|Primary Work Area||Industrial Agriculture|
|Website||The Good Food Fund|
|Review Published||November, 2020|
What does the Good Food Fund do?
The Good Food Fund (GFF) was founded in 2017. GFF currently operates in China, where they work to strengthen the animal advocacy community by hosting an annual summit (The Good Food Summit) and other events about dietary transformation. GFF also works to increase the availability of animal-free products by hosting events to promote plant-based products and diets among chefs, institutional food services, and the public. They run festivals, cooking demos, and other events, promoting plant-based cooking and connecting businesses and institutions to co-create “a new culinary culture.”
What are their strengths?
GFF works toward food system transformation in China. By hosting conferences and building alliances, we think GFF is well positioned to contribute to the growth of the animal advocacy community in China, an area we believe to be relatively neglected and promising. We consider GFF’s board independence and diversity to be strengths. All respondents to our culture survey agreed that GFF’s board supports the organization in achieving its strategic vision.
What are their weaknesses?
GFF does not currently have a formal strategic plan, however, they are in the process of drafting one. GFF lacks policies to prevent and handle harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We believe that opportunities for the team to learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion at GFF should be increased. Additionally, most team members who responded to our culture survey agreed that the system of performance evaluation needs to be changed or improved upon. We think distributing regular culture surveys could help GFF to better understand their workplace culture and identify areas for improvement.
Why do we recommend them?
GFF operates in China, a country that we view as a promising area for pursuing large-scale change for farmed animals. They work toward food system transformation through programs that seem to successfully contextualize and legitimize animal-free products and the farmed animal advocacy community in China. We think their strategic multi-issue, multi-stakeholder approach to shifting markets, consumers, and policy-makers toward plant-based food can help support the growth of the community as a whole. As farmed animal advocacy in China is currently neglected, we believe that GFF’s work to build the capacity of the community has the potential to be highly effective.
In general, we believe that GFF is an excellent giving opportunity because of their strong programmatic work and their commitment to community building in China.
A note on GFF’s review
As GFF operates in China, where regulations for charities are different than in other contexts where we evaluate charities, our published review of GFF differs from our other reviews in some ways. Readers interested in learning more about animal advocacy in China are welcome to request access to ACE’s China report. For inquiries about ACE’s evaluation of the Good Food Fund specifically, readers may reach out directly to ACE’s Research Managers.
Table of Contents
- How the Good Food Fund Performs on our Criteria
- Supplemental Documents
How the Good Food Fund Performs on our Criteria
Interpreting our “Overall Assessments”
We provide an overall assessment of each charity’s performance on each criterion. These assessments are expressed as two series of circles. The number of teal circles represents our assessment of a charity’s performance on a given criterion relative to the other charities we evaluated this year.
|A single circle indicates that a charity’s performance is weak on a given criterion, relative to the other charities we evaluated:|
|Two circles indicate that a charity’s performance is average on a given criterion, relative to the other charities we evaluated:|
|Three circles indicate that a charity’s performance is strong on a given criterion, relative to the other charities we evaluated:|
The number of gray circles indicates the strength of the evidence supporting each performance assessment and, correspondingly, our confidence in each assessment relative to the other charities we evaluated this year:
|Low confidence: Very limited evidence is available pertaining to the charity’s performance on this criterion, relative to the other charities. The evidence that is available may be low quality or difficult to verify.|
|Moderate confidence: There is evidence supporting our conclusion, and at least some of it is high quality and/or verified with third-party sources.|
|High confidence: There is substantial high-quality evidence supporting the charity’s performance on this criterion, relative to the other charities. There may be randomized controlled trials supporting the effectiveness of the charity’s programs and/or multiple third-party sources confirming the charity’s accomplishments.1|
Criterion 1: Programs
When we begin our evaluation process, we consider whether each charity is working in high-impact cause areas and employing effective interventions that are likely to produce positive outcomes for animals. These outcomes tend to fall under at least one of the following categories: increased availability of animal-free products, decreased consumption of animal products, improvement of welfare standards, increased prevalence of anti-speciesist values, stronger animal advocacy community, or direct help.
Countries of Operation
GFF currently works in China, where we believe animal advocacy is relatively neglected.
Interventions and Projected Outcomes
GFF pursues different avenues for creating change for animals: They work to strengthen the animal advocacy community and increase the availability of animal-free products.
