Helping Us Help YOU

Findings from a VegFund Dialogue with its Current and Past Activists (Part 1 of 6)

Welcome to a new VegFund blog series!

VegFund recently dialogued with some of our current and past grantees about how you, as activists, can get the most from our grant programs and how we can best support your outreach efforts.

Activists engaging students

Activists engaging students

Starting with this blog as a part of a continued series, we’ll report what we learned from our grantees from an online survey and a series of focus groups we held around the country. We’d like to share with you what the survey revealed about:

  • aspects of vegan outreach that are of particular interest to VegFund grantees,
  • barriers they face in their outreach activities, and
  • areas where they could use more support.

We plan to bolster our support so that you can be as effective as possible in conveying the value of vegan living.

To introduce this series, let’s take a look at the methodology behind the research and examine a profile of the VegFund grantees who provided this useful data.

We emailed an online survey to our grantee contact list via Survey Monkey. Activists responded to questions relating to:

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

These questions helped us gather much-needed information to move forward with improving our activist support.

Following the online survey, VegFund invited grantees from some of the most active outreach regions in the United States to meet with our staff for a series of in-person focus group sessions. Twenty-two activists attended sessions in New York; Washington, DC; Chicago; San Francisco; and Los Angeles during the months of March and April 2016.

While these findings are based on feedback from a relatively small sample of VegFund grantees, they provide a helpful profile of the activists currently utilizing VegFund support and the audiences they’re targeting.

What We Learned

Our research into VegFund grantee profiles presented us with a mix of findings, some of which reaffirmed our initial expectations; others took us by surprise!

The age ranges of VegFund grantees who participated in our research are shown in Figure 1. Figure 2 reveals their gender distribution. Prior to carrying out this research, we expected the largest age range to be college-age (18–25) and 50-plus to be the smallest. However, our findings showed something quite different. As you can see, age range was well distributed overall, but college-age (18–25) comprised only 18% of grantees, whereas grantees in the 50-plus age range made up 27% of our respondents. The gender difference was not a surprise, but the magnitude of it was, with 81% of grantees identifying as female.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

In our survey, we inquired whether respondents are employed by animal rights and animal welfare organizations (AR/AW), employed elsewhere, students, or retired (Figure 3). This data is close to what we expected it would be, with the largest proportion of grantees being employed outside of AR/AW.

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Figure 3

For some further insight into the employment status of our grantees, we also gathered data on the nature of their involvement in activist groups. The results are presented in Figure 4. Clearly, volunteers are a major force in vegan outreach efforts.

Figure 4

Figure 4

And finally, the types of audiences reached by our grantees through various forms of outreach are shown in Figure 5. The general public was by far the highest at 86%. We were please to see this result — a welcomed indication that our grantees are reaching new audiences!

Figure 5

Figure 5

This information generously provided by our grantees is invaluable in helping us understand how to better help YOU. Thanks to all who contributed!

In the next few articles, we’ll explore questions such as:

  • What criteria do you consider when seeking the perfect venue for an event?
  • How do you go about evaluating the impact of your outreach activity?
  • What are the main barriers in your outreach efforts?
  • What resources would be good in supporting your outreach?
  • What are your current perceptions of VegFund?

Send us your thoughts and experiences as a vegan activist, and be sure to check with us next month for more findings from this valuable research!

 

Finding Connection In Our Communications

The first few words we communicate with another person are critical in the development of our future relationship with that person. The same is true when we, as activists, speak out for the voiceless with our message of compassion.

As animal advocates, we want to encourage people to start to think in new ways about their food and to be receptive to learning about the realities of animal agriculture. We must offer information in a way that doesn’t shut them off from us. The first stage of communication as activists is fragile. This applies both to on-the-ground outreach and online outreach. It’s worth spending some time honing your skills in effective communication.

