ACE updates our recommendations each year by December 1. This year, we are publishing our recommendations a few days early in order to have our most recent updates live in time for Giving Tuesday.
We’re excited to announce that our newest Top Charities are Animal Equality, The Good Food Institute, and The Humane League. GFI and THL retained their top positions from last year by continuing their impact-driven work, and we are pleased to welcome Animal Equality back to their previously held position of Top Charity.
We have a number of changes to our Standout Charity category this year. We’re excited to welcome newcomers Compassion in World Farming USA, L214, and Otwarte Klatki (Open Cages) to our list. We are also happy to report that Faunalytics and the Nonhuman Rights Project have maintained their status as Standout Charities after being reviewed again this year.
Below you will find brief details on recommended charities that we reviewed this year, and you can view entire comprehensive reviews for each of our recommendations here. First, however, we want to highlight a unique giving opportunity that we are proud to offer this year.
A Unique Opportunity
This means that you can double your donation from now through the end of the year by donating to our Recommended Charity Fund. We will distribute all of the funds raised through the end of the year to our recommended charities in January. You can find more details about the Fund, including how donations will be divided among charities, here.
What makes this opportunity even more special is that thanks to ACE’s wonderful, generous supporters, we have filled ACE’s funding gap for 2017! That means that we will regift all unrestricted donations to ACE—through the end of 2017—to our recommended charities. Additionally, we will focus the entirety of our year-end fundraising efforts on bringing in donations to our recommended charities.
This is a significant opportunity to maximize your donation’s impact, and we hope that many of you take advantage of it. ACE will certainly need donations again in 2018, so if you are particularly interested in supporting our work, we welcome you to give early in 2018! The sooner we can fill next year’s funding gap, the sooner we can again put all our efforts toward raising money for effective animal charities.
Animal Equality advocates for animals in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, India, and China. They conduct investigations, engage in grassroots advocacy, run corporate and legislative campaigns, and make significant efforts to research the impact of their programs. Animal Equality’s international background enables them to create strong programs in the many countries in which they work, focusing on approaches that are locally suitable and cost-effective. Last year we were concerned that their rate of growth might be outpacing their administrative systems, but the progress we have seen from them in the past year has alleviated this concern. Read our full review.
The Good Food Institute works in an underutilized but critically important area by promoting and aiding the development of competitive alternatives to animal-based meat, dairy, and eggs. They provide support in a variety of ways to cellular agriculture and plant-based food companies, including building relationships with distributors and retailers to increase the likelihood of successful integration. They also drive research and development of these products. GFI has a short track record, but they have a strategic approach and highly-qualified team that mitigate this concern, and have shown good progress towards their goals in the past year. Read our full review.
The Humane League has built an especially effective corporate outreach department that has achieved substantial progress for millions of animals over the past year, often through collaborative campaigns with other advocacy groups. Additionally, they have helped create the Open Wing Alliance, a global coalition of animal advocacy organizations with the potential to scale their effective strategies around the world. They’ve shown consistent growth in their expansion of local offices and international branches, and now have strong leadership guiding Humane League Labs—where they are aiming to produce meaningful research to help animal advocacy charities. Read our full review.
In addition to our Top Charities, we are adding four organizations to our list of Standout Charities this year. We evaluate Standout Charities every two years, so our current list of nine Standout Charities also includes strong organizations from last year’s reviews. The newest additions to this list are Open Cages (Otwarte Klatki), L214, and Compassion in World Farming USA. We also evaluated The Nonhuman Rights Project and Faunalytics this year, both of which retained their status as Standout Charities.
We have introduced an additional designation within the Standout Charity category, so as to be more transparent with our thinking on how we view each respective organization. We hope that this will empower donors to more accurately select the charities that they would like to support. Specifically, we will now classify Standout Charities as either “Standout: General Interest” or “Standout: Special Interest.”
Standout: General Interest
We consider these Standout Charities to be good choices for evidence-minded donors with limited time available to research their donations. We expect these charities would appeal to most donors who generally agree with our priorities and values.
Standout: Special Interest
We think these Standout Charities are especially attractive to donors with certain specific interests. For example, some may appeal to donors interested in supporting longer-term work or more speculative projects. A Standout Charity would also fall in this category if we think donors may need to do further research in order to donate there effectively—for example, if donations should be restricted to a particular program.
Below, we group charities that we evaluated this year into one of these two categories.
Standout: General Interest
Compassion in World Farming USA is the U.S. branch of an international organization working to advance farmed animal welfare. They work to improve the well-being of farmed animals, primarily by changing corporate practices and policies through corporate campaigns and their Food Business program. They often work directly with companies, forming friendly relationships to help influence policies and track companies’ progress on commitments. They also support national legislative efforts as they pertain to banning close confinement systems and “ag-gag” bills. Read our full review.
L214 works to reduce the suffering of farmed animals in France. They conduct institutional campaigns, including corporate cage-free egg campaigns and restaurant outreach. They also educate the public through investigations of both slaughterhouses and farming operations. Animal advocacy work in France appears to be relatively neglected, making it potentially more effective than the same efforts would be in the U.S. This is particularly true of investigations, which we understand to be relatively rare in France. Read our full review.
Open Cages is a Polish organization that works to help animals in Eastern Europe through corporate campaigns, investigations, and outreach. We are impressed by their evidence-focused outlook. Additionally, their position in Eastern Europe allows them to work cost-effectively and to help build a movement for farmed animals in an area where few other organizations are operating on their behalf. Read our full review.
Standout: Special Interest
Faunalytics is working in an important field: supporting other animal organizations through research. They conduct independent research, work directly with client organizations on various research projects, and provide resources for individual advocates through the content library they host on their website. We think they are a particularly good giving opportunity for donors with a special interest in supporting research that can benefit the entire animal advocacy movement. Read our full review.
The Nonhuman Rights Project is taking a unique approach to pursuing legal rights for animals. By litigating on behalf of nonhuman clients, they seek to establish personhood and rights first for some nonhuman animals, and perhaps later for many more. Legal personhood could provide long-term, stable protection for nonhuman animals under the law. We think they are a particularly good giving opportunity for donors with a special interest in supporting long-term legal change for animals. Read our full review.
The Standout Charities listed above were all reviewed this year. We also offer a complete list of all of our current Standout Charities, which includes charities that were awarded this status last year.
You can find 11 new comprehensive reviews in our review database. We also released three additional exploratory reviews, which are the product of our initial investigations into charities before we decide whether to conduct a comprehensive evaluation.
We plan to publish a blog post explaining this year’s evaluation process in more detail soon.
Mercy For Animals
Those who have followed our work will notice that we did not publish a 2017 review for former ACE Top Charity Mercy For Animals. MFA declined to be reviewed or to have their review published this year, and since we do not recommend charities that do not have an up-to-date review on our site, we have not listed them as a Top or Standout Charity.
We recommend that donors who supported MFA last year because of our recommendation continue to support MFA’s work with a portion of the amount given to them in previous years. Stable funding is very important to charities, and in particular, we want to see MFA follow through with their plans to expand internationally. In 2018, we would like to see our donors continue to give somewhere between 25–75% of their previous yearly gifts to MFA, rather than shifting all of their donations to ACE’s new Top Charities. We hope that this will allow MFA to maintain their expanded programs and staff, and give them time to find new sources of funding, if necessary.
We offer our sincere gratitude to all charities we evaluated this year. Engaging with us takes time, and we are grateful for organizations’ willingness to be open with us about their work. To that end, we have also awarded (or are in the process of awarding) grants to those charities that have participated in our evaluation process. These grants are in the amount of $1,000 for charities that participated in a comprehensive review, and $500 for charities that participated in an exploratory review. These grants were not contingent on publication; we award grants to charities whose reviews we do not publish, assuming they made a good faith effort to engage with us during the review process.
Our goal with our annual evaluation process is not only to provide clear recommendations to donors and advocates on specific high-performing charities, but also to foster a culture of evaluation and critical assessment of programs and organizations in the field. We hope that our reviews prove informative for those charities looking to assess their impact.