“We forgot about the donkeys!” An institutional analysis of the shift in animal welfare from direct implementation towards advocacy-based programming

Emily Haddy*, Leanne Proops, Faith Burden, Zoe Raw, Juliane Kaminski, Julia Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

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Shifts from direct implementation to advocacy-based programming have been documented across many non-governmental organisation (NGO) sectors, including animal welfare. Semi-structured interviews with 32 staff from different positions within animal welfare NGOs explored recent programming changes. Maintaining a balance between direct implementation and advocacy-based activities emerged as a strong theme. The findings suggest that risks are associated with both the direct implementation status quo and transitioning to an advocacy-based focus. Risks of the former include treating symptoms rather than root causes of welfare problems. Organisational change can be disruptive and necessitates realignment of core competences, in turn influencing NGO mission. Identified risks of transition include loss of individuals whose values fail to align with new programming directions, increased upwards accountability requirements for accessing institutional donors and difficulties when phasing out direct implementation approaches. Whilst having to be dynamic, NGOs need to evaluate the risks associated with programming decisions, considering their vision, mission and staff identity in order to ensure that welfare programming is as effective as possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Welfare
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2024


  • Animal welfare
  • institutional analysis
  • NGO
  • organisational change
  • welfare initiative
  • working equid
  • UKRI
  • ESRC
  • ES/Y007417/1

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