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 Consider implementing some of the following tactics in your advocacy work:

  • Refer back to how you felt in your first conversations about animals used as food. When you were first learning out about the realities of the animal agriculture industry, you, no doubt, experienced a whirlwind of emotions. Try to remember how you felt and reacted at the time. Speaking with heartfelt empathy establishes a level ground and an understanding between you and the other person.
  • Avoid creating an “us vs. them” scenario. Passion for the cause can make it difficult for us to suppress our anger and frustration, but when we represent the movement, we should keep the animals foremost in our thoughts and remind ourselves that a calm and rational approach is likely to gain more ground than confrontation.
  • Use language that is understandable by the majority. Although academic language has its place when discussing an issue in depth, most of the time it’s best to stick with everyday language. Speaking naturally and conversationally helps ensure that our message will be understood.
  • Focus on drawing people into discussion and understanding, rather than presenting an all-or-nothing scenario. A strident or insistent approach is likely to alienate someone who is new to animal issues and may even shut them off entirely. Many people are receptive to considering a vegan lifestyle after a single informative conversation, so don’t scare them off before you’ve had a chance to find out if they are! Those who aren’t quite ready to make that step may still be open to taking the first steps — and each step matters.
  • Note that it’s perfectly okay to recognize the concerns of non-vegans – in fact, it usually helps to be understanding. Showing empathy for their concerns often helps open their minds to alternatives that will enable them to still make a difference.
  • The basics! Be positive, make eye contact; don’t just speak — listen.

Remember that animals rely on animal advocates. Don’t let ego, pride, or irritation get in the way when communicating your message. Help those who want to learn more feel comfortable doing so. The realities for animals are harsh. We need to take care of one another along the way as we discover and communicate these truths.

Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

Change of Heart by Nick Cooney (Director of Education at Mercy For Animals and Founder of Humane League) is worth checking out if you want to delve into the psychology behind human behavior and the dynamics of communicating our message as activists. You can read a selection of excerpts from his book here.

We would love to hear useful tips from your own outreach experiences. Please share them with us in the comments section below.

References

Latest Vegan News (2015) Psychology Researcher Offers Tips for Positive, Effective Vegan Advocacy. [Online] Available from: http://latestvegannews.com/psychology-researcher-offers-tips-for-positive-effective-vegan-advocacy/#

The Humane League (no date) Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change. [Online] Available from: http://www.thehumaneleague.com/changeofheart/excerpts.htm

VegFund Stretches Its Reach

shutterstock_255413671Human consumption of meat and animal products is forecast to increase exponentially in the developing world and to remain at current levels in the developed economies for years to come. What this means is that we’ll see an increase in the already staggering estimated 156 billion land and sea animals consumed every year worldwide.

In our aspirations to reverse these trends, VegFund is joining efforts with a broad global community of experts in climate change, social justice, natural resource use, technology, and food systems whose cooperation is instrumental in working toward sustainable and compassionate societies.

VegFund is collaborating with these groups in several conference partnerships in 2016. Our new initiatives, launched this April, include our support for and participation in three key conferences that cover diverse global food issues.

At the 2016 Food + Enterprise Summit (April 8–9, attended by 600 people) in New York City, VegFund supported a panel called Funding an Ethical Food Economy: Plant-based Ventures. A panel of experts — David Benzaquen of PlantBased Solutions, Bruce Friedrich of the Good Food Institute, Jody Rasch of VegInvest, and Leslie Barcus of VegFund — addressed the topics of why animal well-being and promoting a healthy environment are fundamental to ethical food systems and how the promise of lab-cultured meats and growth in animal product replacements are fueling private investment to push new vegan businesses and products into the consumer mainstream.

Photograph Courtesy of Clay Williams (© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com)

Photograph Courtesy of Clay Williams
(© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com)

From April 15–17, VegFund staff met many new vegans at the New York Green Festival. The Green Festival Expo is held in several cities throughout the United States and focuses on sustainability and green living. The New York event drew more than 250 exhibitors, partners, and sponsors including the team from the documentary, Cowspiracy. VegFund will participate in five Green Festival Events in 2016 as a means to recruit new activists.

Photograph Courtesy of New York Green Festival Expo 2016

Photograph Courtesy of
New York Green Festival Expo 2016

The third conference, the Food Tank Summit, took place in Washington, DC, April 20–21. VegFund partnered with Food Tank to serve 300 attendees excellent vegan lunches during the event, and VegFund Executive Director Leslie Barcus participated on a panel called Protein for the Planet. An estimated 30,000 people around the world listened in via live-stream to fascinating discussions about the dire need for changes in the global food system to feed a growing planet under stress.

Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

VegFund continues its conversations at this time toward partnering with 10–12 more conferences in 2016 as a part of our new initiatives. We look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people at the upcoming Animal Rights Conference in July 2016.

5 Top Tips for A Successful Pay-Per-View Video Event: Findings from VegFund’s Five-Year Retrospective Study (Part 4)

In this fourth and final part of our Effective Outreach series, we’re looking closer at Pay-Per-View (PPV) video events. In this form of outreach, individuals learn while they earn! VegFund pays viewers to watch a short clip exposing the truth behind the animal industry, from the cruelty of factory farming to environmental destruction.

Our grantees from the past five years have provided really valuable feedback for improving and developing the effectiveness of this type of outreach — and we want to share this information with you!

MFA volunteers, Mid West Northalsted Market Days, 2015

MFA volunteers
Mid West Northalsted Market Days, 2015

PPV inspires discussion! Use videos as an inroad to talk with people in more depth. PPV outreach usually evokes more emotional responses than food sampling or literature-focused events due to its visual element, and asking viewers about their response to a video is a natural way to initiate a conversation. PPV events are also a great way to attract media attention and get coverage about animal-welfare issues.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to eat meat for the rest of the day or ever. Something definitely needs to be done about this.” – PPV viewer response

During 2011–2015, VegFund-supported activists encouraged a total of 58,672 people to view videos on vegan and animal-agriculture-related topics. They also distributed 30,813 vegan food samples and 424,182 pieces of educational literature to event attendees.

The most popular short videos to show to date have been “Farm to Fridge” and “Meet Your Meat.”

The top 3 venues or types of event for activists to host PPV are:

1. University and college campuse

2. Festivals (green, community themes

3. Education days and spaces

5 Top Tips!

1. Event activities and attendance: Many activists favor combining PPV with food sampling and information booths. This combination appears to attract significantly larger crowds that include people who do not wish to watch the video footage. At information booths, some organizations included vegan starter packs or guides.

2. Video length: Four-minute video footage has been the most popular length to show, followed by 11 minutes. A short but informative video appeals to people because it doesn’t take up too much of their time.

3. Common questions to prepare for: Attendee questions often relate to organic meat, cage-free eggs, “free-range” food, current animal welfare laws, and how widespread animal cruelty is. Be prepared with informative answers and, if possible, have literature on hand for attendees to take with them.

4. Booth location: At veg fests, for maximum impact, select booths near companies that provide vegan food. Activists holding PPV events can then easily direct people who are interested in knowing more about food options and products to these nearby booths.

5. Effect of incentives: PPV incentives can be customized for your audience. Many activists have found success with a Cake-Per-View or Donut-Per-View event where full-portion, delicious food is provided instead of cash. When possible, offering the $1 and a food sample seems to work best!

“I enjoyed interacting with the people who volunteered to watch and had not seen footage like that previously because it reminded me of how eye-opening that first exposure to the gruesome truth was for me years ago.” – Compassionate Action For Animals volunteer, Twin Cities Veg Fest

MFA volunteers at USC, Long Beach College Campus, 2016

MFA volunteers at USC
Long Beach College Campus, 2016

Activists find that PPV is an effective tool for engaging people on the topic of farmed animals and prompting them to reflect on their own eating habits.

“Thank you for sharing; very informative.” – PPV Viewer response

“Where can I find vegan recipes?” – PPV Viewer response

If you’re ready to host a PPV event, take a look at VegFund’s Pay-Per-View instructional video and checklist!

We hope the tips offered in this blog series provide useful pointers for your vegan outreach efforts or help inspire new activists to get involved.

Current activists! Send us your success stories so that we can share your experience with others.

Our mission is to support YOUR fabulous work as vegan advocates. Take a look at our Facebook page to see what other VegFund-supported activists are doing. Get inspired to host your own event! We’d love to support you.

And, finally, from all at Vegfund, best of luck with your future outreach efforts. You inspire us.

5 Top Tips for A Successful Film Screening Event: Findings from VegFund’s Five-Year Retrospective Study (Part 3)

Next in our continuing series on tips for effective vegan activism, we bring you tips for holding successful film screenings. Our past grantees have offered excellent feedback from their experiences on how best to: encourage people to attend film-screening events, make your event enticing, and engage viewers on the topic of animal agriculture and veganism.

