A new year brings new opportunities for Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) to refine and improve our methods to find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. Here, we share the top-level objectives that will guide our work throughout the fiscal year spanning from January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023.1 These objectives support our broader goals and vision over the next three years, as outlined in our 2022–2024 strategic plan.
Reassess the Top and Standout Charity categories and the frequency of re-evaluating recommended charities
- Hold conversations with research staff on various categories for recommended charities and the frequency of re-evaluating them.
- Prepare a proposal for an alternative protocol for categorizing and re-evaluating recommended charities, and discuss it with communications and philanthropy staff.
- Develop a list of options for recommendation categories and the frequency of re-evaluating Top and Standout charities.
Update our analysis and assessment of cost effectiveness in charity reviews
- Design a process to analyze the cost effectiveness of various types of programs.
- Identify factors and considerations used for the cost effectiveness criterion and update the boilerplate for charity reviews.
Reevaluate and update our decision-making process for charity recommendations
- Use our general decision-making framework to update our decision-making process for charity recommendations.
- Update our framework for assessing the severity of leadership and culture issues and consider whether there are other ways of addressing these issues, even when they don’t merit a change in recommendation status.
Increase transparency about the Room for More Funding (RFMF) model in charity information requests and charity reviews
- Assess and update the current RFMF model.
- Explain the model to the charity evaluation committee and other staff. Include an explanation of the model in information requests sent to charities and in charity reviews.
Increase support for organizations in high-priority regions
- Increase the proportion of funding going to organizations in the Global South by 15% of total funding for Round 6.
- In preparation for Round 7, establish a new framework for country prioritization in the context of Movement Grants.
- In preparation for Round 7, build connections with 15 promising organizations from high-priority regions who have not yet applied for a Movement Grant.
Re-evaluate the aims and direction of the Movement Grants program
- Consider the original aims of the Movement Grants program and assess whether they are still valid, and the extent to which they are being met.
- Consider updating the aims and/or changing the approach of the program to better meet its aims.
Assess the impact of recent funding rounds to inform Movement Grants Round 7
- Produce a report of successes and failures from Round 5 and 6 of Movement Grants, and use that information to inform decision-making for future rounds.
Widen the reach of calls for applications
- Identify newsletters, EA groups, and other parties that could advertise our call for applications.
- Invite promising organizations to apply from high-priority countries (as above).
- Identify other places to distribute the call for applications, such as global networks and U.S.-based organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and people of the global majority (BIPGM). Develop a plan for outreach to these groups ahead of funding round seven.
Assess the impact of Movement Grants
- Evaluate the impact of at least 20 completed Movement Grants projects.
- Apply key takeaways from the assessment to this year’s grant applicant selection.
- Use information we learn about various interventions’ effectiveness to inform charity evaluations.
Reassess and update research-related content on our website
- Identify key pages that need updating and revise content.
Assess the combined impact of our two core programs—Movement Grants and Charity Evaluations—to inform future rounds and identify need for new initiatives
- Assess how well our research programs are complementing each other, and whether more could be done to interconnect them.
- Assess how well our research programs are fulfilling our mission as an organization, and consider whether changes or new programs might be needed.
Produce our Monthly Research Newsletter and update our Research Library
- Publish a Monthly Research Newsletter containing recent publications relevant to EAA.
- Add references from the monthly newsletter and other research activities to the Research Library.
Update ACE’s visual brand components
- Expand the primary color palette and incorporate the updated palette into our print communications, online assets, and Visual Style Guide.
- Refresh ACE’s current logo.
Improve communications-related workflows and documentation for ACE staff
- Ensure staff biannually review relevant communications documents to stay up to date on ACE’s latest standards and key messages.
- Conduct a staff survey to identify areas for improvement in the editorial and social media workflows, then implement solutions to improve them.
- Create a video tutorial on how to use the editorial workflow.
- Implement new software to improve the efficiency of communications-related workflows.
Increase audience engagement
- Re-engage ACE’s current audience by testing and implementing new approaches to email marketing, increasing our presence on social media, creating new ACE-owned and guest content on our blog, and diversifying the types and accessibility of our general content.
- Introduce ACE to new audiences by conducting media outreach for our core programs and fundraising campaigns, developing our advertising and email marketing strategies, and boosting our social media content.
