Measuring the impact of the RSPCA’s fox hunting prosecution on the charity
Last month, the RSPCA successfully prosecuted members of the Heythrop Hunt. However, there was a backlash after it emerged the charity had paid £326,000 in legal costs out of its own coffers but the fine for the hunt was less than £7,000. What impact has the RSPCA’s strident and more campaigning style had on the way the public views it?
The buzz around the RSPCA
We have tracked the public’s perception of the RSPCA as part of our CharityIndex. Since the start of December the Buzz around the organisation - a composite score based on the percentage balance of people who reported hearing good versus bad news about the charity – shows a clear and steady decline. The high point came on the 19 December – just after the Heythrop Hunt judgement – when the RSPCA had a buzz score of 8.7. However, as information about the legal fees and subsequent media stories about the organisation came out, the buzz score declined until it reached its low point of -0.1 on 16 January.
During this time, the papers favoured by middle England – notably the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail – started publishing unflattering articles looking into the organisation. Only time will tell if all publicity is good publicity for the RSPCA. However, given the negative stories it has generated over the past month in the aftermath of Heythrop suggests that it isn’t.
This is an abridged version of a longer piece written exclusively for Third Sector. The full blog can be read on the Third Sector website