FMVeg, Minnesota 2015

FMVeg, Minnesota 2015

“It definitely challenged people’s understandings and perceptions of animal industries. I’ve even spoken to a few people who went vegan as a result of the film and subsequent discussion.”

- Compassionate and Sustainable Consuming, 2015: Cowspiracy Screening.

“Many picked up multiple literature booklets and several cried during the scenes of slaughter. … We had a couple approach us after saying they were going vegan, that this is what they needed to see to push them.”

- Vegan Society of P.E.A.C.E : Peaceable Kingdom Screening, 2012.

In the past five years, VegFund-supported activists reached approximately 10,600 people through film screenings. At these events, they also distributed 27,964 pieces of literature, and 20,211 vegan food samples.

5 Top Tips!

1. Films that are particularly effective at engaging their audiences are:

  • easy to grasp
  • include reliable data
  • moving, yet have minimal graphic footage.

2. Q&As after film screenings are popular, particularly those featuring film directors.

3. Events with a smaller number of viewers were reported to be more personal and engaging, with grantees having more conversations with attendees at these events. But, it’s always important to weigh the value of reaching more people versus having more one-on-one contact, and this will vary depending on the sort of event being held

4. Introductions to film screenings were well received and helpful for those who were unsure of what they would be viewing.

5. Attendees enjoy offers of vegan food samples, veg starter kits, and information on vegan living at these events. Veg starter kits appear to have been particularly popular among attendees.

Lean and Green Kinds 2015 – Ethical Eating Mini Film Festival

Lean and Green Kinds 2015
Ethical Eating Mini Film Festival

In the past five years of VegFund screening grants, documentaries that contain highly graphic content relating to animals are sometimes shown, but grantees have tended to steer away from these types of documentaries due to more negative responses from viewers.

Documentaries with content substantiated by facts and statistics were appreciated by grantees and attendees, as were films that appeal to both younger and older people. Of course, the films available and suitable for screenings have changed over the years, but some of the most popular films from 2011 to 2015 were:

“The film was very well-received and the students and others participating in the discussion said they learned a lot and were excited to make changes to their diets and contact national environmental groups to ask why they aren’t mentioning animal agriculture as a huge contributing cause to climate change.” – VegBoone’s screening of Cowspiracy in 2015.

“Audience commented that they enjoyed the film more so than other animal rights films they had seen, because it presented the issues in an easier-to-grasp light.” – Moncavage’s screening of Vegucated in 2012

“We had many people with questions afterward and even a guy looking for support because he just went vegetarian two weeks ago after his son showed him Forks Over Knives.” – Daytona Beach Vegetarian Society’s screening of Forks Over Knives in 2011.

Peaceable Kingdom, Speciesism, and Ghosts In Our Machine have also been popular choices. Many activists reported that viewers consider these films to be accessible to all ages and have fewer graphic scenes than they would have expected from animal-rights-themed documentaries.

“The Forks Over Knives screening was a HUGE success. We had 266 people RSVP on Facebook and another 25+ respond to us via email. The response was phenomenal. We gave out many VSR applications and all the literature was gone!” – Vegetarian Society of Richmond’s screening of Forks Over Knives, 2013.

As you can see here, activists are organizing film screenings as a tool to engage people on the topics of animal agriculture and the link between their dietary habits, and they’re receiving emotional and proactive responses! VegFund provides a film screening checklist on their website, along with various other resources to help your event be a hit!

Coming next: The final part of this series (part 4) offers tips for getting the most out of your Pay-Per-View video events. Don’t miss it!

5 Top Tips for A Successful Vegan Food Sampling Event: Findings from VegFund’s Five-Year Retrospective Study (Part 2)

VegFund recently carried out a five-year retrospective study of our three main grant programs — Food Sampling, Film Screenings, and Pay-Per-View video events. We’re sharing some of our findings with you in a series of blogs on tips for effective activism.

Vegan Club, California

Vegan Club, California

In this installment, we present helpful tips for a successful free vegan food-sampling event. We looked at feedback from our past grantees, who offered excellent information on what worked best for them when engaging people about vegan food choices. The majority of our grantees opt to include food sampling in their activities, and they report enthusiastic responses from non-vegans:

“Many of them never before ate vegan food, and all of them loved it.”

“People commented how great the taste and texture of the strips were and couldn’t believe the samples were vegan….”

