2016 Animal Charity Evaluators Giving Metrics Report
One of our goals here at ACE is to influence donations to highly effective animal charities. Over the last couple of years we have implemented systems to help us track these donations as well as to survey donors who have indicated that they donated to our Top Charities because of ACE’s recommendations. In this report, we will detail what we know about the donations and donors that were influenced by ACE’s charity recommendations. We will also evaluate the impact that ACE has had on donors and on the effective animal advocacy movement as a whole.
- “Top Charities” refers to the (currently 3) animal charities that we believe work most effectively on behalf of animals.
- “Standout Charities” refers to the (currently 10) animal charities that we feel are highly effective and showing promising progress in their efforts on behalf of animals.
- “Recommended Charities” refers to both Top and Standout Charities.
How We Track Money Moved
Midway through 2015, we started collecting donations on behalf of our Top Charities. While this has helped us a great deal in learning how donors use our recommendations, it accounts for just 9% of
the total amount of donations that ACE has influenced to our recommended charities. The remaining 91% of donations are reported to us by those charities or by donors themselves. Twice per year, we ask our Top Charities to report to us on the amount of donations they’ve received that they know were influenced by ACE. Each charity tracks this differently. We think they report the donations that they know were influenced by ACE with a high level of accuracy, though there may be additional donations influenced by ACE that they do not know about because the donor does not indicate ACE’s influence on their decision to give. In January 2017, we started reaching out to our Standout Charities as well to ask if they knew of any donations that were influenced by ACE in 2016. We have also had an increasing number of donors who report to us directly about the giving they did as a result of ACE’s charity recommendations.1
Money Moved to Recommended Charities By Year
Money Moved by Charity
In 2016, our Top Charities received $2,757,922 and our Standout Charities received $816,126. This means that we influenced $3,574,048 to recommended charities in 2016, with 77% going to Top Charities and 23% going to Standout Charities. The average gift that ACE influenced to our Top Charities was $922.2, 3
|ACE Top Charities||Collected by ACE||Reported by Charity||Total|
|Mercy For Animals||$87,979.71||$1,365,642.00||$1,453,621.71|
|The Humane League||$84,795.87||$418,302.00||$503,097.87|
|The Good Food Institute||$28,420.67||$261,656.00||$290,076.67|
ACE’s Standout Charities do not have systems in place to track donations that were influenced by ACE’s recommendation of them. Below are the donations that were known to be influenced by ACE because the donor either told the charity in conversation or the donor reported their giving to ACE. It is very likely that there were additional donations that were made as a result of ACE’s recommendation, but that we do not know about.4, 5
|ACE Standout Charities||Reported by Charity or Donors|
|Albert Schweitzer Foundation||$8,947|
|HSUS Farm Animal Protection||$776,000|
|The Nonhuman Rights Project||$125|
An additional $70,350 was reported by donors and charities to have been influenced to non-recommended charities that were doing effective work in a specialized area that was important to each particular donor. These gifts resulted from personal conversations with ACE staff members with the intent of finding a charity that aligned with the donor’s own goals and that ACE felt was doing very good work in that particular area.
Money Moved by Donation Size
|Giving Category||# of Donors||% of Total Donors||Amount Donated||% of Total Amount|
Donations to ACE
We have seen donations to support ACE’s programs grow steadily over the past three years, nearly doubling each year. Concurrently, we have grown our staff size from 4 people in 2014 to 12 people in 2016.
The majority of donations to ACE came from donors who gave between $10,000 and $49,999 total in 2016, while the one donor who funds our Animal Advocacy Research Fund made up over 20% of our revenue for the year. The average gift to ACE in 2016 was $780.8, 9
|Giving Category||# of Donors||% of Total Donors||Amount Donated||% of Total Amount|
We monitor the number of unique users who visit the ACE website in order to help us track organic growth of our audience. We also feel that this is a probable indirect measure of growth in the effective animal advocacy movement as a whole. Although we do receive a number of visitors as a result of advertising—such as with Google AdWords—we feel that tracking non-paid user growth gives us a more accurate indication of movement building.
The chart below shows the total number of unique monthly users to the ACE website from January 2015 through October 201610 that resulted from organic interest, not paid advertising.
In January 2015 the number was 43,417 and in October 2016 the number was 125,907. This means that organic web traffic grew by 290% over the last nearly two years.
Animal Advocacy Research Fund
In Spring of 2016 we launched the Animal Advocacy Research Fund as part of our plan to expand quality research in the animal advocacy movement. The Fund, and its Advocacy Program Officer, is funded entirely by an anonymous donor who is also committed to developing high-quality research. This benefactor has committed to providing $1 million in funding to the Fund over a three-year period. In 2016, this accounted for $70,000 of our revenue and expenses. No general donations to ACE have gone to support this program.
In June 2016, the Fund began accepting its first round of proposals. The first grant application period closed in September, and after a two-month review process we selected eight applicants to receive a grant in December. We distributed one grant in December 2016, while the remaining seven grants will be distributed in early 2017. Below is the grant that was distributed in 2016.
|Grantee||Amount Awarded||Research Title|
|Dr. Eva Vivalt (Australia National University) & Bobbie MacDonald (Stanford University)||$29,500||Estimating the Demand for Cultured Meat|
Donor Survey Results
While we are thrilled with every dollar that is donated to a highly effective animal charity, our goal is to bring more attention to issues like cause prioritization and effectiveness, while also giving donors the opportunity to learn about charities they may not have previously considered.
