Published since 1946
Full Report Available from Research Measuring Efficacy of R3 Programs
Recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and anglers is paramount to preserving our outdoor heritage. In June 2022, the Wildlife Management Institute published a synopsis of a recent study conducted under the Multistate Conservation Grants Program to evaluate state R3 programs using a rigorous quantitative approach with the goal of improving the way we recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers. While the earlier ONB story described some of the more significant findings from the research, the full report has now been finalized.
In early years, R3 events were either not evaluated, or they were evaluated using post-event surveys. Later, agencies recognized the need for more rigorous evaluations and began to evaluate R3 events using pre- and post-event comparisons. While this approach is valuable for programmatic evaluation and measuring outputs at the individual level (behavioral intentions), a different statistical approach is needed to measure program outcomes at the population level (ROI and buying behaviors across time). Additionally, evidence indicates R3 event attendees are significantly more involved/avid than the general hunting and fishing public. Therefore, if attendees’ behavior is different after the R3 event, agencies cannot disentangle selection effect (different before the event) from the treatment effect (different because of the event).
We found convincing evidence in all states that R3 events generate customers who churn less (Participation) and buy more licenses (Engagement). Because our study design contained matched-pair lookalikes, who acted as a counterfactual for attendees, we determined R3 event attendees were different (more avid) from the average customer before attending the R3 event, but also were different because of the R3 event. In general, R3 events focused on basic, introductory activities tended to have better Participation and Engagement outcomes, and events focused on advanced techniques, difficult quarry, or using specialized equipment were less effective. In this longitudinal analysis, youth under 18 generally produced the lowest lift in Participation and Engagement, and adults 25-50 generally showed the highest lift. There is some evidence suggesting repeat attendance has a marginal benefit (in Participation and Engagement) over attending just one event. Finally, many attendees (27-93%) purchased a license in a license year before attending the R3 event, suggesting they were already recruited to some extent before attending an R3 event, and much of the gains are compensatory recruitment, rather than additive recruitment.
R3 events are effective in lifting Participation and Engagement, but to increase expected ROI, agencies with limited resources should prioritize adult R3 programs over youth programs. Additionally, agencies should consider screening their events to prioritize individuals new to hunting and fishing and/or first-time attendees. Agencies should also consider deprioritizing R3 events that are not immediately scalable.