Who can resist a chocolate cupcake? Food, especially when it’s free and appealing to the eye, never fails to draw people in. And, vegan food is always a brilliant conversation starter! From college events and green festivals to conferences and healthy lifestyle events, food sampling proves to be popular with members of the public.

In the past five years, VegFund-supported activists have reached 351,821 visitors and handed out 405,845 food samples at food-sampling-funded events alone!

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The 5 most popular vegan foods distributed by activists at food-sampling events are:

1. Mock meat products: Tofurky sausages and slices, Gardein Roast, jerky style

2. “Cheese” products: Daiya, “cream” styles

3. Plant milks: Almond, soy, chocolate-flavored

4. Cookies

5. Cupcakes

5 Top Tips!

North Wales Vegans

North Wales Vegans

1. Good-quality mock products, such as meats and cheeses, are most influential. These foods show people that vegans can eat convenience foods that taste good and are easy to find in local grocery stores.

2. Offer literature to people when they’re sampling vegan food so that they have a take-away message — and one that could possibly get passed along. Recipe brochures always prove popular. If people aren’t picking up your informational literature, consider slotting a few of these leaflets into recipe brochures. Check out our blog Selecting Effective Outreach Materials — a helpful reference when choosing the literature to distribute at your event.

3. Social media is a highly effective promotional tool for food-sampling events. Word-of-mouth and encouraging people to bring friends and family can really boost attendance.

4. Themed food-sampling events are popular; for example, holiday themes such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.

5. Focus on distributing a few types of tasty and appealing products rather than a large number of mediocre products. This presentation will be less overwhelming to visitors and more influential when encouraging them to make changes.

“100s of Tofurky samples, Compassionate Choices and coupons were distributed to a receptive crowd. People raved over the Tofurky and asked where they could purchase it. Several people had remarked that they had seen it in the stores and were interested to try it. Many people thanked us for being there!” – Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Holiday Food Sampling Event

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Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira

Depending on your audience and venue, there are some especially effective ways to engage people with your message. As you can see here, activists are using vegan food sampling as a tool to urge people to consider making changes to their dietary habits, and they’re receiving positive — even enthusiastic — responses!

VegFund offers more food and recipe suggestions for your food-sampling events here.

Coming next: Part 3 of this series on tips for getting the most out of your film-screening events.

8 Tips for Effective Animal Advocacy: Findings from VegFund’s Five-Year Retrospective Study (Part 1)

Our mission is to support YOUR fabulous work as vegan advocates.

We recently carried out a five-year retrospective study of our three main grant programs — Food Sampling, Film Screenings, and Pay-Per-View video events. In doing so, we consolidated valuable information supplied by our grantees in their feedback that could bolster the effectiveness of future outreach efforts of all vegan activists.

This installment is the first in our series of tips for effective animal advocacy. These tips will offer helpful pointers to maximize your effectiveness in communicating your message to as many non-vegan people as possible.

In this blog post, we’ve highlighted techniques commonly practiced by advocates that have received particularly positive responses.

Kindred Spirits Care Farm, Food Day LA 2015

Kindred Spirits Care Farm, Food Day LA 2015

Food Sampling

  • Food is always a brilliant conversation starter!
  • Food sampling events that coincide with another event, such as a vegan- or animal-welfare-themed film screening, festival, or conference have more impact and reach a higher number of people.
  • Offering literature to people who are sampling food gives them a handy takeaway. Recipe brochures are very popular.

Check out our blog Selecting Effective Outreach Materials —a helpful reference when selecting the literature to distribute at your event.

Film Screenings

  • Q&A formats are popular, particularly when they include film directors, activists, or people involved in the subject matter of the film.
  • Events advertised in advance via social media, in local cafes or community centers, on campuses, and through leafleting busy streets, have a higher turnout.

Pay-Per-View (PPV) Video Events

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Mercy For Animals, US
Atlanta Pride Fest 2015

  • PPV, where viewers are offered a small cash or food incentive to watch a video, is a fantastic discussion-raising form of outreach. Use it as an inroad to conversing with people in greater depth.
  • PPV incentives of 1) cake-per-view, 2) more than $1, or 3) $1 plus free food were far more popular than those offering only $1 incentives.
  • When PPVs are combined with food sampling and information booths, they attract larger crowds because not everyone wishes to watch the video footage.

