Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why Our Hen House?

One of the perks of working for VegFund is that we get to work with some of the most dedicated and innovative individuals and groups out there. One of our favorites is Our Hen House.

Recently, OHH ED Jasmin Singer replied to an interested individual:

You may have noticed that OHH is basically a stealth vegan advocacy organization. But I wanted to point out that we reach far beyond just the vegan choir in our media outreach (e.g., all our stories, podcasts, etc., aren’t solely about veganism). Rather, our goal is to use our stories, podcasts, TV show, FB and Twitter posts to catch the attention of animal lovers and do-gooders of all sorts. Once we bring them in, they’re then exposed to the vegan message. Not in an in-your-face kind of way, but in a “come along with us” fashion that allows people to evolve while being a part of the supportive, friendly OHH community.
Related to that, we have found that the sense of community OHH provides is essential for people to go vegan and to be active (see a few sample quotes/testimonials below).
As you are no doubt aware, years ago, Matt Ball (a member of our Advisory Board) wrote about how the vast majority of people who stop eating animals eventually go back. (Backed up by the HRC study this year.) This study was also the subject of our podcast a few weeks ago. This distressing fact led to some deep thinking and reevaluation. We can’t just keep throwing the reasons to go vegan at the public and leave it at that. Clearly, that doesn’t work; it is just running to stand still, and, in the end, a waste of our limited time and resources.
The depressing ongoing rate of veg recidivism is clearly a sign that our movement needs to rethink our efforts for the animals. I’ve been an advocate for a long time, and I knew from experience that two of the key factors that led people to revert from a compassionate diet have been: 1. A lack of honest and relevant information, and 2. A lack of a supportive community (again, backed up by the HRC study this year).
Our Hen House is dedicated to addressing both of those issues. First, we always keep in mind that we are talking with a wide variety of individuals, not just long-time vegans. So we strive to give everyone -- especially new people -- relevant and honest information that can help them take their first steps on the road to veganism, and can then foster an environment where they will take the next steps in changing the world for animals. To that end, we work to build a positive, supportive community -- one that includes everyone from a meat-eater trying Tofurky for the first time, to a long-time activist facing burnout. We want to support them, and, in the process, we build strong voices for animals.
You asked about evaluation. As you can see, the OHH model isn’t one of distribution or immediate conversion rates (although our podcast downloads nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013, with that level of growth continuing in 2014). So we’re not the kind of group that chases numbers and short-term stats; our efforts aren’t short term.
Rather, we’re seeking to build the community so that people can go vegan, stay vegan, and be an active part of the long-term process of truly changing the world for animals.
The key to evaluation for us is constant contact with our members. Anne Green, whom we are thrilled to be bringing on as our full-time Director of Operations starting in the New Year, is regularly soliciting and evaluating feedback. As just one example, earlier this year, she put together a poll for our members, so that we are better able to serve our growing community. The overwhelming feedback we received shows that our efforts at building a community have been successful (this is just a small sample):
Jasmin and Mariann give me constant personal support through their podcast. I have no vegan friends/family in my life, and their words of wisdom and encouragement mean more to me than I could possibly say.
When I first went vegan, I felt so alone. The podcast became such a valuable resource. Jasmin and Mariann discussed all the topics that I was aching to learn about. Some nights, I would listen to episode after episode and feel like I was among friends. I truly don't know if I could have made it through those tough, early days without the show.
I was vegan in college and was very much alone in my veganism. I grew to love the OHH podcast, listening to episodes almost constantly. It was just what I was looking for, a perfect mix of conversation, reviews, and news. Above all, though, OHH provided me a community. Jasmin and Mariann seem to really care about their listeners, they tweet me back, they pour their hearts and souls into doing better by the animals. I just love it.
In the sad world of animal exploitation, the bright light that shines from Jasmin and Mariann is priceless. With great wisdom, creativity, love, knowledge and humor, they constantly bring forth inspiration, tools, and encouragement that help me in my quest to change the world for the better for animals.
I don’t mean to imply that Our Hen House is perfect. Like you and your work, we are constantly evaluating, refining, and experimenting. In 2014, based on Anne’s survey, we have pruned away things that weren’t as important to our members, so we can focus our limited resources where they have the biggest impact. We will continue to do so in 2015 and beyond.
It really does come down to our slogan. Like you, we don’t want to simply provide the animals a voice. Rather, we want to be the place where people can come to change the world for animals, where they can get the information, tools, support, and inspiration to create real and lasting change.

You can become a member of the Flock and build their important community by visiting OurHenHouse.org. Before Jan. 1, all donations will be doubled!

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