To help communicate the process by which we believe a charity creates change for animals, we use theory of change diagrams. It is important to note that these diagrams are not complete representations of real-world mechanisms of change. Rather, they are simplified models that ACE uses to represent our beliefs about mechanisms of change. For the sake of simplicity, some diagrams may not include relatively small or uncertain effects.
Below, we also describe the work that GFF does.2 Unless otherwise specified, we have sourced the information in this criterion from Good Food Fund (2020b). For each intervention, we provide an assessment of how effective we think that intervention is at achieving a given outcome (weak/moderate/high).3 These assessments are based on the available evidence and are determined through a vote and discussion among our researchers. We flag assessments in which we have particularly low confidence, i.e., if we know of little or no supporting research or expert opinions.
A note about long-term impact
Each charity’s long-term impact is plausibly what matters most.4 The potential number of individuals affected increases over time due to population growth and an accumulation of generations of animals. Thus, we would expect that the long-term impacts of an action would be more likely to affect more animals than the short-term impacts of the same action. Nevertheless, we are highly uncertain about the particular long-term effects of each intervention. Because of this uncertainty, our reasoning about each charity’s impact (along with our diagrams) may skew toward overemphasizing short-term effects.
Stronger animal advocacy community
Working to strengthen the animal advocacy community through capacity- and alliance-building projects can have a far-reaching impact. Capacity-building projects can help animals by increasing the effectiveness of other projects and organizations, while building alliances with key influencers or institutions can expand the audience and impact of animal advocacy organizations and projects. ACE’s 2018 research on the way that resources are allocated between different animal advocacy interventions suggests that capacity building and building alliances are currently neglected relative to other interventions aimed at influencing public opinion and industry.
GFF’s capacity-building work includes hosting an annual summit (The Good Food Summit) and other events about dietary transformation. We believe that hosting conferences is highly effective in strengthening the animal advocacy community.
GFF directs around 65% of their programmatic resources toward this outcome.
Increased availability of animal-free products
Increasing the quality and availability of plant-based foods may help to create a climate in which it is easier for individuals to reduce their use of animal products. GFF hosts events to promote plant-based products and diets among chefs, institutional food services, and the public. They run festivals, cooking demos, and other events, promoting plant-based cooking and connecting businesses and institutions to co-create “a new culinary culture.” We believe that hosting events—and with a lower degree of confidence that training chefs—is moderately effective in increasing the availability of animal-free products.
GFF directs around 35% of their programmatic resources toward this outcome.
Criterion 2: Room for More Funding
ACE respects the unique regulations in each country where we evaluate charities, such as China. As a result, this criterion differs from those in our other 2020 reviews. Readers interested in learning more about the unique opportunities and challenges for animal advocacy in China may request access to ACE’s China report. For more information on ACE’s evaluation of the Good Food Fund’s room for more funding, you may contact ACE’s Research Managers.
|Planned Expansion||Confidence Level in Realizing Expansion7|
|Adding nine additional people to the team||High (20%), moderate (42%), and low (38%)|
|Training team members and starting an internship program||High (20%), moderate (42%), and low (38%)|
|Launching a 2030 Goal National Alliance||High (20%), moderate (42%), and low (38%)|
|Launching a food leadership program in China||High (20%), moderate (42%), and low (38%)|
|Creating a biodiversity plant-based food program||High (20%), moderate (42%), and low (38%)|
|Holding a Good Food Festival in Nepal||High|
Criterion 3: Cost Effectiveness
A charity’s recent cost effectiveness provides an insight into how well it has made use of its available resources and is a useful component in understanding how cost-effective future work by the charity might be. In this criterion, we take a more in-depth look at the charity’s use of resources over the past 18 months and compare that to the outcomes they have achieved in each of their main programs during that time. We have used an approach in which we qualitatively analyze GFF’s use of resources and key results.
Stronger Animal Advocacy Community
GFF engages in one program that we have categorized as contributing to strengthening the animal advocacy community—the annual Good Food Summit.
Key results and use of resources
Below is our estimated resource usage for GFF’s program focused on strengthening the animal advocacy community, January 2019–June 2020. In this section, we have only included what we believe are the key results of this program.
Evaluation of cost effectiveness
Building a stronger animal advocacy community encompasses a broad category of outcomes for animals that are typically indirect, and as such, it is difficult to make an assessment of their cost effectiveness. GFF’s Good Food Summit focuses on bringing together major stakeholders in China’s food space. Influencers, investors, and representatives of restaurants and universities participated in the 2019 Summit. When taking a long-term view, capacity building in countries that do not yet have an established animal advocacy community may be particularly cost effective.