- Update our monthly newsletter, ACE News, by improving design elements and repurposing and adding new sections.
Update our website to reflect ACE’s current priorities and improve the user experience
- Reorganize the website menu and other web pages to improve user experience.
- Increase website accessibility by translating important web pages into the three to five most common languages spoken by website visitors, recommended charities, and Movement Grant recipients.
- Create a subdomain for the Movement Grants program that contains all relevant information and updates.
Conduct foundational research for our website redesign in 2023
- Use a user behavior tool and notes from our menu redesign to inform how we want to restructure our website.
- Research and conduct outreach to web design agencies.
Meet ACE’s 2022-2023 operating budget of $1.6M
- Hire a philanthropy team member to increase capacity for donor cultivation and stewardship.
- Offer in-person visits to donors based in areas near philanthropy staff and any conferences that ACE attends (COVID-19 permitting).
- Conduct a $400,000 fundraising campaign with a $50,000 minimum lead donor gift.
- Collaborate with the communications team to develop relevant content and designs.
- Engage board members in fundraising activities.
- File required state registrations to continue fundraising in the U.S.
Enhance monthly donor program
- Brand the monthly donor program and develop a growth strategy.
- Email welcome packages to new monthly donors.
- Create a monthly donor upgrade process.
- Create a landing page with relevant information for monthly donors.
Secure $200k in revenue from cryptocurrency donors
- Schedule a regular crypto post on Twitter and engage more frequently with the crypto community online.
- Create a landing page for crypto donations on ACE’s website.
- Initiate dialogue with a crypto exchange.
Secure six new legacy gifts
- Brand the legacy donor program and develop a growth strategy.
- Mail or email welcome packages to new legacy donors.
- Promote legacy giving options in our ACE News emails.
- Identify planned giving prospects and create customized outreach efforts.
Influence $11M to ACE’s Top and Standout Charities, including donations accepted by ACE, donations to the Recommended Charity Fund (RCF), and charity-reported donations
- Offer a $300,000 matching challenge for the RCF.
- Secure inclusion in the Double Up Drive to raise $1,000,000 for the RCF.
- Promote more giving options for the RCF throughout the year.
- Identify and approach donors who have supported the RCF with custom donation requests.
Estimate and report ACE-influenced donations
- Standardize format for charities to report ACE-influenced donations.
- Create custom guidelines for grantmakers who have funded ACE-recommended charities to determine their level of influence.
- Encourage donors to report their donations to ACE-recommended charities throughout the year (e.g., by including quarterly requests in our newsletter).
- Report estimates of ACE-influenced donations using recently revised metrics, including in Giving Metrics Report.
Better understand how donors use ACE’s recommendations
- Redesign and conduct an annual donor survey.
Raise $1,000,000 for the Movement Grants program to distribute in 2023
- Offer a $300,000 matching challenge for Movement Grants.
- Promote more giving options for Movement Grants throughout the year.
- Identify and approach donors who have supported Movement Grants with custom donation requests.
- Engage with other grantmakers in the movement to gain insight into their fundraising practices and increase our understanding of global funding needs.
- Join Animal Grantmakers, a funder affinity group, to network with other grantmakers and promote ACE and our Movement Grants program.
Maintain accurate and well-managed finances
- Complete switch to a new bank and increase financial controls using additional available features.
- Manage the change in ACE’s fiscal year, including an additional audit and tax return.
Strengthen team capacity, staff learning, and professional development
- Engage with external experts or board members to offer at least three opportunities for increased employee engagement and learning during all-staff calls.
- Engage external experts or board members in presenting to ACE employees to increase engagement and learning. Offer at least three learning opportunities by the end of 2022.
- Hold an in-person staff retreat.
- Grow and maintain our network of volunteer translators.
- Experiment with using mental aptitude tests in hiring.
Update and improve operational processes at ACE
- Administer culture survey to measure employee engagement and identify areas for improvement.
- Document the strategic planning and goal-setting processes to improve clarity for current and future staff.
- Review cross-training of all essential program and operating functions to improve institutional resilience.
- Revise operating model to reduce complexity across project roles and better define decision-making responsibilities.
- Improve ACE’s use of our project management software. Revise documentation and training materials with an emphasis on providing practical examples and creating user-friendly resources like templates and training videos.
- Discuss among leadership where impact assessment would be most valuable to determine future impact assessment projects.
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