A Summary of VegFund’s Findings from a Dialogue with Our Grantees

(Part 6 of 6)

In our final blog of 2016, we summarize the findings we’ve reported over the past five months based on feedback from VegFund’s dedicated grantees. This summary consolidates information we gathered from an online survey and from focus groups we held during 2016. These findings will guide VegFund in 2017 as we enhance and diversify the resources we offer to our grantees.

From our survey, we gathered a general profile of VegFund grantees, including:

  • their occupations
  • the types of outreach they’re involved in
  • audiences they reach
  • their current levels of activist skills
  • resources they’d like to see from VegFund

The areas that we investigated relating to our grantee’s outreach work included:

  • aspects of vegan outreach that are of particular interest to VegFund grantees
  • barriers they face in their outreach activities
  • areas where they could use more support
  • level of comfort with event planning and preparation
  • how they evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach

You can read full details here.

So what did we learn?

Selecting the ideal venue for your outreach event

  • Campus activists have easy access to free venues, but other activists find it more challenging to locate low-cost venues.
  • Having some level of personal involvement with groups and institutions is a significant advantage when it comes to accessing certain types of venues (such as churches and cinemas).
  • Leafleting is free and permitted in most public places, but the impact of this form of outreach is difficult to measure.
  • Weather conditions, volume of pedestrian traffic, and volunteer availability are all important factors to consider when selecting an event venue.
Compassionate Action for Animals - 2015 Vegfest

Compassionate Action for Animals – 2015 Vegfest

Evaluating the impact of your outreach activity

In response to the question “Do you currently conduct any type of evaluation with your audiences to determine your success?,” our findings suggested that less than 50% of VegFund grantees use event evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of their outreach. Activists who are not currently evaluating their activities do have an interest in beginning to. The following information that we gathered may be a helpful start in assessing the impact of your outreach:

Many of our grantees who do evaluate their outreach take a two-step approach to evaluating their efforts:

  • quantifying outreach
  • gathering anecdotal information on quality

Grantees typically use the following information for assessment:

  • consumption of materials: numbers of leaflets distributed, numbers of food samples handed out, types of short videos and documentaries watched, discussion attendance
  • direct feedback: response on social media, attendee comments, signups (email/pledges)
Californian Activists - Campus Food Sampling Event

Californian Activists
– Campus Food Sampling Event in 2016

What are the barriers in your outreach efforts?

When we asked “What would encourage you to reach out to new audiences in your activism?”, a majority of activists reported:

  • more time
  • more financial support
  • more volunteer support

Activists also reported a need to enhance their activism skills — from expanding their presentation abilities to learning how to produce effective outreach content and materials on a budget.

Our grantees note an “above average” confidence in event organization, food preparation, and one-on-one conversations, but a large percentage of grantees felt a lack of skill (below average) in using technology in their outreach and producing materials and content (for example, writing, marketing, videography, graphic design).

What resources do you need to support your outreach efforts?

We asked our grantees what specific skills they feel would be most useful to them in interacting with the public, organizing events, and production/preparation of materials. They noted the following areas

where they feel they could use more training or knowledge:

  • assistance with tailoring messages and approaching the general public
  • coordination and leadership support
  • training in media use/production
  • training in food preparation
  • tips on burnout

We also investigated what mechanisms are of interest to activists to receive this support. The top suggestions were:

  • opportunities for collaboration and exchange information and ideas, such as an online forum
  • an online portal or library: templates of documents such as publicity  flyers, informational brochures, ads; organizational resources; lessons learned and best practices
  • training/workshops on effective activism

Thanks to all our grantees who took part in the online survey and focus groups. Your information is helping us shape the future of VegFund! We look forward to bolstering our support in 2017 based on the information you so generously provided. Keep an eye out for more to come!

You can also help support our vegan activists by making a year-end tax-deductible donation to VegFund.

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Activist Spotlight: GW Animal Advocates, Washington DC

Earlier this year, GW Animal Advocates held a Vegan Ice Cream Sampling event in Washington DC and reached 150 people! Activists served Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice cream and handed out lots of educational literature. VegFund interviewed Susanna Israelsson of GW Animal Advocates to find out more about the event and their other outreach.

GWAAIceCreamEvent

GW Animal Advocates, Washington DC
Vegan Ice Cream Giveaway

VF: What inspired you to get involved in vegan outreach?

GW: I never really truly understood the horrors of the dairy industry until recently.  I think that people don’t realize the amount of abuse that these poor animals undergo, but when I read an op-ed on the subject, that was pretty much the only incentive I needed.  I think of it as a duty to encourage vegan alternatives to help relieve these animals of the abuse.

VF: What other activism and/or vegan events have you been involved in?

GW: Well, I’m a member of my University’s Animal Advocacy group, so I’ve participated in vegan activism at any chance that I get.  We have given out free coffee on campus with soy milk, vegan valentine’s day chocolates and host many other vegan-food themed events to encourage vegan alternatives.  We have a close relationship with Peta2 which helps a ton with funding and literature for these events.

VF: What were some of the common responses and/or discussions you had during this event?

GW: Well, the event was a free giveaway of the new dairy-free Ben and Jerry’s flavors, so a lot of the common discussions revolved around the taste of the ice cream.  This really drew in a big crowd, and people are content and willing to talk about this issue while they’re eating free ice cream- so I found it quite easy.  Mostly I found that people were surprised at how good the alternatives tasted and I also found that people were more willing to talk about veganism if I suggest that they just make a simple change from dairy to non-dairy ice cream instead of urging them to change their entire diets.

 

VF: What was the highlight of this event for you?

GW: The highlight of the event for me was when I was able to talk with a student who had been considering veganism but was afraid of how hard it was.  After tasting the ice cream and talking with me and some other friends working the event, she left with the commitment to try veganism for the summer.

VF: What barriers did you face during the hosting of this event?

GW: I often find that getting people to try vegan food is the biggest issue.  Once they try it, they are much more willing to have a discussion, but up until then they’re afraid that it will taste gross and healthy.  There is such a stigma against veganism- people think it’s elitist and pretentious, but it’s easy and simple and humane, so it’s important to break the stereotypes.

VF: Do you have any quotes / paraphrases from attendees at your event or anecdotes that may be of interest to other activists?

GW: It was just really nice to see everyone so open to trying and sticking with vegan alternatives.  Most people don’t want to hurt animals, so once we introduce them to easy cruelty-free alternatives, it’s all the push they need to cut out certain things from their diet.  I always encourage people to start slow, go with soy milk and dairy-free ice cream first, and then cut out eggs and build from there.  It’s encouraging to see people who never really considered veganism to open up to the idea of vegan alternatives.

We’d like to thank Susanna Israelsson for taking the time to be interviewed. You can also follow GW Animal Advocates on Facebook to keep up-to-date with their latest news!

There are so many ways to inspire people with your outreach efforts, and VegFund would love to help you! If you want to host an event similar to this one within your local community, we may be able to offer you some funding. Please read our Programs Overview for information on the types of grants we offer and how to apply.