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5 Animal Advocacy Pitfalls to Avoid

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HRC has been working with advocacy groups and individual advocates for more than 12 years to help them maximize the impact of their work for animals. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things about effective animal advocacy as well as the common mistakes that many advocates make. Learn more about those mistakes and how to avoid the same pitfalls yourself. Your advocacy will be improved and the animals will appreciate it.



What's Your Advocacy Style?


There has been a recent groundswell of interest in the different ways that introverts and extroverts process information and socialize. An understanding of these differences can improve self care, campaign planning, and internal communications among animal protection advocates.




Comparing the Effectiveness of Monetary Versus Moral Motives in Environmental Campaigning

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This Dutch study tested motivators in behavior-change campaigns. On questionnaires, and in a subsequent field experiment that tested actions, participants were more motivated by positive self-image and affirmation of personal values than by financial self-interest. Participants responded similarly regardless of their level of concern about issues related to the campaign. The authors note that the use of "greed" incentives may promote social irresponsibility, undermining the overall goals of campaigners. While this study is not about animal protection, some results may be of note for animal advocates.

The Shelter Pet Project - Pet Adoption Topline Research

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[Full Text]

This PowerPoint presentation from The Shelter Pet Project illustrates the step-by-step process of analyzing the problem of pet overpopulation, setting a goal (more adoption from shelters instead of breeders), identifying a target audience, and determining the best way to reach them with the message. Research is applied at each step, and provides many valuable insights (such as differences between dog and cat guardians, regional differences, and the qualities potential adopters associate with shelter animals vs. animals from breeders), as well as guiding goals and strategies.

When Sex Doesn't Sell: Using Sexualized Images of Women Reduces Support for Ethical Campaigns

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This research showed that the “sex sells” approach does not increase support for ethical causes. Two studies were used to explore the topic. In the first, a sample of Australian male undergraduates viewed PETA advertisements containing either sexualized or non-sexualized images of women. Those who viewed the sexualized content showed reduced intentions to support PETA, a result explained by the images’ dehumanization of women. The second study replicated these findings using a mixed-gender community sample from the U.S., and also showed that behaviors helpful to the cause diminished for those who had viewed the sexualized advertisements.

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

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The Humane Research Council is a very different kind of animal group. We save animals by helping advocates be more effective and use their limited resources as wisely as possible. Our work helps lift all animal protection efforts to new levels through our free resources, deeply discounted services, and collaborative research studies. Please be a part of this important mission by making a contribution to HRC today so we can continue providing live-saving research.

What small animal group will we help next?

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Grassroots advocacy is the heart and soul of the animal protection movement. But small animal groups are sorely underfunded; they rely mostly on volunteer time and donated resources. We’re excited to announce that HRC will be accepting new applications for the Grassroots Research Fund starting in January! But we can’t do this alone. We’re committing $2,500, but we urgently need your help to match that amount to provide another grassroots project in 2014. Can you donate today?

The Role of Professionalization Regarding Female Exploitation in the Nonhuman Animal Rights Movement

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This article explores the objectification of women in the animal protection movement. Author Corey Lee Wrenn critiques People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and others for exploiting female sexuality and stereotypes in an effort to drum up support for the cause. Wrenn focuses on the phenomenon of “professionalization” by exploring the dynamic of the exploitation of female volunteers for the financial benefit of established animal protection organizations. Wrenn finds fault with this approach from both a moral and strategic perspective.

2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

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This report provides benchmarks on a number of topics related to online performance—advocacy, email messaging, fundraising, social media, and text messaging programs—that may be of interest to animal protection organizations. The study’s data (from the 2012 calendar year) comes from 55 U.S.-based national nonprofits of varying sizes that represent a number of issue areas including animal protection. Findings are presented by sector and nonprofit size to help organizations find practical benchmarks for their work in these areas.

Resonance of Moral Shocks in Abolitionist Animal Rights Advocacy: Overcoming Contextual Constraints

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This article examines the use of shocking depictions of animal suffering and its role in recruiting for the animal protection movement. Results of a literature review indicate that the effectiveness of graphic depictions of suffering—particularly by those who advocate solely for the elimination of animal exploitation (as opposed to its amelioration)—is still up for debate and is likely influenced by a number of complicating factors. This study touches on important strategic implications for advocates.


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