Animal Charity Evaluators updates our recommendations each year on December 1. This year we’re proud to announce that our top charities are Animal Equality, Mercy For Animals, and The Humane League – the same organizations that we selected last year. All three groups continue to operate in an effective fashion and showed substantial growth over the past year. We are satisfied that they continue to use increased funds, including those generated from ACE’s recommendation, in strategic and effective ways.
Animal Equality continues to have a large reach given their limited resources, and we are impressed with their level of presence and exposure. They have recently established an office in the United States and hired individuals for seven new positions spanning five different countries over the course of 2015. We think they have a strategic approach to growth and continue to optimize their use of resources to benefit animals in an effective manner, as they use key performance indicators to monitor performance across a wide range of projects and then make changes as necessary.
Mercy For Animals used additional resources to develop new programs such as the Good Food Institute, a project intended to create and promote plant-based alternatives to animal products. They also increased spending on online ads and created resources for especially important international areas like China and India. They made decisions not to expand efforts in certain areas based on concerns of oversaturation, which shows that they are thinking strategically about their initiatives. We are confident that they will continue to evaluate these new projects and make sound decisions about where to spend additional funds.
The Humane League opened two new offices in 2015 and created several specialized leadership roles within the organization. Having noted considerable success with their corporate campaigns, they increased spending in that department by hiring four new campaign staff members. They published the results of new studies via Humane League Labs, providing their findings to the public for free. The Humane League continues to impress us with their dedication to evaluating their internal programs and increasing spending in more impactful areas, such as their decision to direct resources from cage-free initiatives to Meatless Mondays campaigns.
In addition to our top charities, we’re also pleased to announce that we’ve added five new organizations to our list of standout charities: Animal Ethics, Animals Australia, Faunalytics, New Harvest, and the Nonhuman Rights Project. In conjunction with our standout charities from last year – Albert Schweitzer Foundation, Farm Animal Rights Movement, HSUS Farm Animal Protection Campaign, and Vegan Outreach – this brings our total number of standout charities to nine.
The growth of our list of standout charities this year reveals a difference in how we treat our top and standout categories. We keep the number of top charities to two or three to avoid confusion and allow donors to clearly see all our top recommendations. As with last year, however, we did not impose a limit this year on the number of charities in our standout category. We use this category to recognize a larger number of groups that are either doing especially good work in an area that we recognize as being effective, or that are working in areas that we feel are under-addressed and potentially able to alleviate suffering on an especially large scale. We feel confident that the charities we have selected this year fit into this category, and we’re glad to recognize all of them.
You can find medium depth reviews for all of the charities that we recommend on our website. Additionally, we undertook our first deep review in our evaluation of The Humane League. This deeper assessment involved many additional conversations with THL stakeholders, including staff, volunteers, Board Members, donors, and those that have invited THL to speak at their school. We chose THL for this review because we were most familiar with their work, they have been particularly inviting of evaluation in the past, and they willingly share all materials that we request. Our deep review of THL helped inform us as to the value of conducting this level of analysis on animal advocacy groups in the future, and we will share our thinking on that matter in the coming months.
We continue to learn more about our evaluation process each time we revise our recommendations, and this year was no exception. We are composing a series of pages explaining our thinking on our process in more detail, and anticipate that being available in the first half of 2016. We are also planning to dedicate time to reconsidering our criteria during the first few months of 2016 to determine if there are ways we can strengthen our evaluation process.
We also want to improve the ways we can accurately measure our own successes and failures. Our impact over the past year was substantial for our top charities, as we influenced over $500,000 in giving to them so far in 2015. However, that only includes donations that we are aware of, and we think the number would reasonably be higher if we were able to track donations in every way that we would like. To that end, we implemented a donation redistribution option over the summer that allows donors to support our top charities directly through our donation platform on our site, and we are hopeful that service will continue to assist us with tracking the amount of money that we’ve influenced in giving to these groups. We hope to develop other means for measuring impact in the coming year.
As always, we invite feedback on our process and recommendations, either in the comments below or by contacting us directly. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of all groups involved with our evaluation process. We hope that our reports give them insight on how to improve their work, and that our findings provide value to all animal advocates looking to do the greatest good with their time and money.