Our mission at ACE is to find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. Trillions of animals experience extensive but avoidable suffering on farms and in the wild, which motivates our team to contribute to a world where all animals can flourish regardless of their species. To work toward this mission, we evaluate and recommend charities, award grants to promising projects, and drive capital in the animal advocacy movement.
We believe there is great value in addressing global poverty and other human-centric causes. Nevertheless, given that our goal is to most efficiently reduce the largest amount of suffering, there is a very compelling case to focus on animals. Animals vastly outnumber humans. To illustrate, almost 60 billion animals are bred and killed for food each year worldwide, compared to the entire human population of 7.13 billion as of December 2013. Furthermore, as evidenced by numerous sources (undercover videos, standard agricultural practices, etc.), the suffering that animals endure—often caused by human self-interest—is enormous. By educating people about how they can best advocate for animals, we contribute to the largest possible reduction of suffering for the largest number of present and near-future living beings.
Thousands of humane societies dedicated to cats and dogs exist across the United States; indeed, intervening on behalf of stray cats and dogs has often been a focal point for animal advocates. We know much about preventing suffering in these contexts—we know how to reduce the spread of disease, how to implement population control measures humanely, and how to place companion animals in loving homes—but this knowledge is counterbalanced by high implementation costs. When you factor in medical care, vaccines, food, shelter housing, and employee costs, it seems unlikely that this is a cost-effective method for alleviating suffering. Additionally, the level of support for efforts on behalf of companion animals is very high relative to other animal causes, which means it is unlikely to have “low-hanging fruit” type opportunities for producing positive change. Because of this, ACE does not currently recommend companion animal shelters as a way to achieve the biggest return on donations
We greatly respect the work done by farmed animal sanctuaries and believe they are an essential part of the animal advocacy ecosystem. However, we also recognize that direct care for animals can be very expensive, so we caution against taking in too many direct rescues when considering how to maximize your impact as an advocate or advocacy organization. We feel that sanctuaries’ biggest value stems from their educational work and that sanctuaries can improve their impact by focusing more on this area. For further reading, please see our blog post about this topic.
ACE proudly maintains a GuideStar platinum seal of transparency and is recommended by many influencers in effective altruism, such as the Centre for Effective Altruism, GiveWell, Giving What We Can, and Peter Singer. We are also grateful to receive financial support from Open Philanthropy and EA Funds’ Animal Welfare Fund.
At this time, we do not suggest restricting donations to our Recommended Charities (though if strongly desired by a donor, a few relatively stand-alone and scalable interventions exist where a restricted donation could work easily, such as sponsoring online pay-per-click advertisements). We have chosen our current recommendations because they effectively use their funding to drive results for animals; therefore, we feel they are in the best position to determine the distribution of donor funds. Furthermore, at this time, we don’t have absolute evidence of any single specific intervention being so superior as to warrant the extreme measure of a restricted donation.
Additionally, there is often a potential issue with fungibility, where donations that are restricted to one area may result in money that would otherwise have gone to that area being reallocated to other parts of the organization. While some charities are able to use restricted donations exclusively to increase the resources flowing to a designated intervention, these are infrequent exceptions. In the future, when we have a better understanding of each charity’s dynamics and if we amass more evidence around the clear superiority of any single intervention, we may consider recommending restricted donations to a charity after confirming that the funds will not be fungible.
In very specific situations where a large group has a smaller division that we endorse funding, we may recommend restricting donations to that specific division if we can confirm that the money will not be fungible.
Ultimately, we aim to direct funds to where they will be used most effectively to help the most animals. We encourage people to donate to our Recommended Charity Fund, which supports our Recommended Charities. ACE also relies on charitable contributions to conduct our comprehensive charity evaluations. We greatly appreciate donations to ACE to continue expanding the effective animal advocacy movement and reducing animal suffering.
We don’t take the prospect of matching donation campaigns lightly. As others have noted, matching donation drives are often used by organizations that would have received the money anyway, thus compromising the authenticity of a matching situation. If a donor offers a large gift, these organizations might request to use the large gift as part of a matching campaign so as to generate additional income. This situation can be morally suspect, as the organization would have received the money anyway, and we don’t endorse matching campaigns that are created in that manner.
However, occasionally a donor comes along who understands the value of non-illusory matching campaigns, and chooses to offer their money to a charity on the condition that they use it in a matching drive. This is how ACE matching drives come to fruition, and we’re happy to report that we only offer genuine opportunities (such as influence matching or coordination matching) to double your donation in our work to help animals.
Yes. ACE is a registered 501(c)(3) charity, and all donations in the United States are tax-deductible. Additionally, non-U.S. donors can qualify for tax deductions to ACE and our recommended charities by donating through the organizations listed on our Tax Deductibility By Country page.
