The following is a guest post from Kasia Wypy, a major donor to ACE Top Charity Anima International. Kasia is a Web Engineer based in London. She has extensive business experience, is the founder of vegan start-up Beanuts and is a Member of the Supervisory Board at ZPUE. Kasia holds master’s degrees in Management, Organisations and Governance; Asian Politics; and Comparative Studies of Civilization. In her spare time she donates to and volunteers for effective charities and organizations.
I was five or six when I first discovered where meat comes from, and straight away I felt very strongly against it.
Growing up in Poland, my parents weren’t vegetarian, but they tried to teach me kindness towards animals around me. It was never an option to kill a spider in our house. Insects were taken outside. We were always adopting dogs and stray animals; we sometimes had cats, pet rats, and a rabbit, too.
Fast forward to my teenage years and you find an activist in the making. I remember spending time collecting signatures for petitions to stop live transport of horses or to stop whale hunting. I was even protesting in front of circuses that included animals when they visited our town.
But this was often impulse-based, and chaotic. Even though over the years I read a lot about philosophy and sociology, it took me a long time to start thinking more philosophically and systematically about the way society treats animals.
How Can We Help Animals the Most?
My first degree was in Comparative Studies of Civilization, where I had lots of classes about India. I traveled to India a few times and even lived in Chandigarh and Dharamsala for six months.
My experiences in India were eye-opening—it’s a complicated country not only politically, but also when it comes to the attitudes towards animals. Still, in the country where over 30% of the population is vegetarian, I started being more aware that the way a society treats animals is so strongly entwined with the culture. Rather than pointing any fingers, I learned how the realities of animal rights can differ greatly across borders—and how common ideas should be challenged.
It was about that time when I not only started learning more about the role of animals in culture, but I also gained interest in the conditions farmed animals live in and how factory farming works.
Once I learned the realities of factory farming, creating change became a very important part of my life, but through my studies and life experience, I had learned that we can’t change the world straight away. So I spent time reading a lot about effective altruism, about various philosophical attitudes towards animals, about different approaches to animal activism, about animal rights vs. animal welfare, and so on. I wanted to find ways to help as many animals as possible with the limited resources I had.
Effective Altruism and Animal Charity Evaluators
I’ve known about the works of Peter Singer for years, so I came across the video “The Why and How of Effective Altruism” not long after it was recorded. However, it was the book Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference by William MacAskill that was my proper introduction to the ideas of effective altruism.
I found great value in the principles of an evidence-based approach, of focusing on scale and tractability, and my life experiences also showed me that there are many neglected areas in the world for animal rights. Far from the Western perspective, there are countries such as Russia, Poland, and Ukraine that have only just begun their animal protection journeys. This means that these countries offer great opportunities for those looking to create an impact for animals. There is a lot to do and a dollar can potentially go a long way.
My passion for helping animals and doing good in the world is as strong as ever, but my thinking has changed a lot from those early days as a sensitive and impulse-driven kid. My life experiences, studies, and the principles of effective altruism have guided me to seek out impactful opportunities.
Far from stunting my passion, organizations like Animal Charity Evaluators challenge me to push myself and my thinking. We should keep carrying insects outdoors, but we should unite this drive with doing good better: This is where groups like ACE are crucial. And now, I am focusing on effective giving.
Donating to End Factory Farming
Quite early in my life, I was aware that money is what many people and organizations need. When I was a kid I often asked my parents to help me buy and deliver food for dog shelters from my pocket money—it was helpful that they were matching my donations! I’ve been giving small donations to various animal shelters, environmental organizations, and UNICEF since then.
However, I realized that there is one cause that is very important to me: helping farmed animals. I decided to work to help this cause in a more intentional way.
I live in the United Kingdom as a programmer, but I’ve been donating monthly to the Anima International group in Poland, called Otwarte Klatki (Open Cages), for a few years. They concentrate on farmed animals in Poland and are working well in a very challenging environment. I’m happy to donate to organizations that are efficient and that have great people working or volunteering for them. Being Polish, I witnessed their work first-hand. So when I was able to donate a larger sum with my partner, it was obvious to me that it should be donated to one of the Anima International organizations.
I attended a lecture in London and got to hear about what Anima International is working on across Europe, specifically the opportunity to take advantage of the change that Brexit offers animal advocacy groups in the U.K. I read Animal Charity Evaluators’ review of the organization and this helped my partner and I seal our final decision to donate to the Anima International branch in the U.K., Open Cages.
Why I Encourage You to Aim for Impact
Thanks to my exposure to effective altruism and organizations like Animal Charity Evaluators, I have grown from a young passionate kid to someone who is learning how to really have an impact for animals. I am learning that money can save animals, and it matters where the money is allocated. We must use that original spark and fight against injustice as fuel for a pragmatic and smart approach.
Not only did Animal Charity Evaluators sharpen my thinking, but they also helped me get the most out of my gift. ACE’s Director of Philanthropy Heather Herrell helped us get the funds to Anima International along with the extra U.K. gift aid by donating through the Centre for Effective Altruism. ACE staff were fast, helpful, and enthusiastic, making sure everything went smoothly. With this help, we were able to increase our large donation by 25%. We were grateful to see how willing ACE was to help my partner and I have as big an impact as possible.
I’m now volunteering with Anima International in the U.K. and I am already beginning to see how my donation is directly helping animals on factory farms. We can’t change the world alone, so I believe it’s important to support good organizations that work toward the change we want to see in the world.
I donate to Anima International because they share this same drive and focus on effectiveness that I believe in. I encourage anyone looking to have an impact for animals to donate to any of the effective animal advocacy organizations recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators.