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Q & A: How to Win Friends and Influence People (to Help Animals)

Caryn Ginsberg’s new book teaches animal welfare advocates the tricks of social marketing

  • Caryn Ginsberg helped The HSUS develop effective messaging for its Gulf Coast campaign. Research showed that the most compelling way to urge people to spay or neuter their pets was to link the overpopulation issue to how their own unaltered animals might be contributing to the problem.

People in the nonprofit world often look askance at the bottom-line-driven practices of big business, preferring to focus instead on their desire to make the world a better place.

But Caryn Ginsberg of Arlington, Va., a consultant to animal welfare organizations, believes that shelters, rescues, and even individual animal advocates could all learn a thing or two from the strategies that businesses have developed to influence millions of people to buy their goods and services.

In her new book, Animal Impact: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World, Ginsberg explains how social marketing, which emerged in the 1970s, allowed many businesses to attract and retain customers. Ginsberg shows how animal advocates can benefit from applying social marketing principles to influence people to change their behavior—such as adopting a shelter pet, having their animals spayed or neutered, or choosing to buy more humane products like cage-free eggs.

Ginsberg lays out a seven-step framework, the ACHIEVE change system, to show how to move people through a process of changing their behavior. Each letter of ACHIEVE stands for a different social marketing principle. For example, A is for “Action and Audience,” C is for “Create Benefits and Cut Barriers,” etc. She introduces readers to animal advocates who’ve used these approaches, and delves into the mechanics of successful campaigns.

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