We acknowledge that the mining of cryptocurrency currently consumes a huge amount of electricity. The carbon footprint of cryptocurrency varies significantly based upon the specific type of digital currency, with popular Bitcoin estimated at >700 KWh per transaction compared to <1 KWh for Dogecoin (Popular cryptocurrencies: Which is the most environmentally friendly?). As new cryptocurrencies emerge, developers are turning their attention to sustainability. The Crypto Climate Accord, a private sector initiative, aims to make the cryptocurrency industry’s energy consumption 100% renewable by 2030. We realize there is no guarantee that this sustainability goal will be achieved and that reducing energy consumption is preferable to even green energy production (which also has some potentially negative impacts on wildlife).
While ACE does not take a position as to whether or not people should start getting involved with cryptocurrency, we are willingly providing a charitable giving option for those who already have it and wish to donate a portion to reduce animal suffering. We are not defending cryptocurrency’s carbon footprint, and we may decide to stop accepting such donations in the future based on newly available research. For now, ACE plans to continue to accept donations of cryptocurrency to support our mission of finding and promoting the most effective ways to help animals.
There are thousands of animal charities worldwide, and we seek to identify some of the best giving opportunities for donors. In principle, ACE would consider evaluating and recommending any charity working to help nonhuman animals. However, for practical reasons, we focus on cause areas that we believe are especially promising: those that are large in scale, highly tractable, and relatively neglected. We currently prioritize the following cause areas: Farmed Animals and Wild Animals. You can read more on our cause prioritization page.
No, ACE does not receive any funds related to conducting an evaluation on any one group. We are funded almost entirely by private donations made by individuals who support our overall mission to find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. In addition, we have a donation policy to ensure that we do not face conflicts of interest between our donors and our recommendations.
ACE considers suffering in general; if there is a large amount of suffering and we can take action to prevent it, then we believe that taking such action deserves consideration regardless of the origin. For example, people should certainly help human victims of natural disasters like earthquakes, even though this suffering is not anthropogenic. However, there are some instances of mass suffering of animals for which we don’t currently know of any particularly impactful remedies. If future research suggests a cost-effective way to alleviate suffering on a wider scale than the current viable approaches, we will revise our recommendations based on that knowledge.
Basic consideration is the first step of our evaluation process, where our research team compiles a list of animal charities along with their focus areas to improve our overall understanding of the animal charity landscape. We need to have a sense of the types of animal charities in existence and of how prevalent each is to make strategic decisions about our research in general—as well as the evaluation process in particular. You can read a much more in-depth explanation of our evaluation process here.
Our charity recommendation process involves several sequential stages, with new recommendations being released each year. For the most up-to-date information on this process and how we make our recommendations decisions, please visit this page.
We consider every organization that has requested consideration since the previous recommendation process, as well as most other charities on our list. We do not always consider organizations that provide direct care to animals—particularly companion animal shelters and rescues—because we find that these organizations are usually only able to help relatively few animals with a given amount of resources. We also do not consider charities if, from previous interactions with their leadership, we believe they would prefer not to be considered in our recommendation process. For a more detailed explanation, view our general evaluation process. We do our best to consider as many of the charities working within effective cause areas as possible; if you feel we have missed a potential candidate for our top recommendations, please contact us.
As much as possible, ACE tries to represent and develop the animal advocacy movement on a global scale. For our first round of recommendations using our new criteria in May 2014, we did not consider any international charities. We began considering select international groups with our December 2014 review process, and we have continued to consider international groups since then. While some of our Recommended Charities are registered in the U.S. and primarily conduct their work there, the nature of their work benefits the movement globally. The Humane League, for instance, does a huge amount of movement-building in neglected countries through its grantmaking program as part of the Open Wing Alliance. We also have recommendations and grantees who conduct a vast majority of their work in the Global South. If you feel we have missed a good candidate for our recommendations, please contact us.
ACE offers a unique perspective in the animal advocacy movement by analyzing available data to identify the social efficacy of animal welfare tactics and charities. We hold no stake in any one group or intervention, and our sole interest in promoting the best ways to help animals ensures that we do not hold a bias toward any specific area. We are transparent about every step of our process.
We update our charity recommendations by December 1st of each year. Outside of this cycle, we occasionally update our recommendations if warranted by significant new research or other major changes in reliable information.
Since animal advocacy is a small field (especially when primarily considering those charities focused on effectiveness), ACE does have some prior existing relationships with individuals and charities. However, we have a conflict of interest policy that ensures that we don’t evaluate any organizations where we have serious conflicts of interest. Additionally, we note all existing relationships in two separate pages—one for staff disclosures, and one for organizational disclosures.
We strive to track the amount of donations ACE influences to our recommended charities in several ways. These methods vary depending on the capacity of our Recommended Charities, but include the following:
- ACE recommended charities including a check box on their donation forms asking if ACE influenced the donation
- Adding tracking codes on outbound links from ACE’s website to our recommended charities’ websites to track whether ACE influenced a donation made on their website
- Donors reporting their donations to ACE that they made directly to our Top and Standout Charities because of our recommendation
We then cross-reference names (if available), donation amounts, and dates between the various methods above to avoid duplication. Using these methods, we estimate that ACE has influenced over $34 million in funding to our recommended charities from 2014–2020. More details can be found in our annual Giving Metrics Report.
We’ve addressed frequently asked questions about our Movement Grants on this page.