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Book Review: Creating More Change for Animals with Animal Impact

There are millions of people who are passionate about helping animals. But passion isn’t enough. Animals need us to use our time and resources in ways that provide the best possible results. So:

How can we create more change for animals?

That’s the core focus of the new book by marketing expert and animal advocate, Caryn Ginsberg. Her book, Animal Impact: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World (2011), is designed to help activists get the most effective results for their limited time, energy, and resources and to transform what effective advocacy means.

Ginsberg highlights the importance of helping people change their behavior through social marketing, which she defines as “using commercial marketing approaches to influence people to voluntarily adopt a behavior that helps animals.” Ginsberg is a long-time consultant for animal protection organizations, helping them bring successful business practices (like social marketing) to advocacy, and in Animal Impact she uses her expertise to guide beginning and experienced activists in reexamining their strategies and strengthening their impact.

Relevant for both personal activism and for grassroots and global organizations, Animal Impact brings essential lessons from the business world to animal advocacy, such as the need to understand people’s motivations, and their focus on WIIFM (what’s in it for me); the importance of gathering data and doing market research; the value of targeting different groups of people in different ways; and the benefit of experimenting, testing, and evaluating.

Ginsberg uses her seven-step ACHIEVEchange system as a framework for illustrating effective techniques and strategies. Chapters outline each element of the system:

  • Action and Audience
  • Create Benefits and Cut Barriers
  • How to Say Something to Someone Instead of Nothing to Everyone
  • I Am Not My Target Audience
  • Education is Not Enough
  • Voice Matters
  • Evaluate, Don’t Guess

and provide clear and helpful insights and examples. Ginsberg also offers tips for “putting it all together” and for “getting started,” as well as resources for more information.

In addition to Ginsberg’s ACHIEVEchange framework, what makes Animal Impact so valuable are the success stories (and lessons learned) from more than 80 leading advocates. Examples span from companion animal concerns, to farmed animal advocacy, to wildlife issues, and more. Which animal photo did the public best respond to in an anti-fur ad? How do we talk with restaurant owners or campus food service staff most effectively about cage-free eggs or more veg choices? What helps people to be more likely to maintain a veg diet? There are dozens of helpful stories that demonstrate the successful practical application of these strategies.

Although Animal Impact focuses on animal protection issues, the strategies and insights are relevant for every activist. With so many global challenges affecting people, animals, and the earth, and limited time to make a difference, Animal Impact is a must-read for anyone wanting to create a better world.