Trends we look for in our annual donor survey are:
- Convincing donors who previously only invested in human aid charities to care about animal welfare also, because reducing as much suffering as possible is important to them
- Convincing general animal welfare donors to care about farmed animal suffering, because 99% of animals who experience human-caused suffering in the U.S. are farmed animals
While we value our role as a resource for longstanding animal charity donors who want to ensure that their gifts are being used to do the most possible good, we hope to influence new philanthropic dollars to highly effective charities.
To that end, our 2016 donor survey11 indicated that:
- 78-91% of respondents12 were very strongly influenced by ACE to donate to our Top Charities
- approximately 93% of first-time donors to our Top Charities were strongly influenced by ACE
- 78% of respondents said that they would have donated to or spent their money on something other than farmed animal advocacy were it not for the information they learned from ACE
Additionally, we provide an optional survey to our Top Charity donors through the ACE website. After they make a donation to a Top Charity, they are asked, “Which issues matter most to you?” and offered a selection of options. Since we started this survey in August 2016, 240 individual donors submitted 615 total survey responses (often choosing multiple options) through the end of the year.
Of the 240 donors who participated in the survey:13
- 38% selected Charity Evaluations
- 58% selected Effective Giving
- 71% selected Farmed Animal Advocacy
- 90% selected Reducing Animal Suffering
From this survey, it is clear that the vast majority of people who donate to our Top Charities through ACE’s website are motivated by reducing animal suffering, while a much smaller group are motivated by our charity evaluations.
Influence and Impact
Our donor survey results, along with the increasing amount of donations to our recommended charities, indicate that more and more philanthropists are being convinced of the value in giving to effective animal charities. Additionally, the growth in organic traffic to ACE’s website suggests that more people are searching for effective animal charities or ways to maximize their impact.
ACE’s research and recommendations are also having an impact on an increasing number of donors. Each year we see the number of donors, along with the total donations, to recommended charities more than double. Donations that we know to be influenced by ACE make up a significant percentage of our Top Charities’ annual revenue.14 All of this indicates that we are making progress in our mission to help highly effective charities expand their programs by directing engaged donors and critical funding their way.
One important observation that we can pull from this data is that the donors who are integrating ACE’s research and recommendations into their giving are thoughtful and strategic philanthropists. We know this by looking at the average gift to our Top Charities, along with the number of significant gifts that ACE has influenced. Through ACE, donors are finding the resources they need to make educated decisions about where to give, thereby increasing their confidence in their gifts.
Lastly, the new Animal Advocacy Research Fund will further strengthen ACE’s influence by bringing much-needed academic research to the animal welfare movement. While the first grant was not awarded until late 2016, and therefore likely had little impact on 2016 giving, we expect that the results of this program, and the forthcoming research, will help to further educate and inform donors who want to help animals and bolster their philanthropic impact.
Lesson 1: It is clear that ACE relies too heavily on our most generous donors. While we wouldn’t be where we are today without these founding benefactors, when less than 1% of our supporters are providing 40% of our revenue, this is an unstable balance of income. Similarly, while we are thrilled to have influenced such generous philanthropists to support our Top Charities, the potential loss of those 6 donors who provided nearly 74% of the total donations that ACE influenced is far too great. Moving forward, we need to work on bringing more diversity to our donor giving categories to mitigate the risk of losing these top donors.
Lesson 2: Our average gifts are very strong! An average gift of over $900 to our Top Charities—which is significantly higher than industry standards15 —highlights that the donors we influence to effective charities are highly invested in creating lasting change. Even when looking at gifts under $5,000 (which represents 97% of the ACE-influenced donors to our Top Charities), the average gift was $262, which is still much higher than the sector average. Gaining educated and generous donors is a clear benefit to charities who participate in the evaluation process with ACE and earn a recommendation.
Lesson 3: Since charities are not required to provide us with donor names for the donations that they received directly as a result of ACE’s recommendation of them, it makes tracking these numbers difficult on our end. For example, we are unable to verify some donations that may have been previously reported to us but were removed after further communication with the donor. Given our interest in reporting exact and accurate numbers, we will continue to seek additional ways to track the donations that we have influenced to effective animal charities. Additionally, by more proactively encouraging donors to report their gifts that were influenced by ACE directly to us, this will help to reduce discrepancies in reporting.
Lesson 4: Since one of our goals is to influence philanthropists to consider animal welfare, our annual donor survey could benefit from a question (or questions) pertaining to their history of giving to animal charities to better determine whether or not ACE’s information helped to convince them that animal welfare in general was a worthy philanthropic investment.
Lesson 5: Nearly a quarter of the donations that ACE influenced to our recommended charities went to Standout Charities, which shows that donors are looking beyond just our top three recommended charities and investing in organizations that may be more closely aligned with their personal philanthropic goals. That being said, while one Standout Charity received enormous support, the other nine reported less than $40K in collective ACE-influenced donations—a tiny fraction of the total $3.5M that ACE influenced to our recommended charities in 2016. To ensure that all Standout Charities receive adequate support as a result of ACE’s recommendation of them, we will be seeking more opportunities to promote their important work. Between increased promotion and more comprehensive donation tracking practices, we hope to see those numbers grow by next year’s report.
To avoid counting a gift twice, we compare our internal list of reported gifts to the list provided by the charities. If there is any question about a possible duplicate gift, then we review those gifts with the charity to confirm if these were additional gifts or the same gifts
Total revenue differs from the ”Amount Donated” total due to revenue from ACE Symposium ticket sales, which totaled $10,572.61, and $5,535.75 in other miscellaneous sources of revenue that cannot be attributed to an individual donor.
This survey had 183 responses: 170 full responses and 13 partial responses. The survey was voluntary and likely had a response rate of between 10% and 24%, thus it may not be representative of all donors who were influenced by ACE.