Feedback from grantees on the success of their events using some of these tactics included comments such as:

“Many of them never before ate vegan food, and all of them loved it!”

“It definitely challenged people’s understandings and perceptions of animal industries …”

Comments from people who attended events held by VegFund-empowered activists included:

“I don’t think I’ll be able to eat meat for the rest of the day or ever. Something definitely needs to be done about this.”

“I’m definitely going to eat less meat now.”

Depending on your audience and venue, there are some especially effective ways to engage people with the animal rights and vegan message. Following this introductory blog, we will present in-depth information on proven techniques for each of VegFund’s grant programs based on feedback from activists around the globe, so stay tuned for lots of great information on food sampling, film screenings and pay-per-view outreach!

And lastly, thank you to all VegFund grantee activists who shared their event feedback with us. You have made this blog series possible.

Coming next: Part 2 of this series offers some great tips on making the most of your food sampling events.

Angels and Activists

VegFund is a solid choice for sustaining your donor contribution and maximizing your impact in increasing vegan outreach around the world. Learn more by following the “12 Days of VegFund” on Facebook. Please “Like” us, and join the effort! The VegFund staff and our global activist base are grateful for donations made through our website. Each contribution, large and small, helps us grow beyond the thousands of activists we are already reaching in some 30 countries.

Speaking of sustainability and impact, VegFund recently sponsored a panel titled “Exponential Sustainability: The Payoff of Vegan Living” at Sustainatopia 2015. Sustainatopia is a bi-annual event for knowledge-sharing by more than 500 impact investors, social ventures, nonprofit organizations, corporations, media outlets, and others working to create a more sustainable, healthier, and compassionate world.

The VegFund panel addressed how vegan diets and lifestyle choices yield a great return on investment to maximize the well-being of people, biodiversity, and the earth’s environment. The VegFund panel included Caroline Wimberly of Brighter Green, David Benzaquen of PlantBased Solutions, and Leslie Barcus of VegFund.

The VERY FIRST person we encountered at the conference by VegFund was a young man, who works for a small corporation promoting green energy solutions. He was passionate about protecting the environment and lowering his carbon footprint, but he only recently had realized the difference he can make by adopting a vegan diet. The documentary Cowspiracy motivated him to make the dietary switch. We hope this newly inspired environmentalist and vegan will soon join the VegFund activist network and help us expand our reach to new audiences working on social finance, climate change, sustainable development models, organic and local farming, and all of the fascinating practice areas in play making the world a better place.

David Benzaquen of PlantBased Solutions proved that potential activists such as this young man could land in the good company of renowned global business leaders who are funding vegan products. PlantBased Solutions now works with six vegan venture funds and some 480 angel investors. Angels are not found only during the holiday season! In the investment world, “angels” are investors who offer funds to start-up and young companies at gentler investment terms than those offered by more established venture capital funds.

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Vegan investors and angel investors are walking among the international business gods! David also made note of a number of billionaires who are taking a financial position in vegan products, including:

  • Bill Gates … no introduction needed? OK, he is the founder of Microsoft, and his wealth now stands at an estimated $80 billion dollars, according to public wealth rankings.
  • Li Ka-shing … yes, you can think “cha-ching”! Mr. Li was ranked in 2014 by Bloomberg as probably the wealthiest entrepreneur in Asia.
  • Marc Benioff … founder of Salesforce and, thus, a godfather of cloud computing.

David reminds us that regardless of our place and stage in life today or readiness to invest, each and every one of us can vote with our forks and speak up to educate others. You just never know who is listening!

VegFund is here and ready to assist with your vegan outreach through our grant programs, from video event to food sampling, documentary screening — or whatever novel outreach idea you may have that would merit a financial grant.

We look forward to receiving your contribution in 2015 and expanding our outreach in 2016.

ALL support large and small has a big impact for spreading the beauty of vegan living.

Happy Holidays! Leslie Barcus Executive Director

VegFund Ventures to UK Veg Fests!

VegFund attended London VegFest and the Northern Vegan Festival in Manchester this October to meet with vegan activists from around the globe.

Find out more about VegFund’s programs to support vegan activists across the globe, and help us reach out at more events like these during 2016 by donating to support our work.

