How Can Charities Discuss Animal Research: A Guide

The Association of Medical Research Charities and Understanding Animal Research in the UK have recently jointly produced a booklet aimed at helping charities discuss the animal research they carry out or fund. So what is the guide about?

This guide is designed to help medical research charities answer the questions from the public about the use of animals in research.
People may have specific questions about research using animals: how and why the research is funded; what charities are doing to find alternatives; what conditions animals are kept in; how this research is regulated; what it helps us find out. This guide suggests some ways that charities can answer these questions and where they can direct people who want to find out more.

Broadly, the guide covers three main areas. It does this by taking examples of best practice from UK medical research charities to illustrate its key points.

  • Being Prepared – what charities should do in advance to help them provide the public with the information they need. This includes writing a position statement on animal research, having case studies ready and establishing a process and protocol for responding to enquiries.
  • Answering Questions – how charities can best respond to individuals asking questions by email, phone and social media. It also covers responding to negative publicity in newspapers and how to deal with campaigns and protests.
  • Opportunities to tell people more – how charities can proactively provide more information about their work such as on their website and in press releases.

The case studies throughout include example letters and position statements from charities, and bits of advice from charities who have been effectively communicating their animal work. See such a case study below:

Cancer Research UK Case Study

So why is such as guide needed? While many charities have done good work explaining their animal research, many could benefit from the extra guidance.

US medical research charities (who the guide was not aimed at, but can still benefit from) are far behind their British counterparts in discussing their animal research. By going to five of the largest US and UK medical research charities’ websites and using the search bar to look for “animal testing” and “animal research”, there was a clear and stark difference between the two countries as to the existence of a clear statement on animal research.

Charities Statements
The links at the bottom are for the UK Charities’ statements on animal research

For any charity wanting to do more to explain the important research it does, I defiitely suggest downloading and reading the aforementioned AMRC-UAR guide to “Talking to the public about animal research“.



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