (63.8%) say they tend to give this way. Animal advocates might consider looking for more opportunities for this kind of donation. Animal-cause donors are [also] more receptive to direct requests for donations from organizations than people on average: About a third (37.1%) of animal-cause donors say they are more likely to support an organization when approached by friends or family than by the organization itself, versus 44.9% of all donors who preferred to be approached by friends or family. [Additionally] about a third of animal-cause donors (33.7%) said that they prefer to give to organizations that make a difference by changing policies or laws, which is well above average (23.8%). This preference aligns well with the Effective Animal Advocacy movement, aimed at shifting the bigger picture of animal treatment. Finally, it is worth noting that far fewer animal-cause donors are motivated by religion/faith than the average donor is (32.1% vs. 45.3%), although it is impossible to definitively explain why with these data.”


Usage of Popular Online/Social Media Tools: Per Faunalytics’ analysis, “Animal-cause donors were not noticeably different from average in their use of online services: Facebook was the clear frontrunner. Animal advocates who use video advocacy likely already use YouTube, but it is worth considering if not. Use of other services is much less common but including them may get the message to a broader spectrum of users.”


Interestingly, the study found that despite the proliferation of crowdfunding platforms and campaigns in recent years, they were relatively unpopular among animal-cause and general-population donors alike, with only 14% and 9.9% respectively using these platforms.

Faunalytics has made freely available the full text of the study, which includes an executive summary, an explanation of its methodology and population sample demographics, and a complete set of tables and charts illustrating the findings.

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