Back to the UK Veg Fests… Amanda Riley, VegFund’s Operations Assistant based in the U.S., traveled across the pond to attend these events and spread the word about VegFund’s grant programs to support the work of grassroots activists.

Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

Photograph Courtesy of VegFest UK

London VegFest, Europe’s largest vegan festival, attracted 12,000 attendees over the two days of the event. Along with information booths and tantalizing foods, the festival featured a Health Summit and an Activist Summit that offered attendees a diverse program of talks on vegan-related issues and topics. As part of the Activist Summit, Amanda presented a talk on cost-effective activism: “How a Little Money Can Make a Big Difference.”

This talk highlighted the value of focusing on a low cost per person as means of reaching as many people as possible within a budget. Amanda provided activists with helpful tips, among them:

  • Estimate your reach and don’t pay for more than you need.
  • Ask for donations and discounts for your expenses, such as literature and food samples. You might be surprised what organizations and businesses are open to offering you!
  • Do comparison shopping for the items needed for your event, ensuring you are getting the best price possible.
  • At your outreach events, provide people with follow-up opportunities to maximize your impact. For example, offer them a leaflet linking to a website.
  • Make use of VegFund’s online advertising program. Online advertising is a low-cost form of advocacy with the potential of reaching a large audience. For example, one of VegFund’s grantees reached more than 38 million people through their online ad, with more than one million of these requesting a vegan starter kit as a result!
  • For larger events, refine your strategy to make the most of your available budget.

Food Sampling Outreach:

  • Stick to small sample sizes.
  • Limit the number of types of food offered to a few good quality products.

Video Outreach:

  • Seek good-value venues that enable you to reach as many people as possible for a reasonable cost; for example, a $150 venue capable of holding 1,000 people.
  • Try to estimate your audience size accurately to ensure license costs are kept to a minimum — this can be a big savings point.
  • Promote your event! Don’t neglect this area, and keep in mind that lots of promotion can be done at zero cost via social media channels.

You can listen to Amanda’s full talk here.

The Northern Vegan Festival attracted 3,500 people over the course of the one-day event. Amanda presented a talk titled “Using Microgrants to Spread Veganism around the World” at this festival, providing an overview of VegFund’s international work supporting activists in their vegan outreach. Microgrants, as she emphasized, have the power to reach communities across the globe by funding events and projects that touch hundreds and thousands of individuals at the local level.

Amanda, with the help of volunteers, distributed more than 500 brochures at these festivals, and about 100 folks signed up to find out more about VegFund’s programs. The booths were active all day with truly inspiring conversations from both experienced and new activists who are making a positive change.

VegFund's Stall at London VegFest

VegFund’s Stall at London VegFest

Thank you to everyone who came by to say “Hi” and listened to our talks in the UK. We look forward to funding your activism in the future!

The Impact of Social Media Presence in Our Advocacy Efforts

Faunalytics’s recent research examining the impact of The Save Movement’s social media presence gives us insight into the value of social media for advocacy.

One of the key findings from this research was that The Save Movement has been able to successfully foster awareness on social media about the individuality and plight of animals raised for food.

Pig SAVElogo

Photograph courtesy of The SAVE Movement

Positive aspects of The Save Movement’s social media presence include:

  • The peaceful, non-violent approach to their online outreach
  • The welcoming attitude when engaging with followers online

The biggest barrier that online followers stated for not finding out more or getting involved was the fear that it would be too emotionally upsetting, which is characteristic of some of The Save Movement’s social media content.

The report on this research also provides a comparison of how vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores receive this movement’s social media messages. This helped to identify differences among the groups of recipients and offer suggestions about how message content can be modified to more effectively engage omnivores.

Although this research examines the influence of only one organization’s impact using social media and the response of just a small proportion of its social media following, it provides interesting insight into the effectiveness of social media in our outreach efforts.

To deepen our understanding of the value of social media as an outreach tool, further studies on a variety of organizations’ and individuals’ outreach efforts should be carried out.

We need to measure our levels and types of engagement frequently and consider the outcomes of our efforts whenever possible if we are to change the world for animals.

Read the full report on this latest research.

Additional research related to this topic is available on Faunalytics’s website. The article on Facebook as an outreach tool is particularly interesting.