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Public view of RSPCA cooled in wake of Heythrop Hunt prosecution

Research by YouGov for Third Sector shows that both brand value and a measure called 'buzz' fell in the month after it spent £327,000 on its successful action

The public’s perception of the RSPCA dimmed after the charity’s successful private prosecution of a hunting group, new research shows.

The research company YouGov polled a representative online sample of 125 different people each day over a six-week period from early December.

Participants were asked several questions, such as which charities they had talked about with friends and family and which charities they had heard of.

The results were used to compile a figure representing the "buzz" around an organisation – the balance of people who report hearing good news about an organisation against those who hear bad news about it – and its brand value.

The results show that the brand value of the RSPCA was measured at 5.9 in early December, shortly after the outcome of its successful private prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt was announced, only for it to fall to 0.3 in the first week of January.

The charity was the subject of several negative stories in the wake of the Heythrop case, some of which focused on the  £327,000 that the charity spent pursuing the case.

But the charity’s brand value did begin to rise again by the middle of January and was slightly more than 2.0 on 16 January, when the research ended. The "buzz" around the RSPCA gradually fell from 8.7 on 19 December, just after the outcome of the Heythrop case was announced, to -0.1 on 16 January.

This story is based on the first in a series of monthly articles linked to research carried out by YouGov for Third Sector, which will appear in the magazine and on the website. Each will examine public perceptions of charities that have been in the news.

- See the full research

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