Overall, we think the cost effectiveness of GFF’s work toward strengthening the animal advocacy community seems similar to the average cost effectiveness of other charities’ work toward this outcome we have evaluated this year.
Increased Availability of Animal-Free Products
GFF engages in one program that we have categorized as contributing to increasing the availability of animal-free products—the Good Food Festival.
Key results and use of resources
Below is our estimatedresource usage for GFF’s program focused on increased availability of animal-free products, January 2019–June 2020. In this section, we have only included what we believe are the key results of each program.
Evaluation of cost effectiveness
GFF’s Good Food Festival focuses on facilitating networking and events for chefs to transition food culture in China towards plant-based cuisine. This work is fairly indirect in its effect for animals, as its impact is dependent on how much those chefs change their focus toward providing plant-based meals, and thus it is very difficult to assess the cost effectiveness of this program. That said, the neglectedness of this work in China may make this program particularly cost effective relative to other similar chef training programs.
Overall, we think the cost effectiveness of GFF’s work toward increasing the availability of animal-free products seems similar to the average cost effectiveness of other charities’ work toward this outcome we have evaluated this year.
Criterion 4: Track Record
Information about a charity’s track record can help us predict the charity’s future activities and accomplishments, which is information that cannot always be incorporated into our other criteria. An organization’s track record is sometimes a pivotal factor when our analysis otherwise finds limited differences between two charities.
In this section, we evaluate each charity’s track record of success by considering some of the key results that they have accomplished prior to 2019.15 For charities that operate in more than one country, we consider how they have expanded internationally.
GFF was founded in 2017. As a newly formed organization, their track record is relatively short. Since their foundation, they have been working on the Good Food Summit and the Good Food Festival, building a track record of success in organizing conferences and events to promote plant-based diets in China.
Key Results Prior to 201916
Below is a summary of GFF’s programs’ key results prior to 2019, ordered by program duration (with the longest-running programs listed first). These results were reported to us by GFF, and we were not able to corroborate all their reports.17 We do not expect charities to fabricate accomplishments, but we do think it’s important to be transparent about which outcomes are reported to us and which we have corroborated or verified independently. Unless indicated otherwise, the following key results are based on information reported in Good Food Fund (2020b).
Note that many of these results have been achieved in collaboration with other organizations and individuals.
Criterion 5: Leadership and Culture
Leadership directly affects an organization’s culture, performance, and effectiveness. Strongly-led charities are likely to have a healthy organizational culture that enables their core work. We collect information about each charity’s internal operations in several ways. We ask leadership to describe the culture they try to foster, as well as potential areas of improvement. We review each charity’s human resources policies and check that they include those we believe are important. We also send a culture survey to the team members of each charity.18, 19
In this section, we describe each charity’s key leadership and assess some of their strengths and weaknesses.
Leadership team members
- President and Founder: Jian Yi, involved in the organization for three years
- Executive Director (ED): Melinda Hou, involved in the organization for eleven months
- Chief Project Officer: Cecilia Zhou, involved in the organization for three years
About 86% of respondents to our culture survey agreed that GFF’s leadership is attentive to the organization’s strategy. Most respondents agreed that their leadership promotes external transparency (86%) and internal transparency (86%).
Board of Directors
GFF’s Board of Directors consists of three members, none of whom are leadership team members. We consider GFF’s board independence from leadership to be a strength.
Members of GFF’s Board of Directors
- Dr. Zhou Jinfeng: Secretary General of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation
- Victor Koo: founder of youku.com, sometimes known as China’s YouTube + Netflix
- Mia MacDonald: founder & Executive Director of Brighter Green
All respondents to our culture survey agreed that GFF’s board supports the organization in achieving its strategic vision.
We believe that boards whose members represent occupational and viewpoint diversity are likely most useful to a charity since they can offer a wide range of perspectives and skills. There is some evidence suggesting that nonprofit board diversity is positively associated with better fundraising and social performance20 and better internal and external governance practices,21 as well as with the use of inclusive governance practices that allow the board to incorporate community perspectives into their strategic decision making.22 GFF’s board is composed of individuals with diverse occupational backgrounds and experiences. We consider the board’s relative occupational diversity to be a strength.
Policies and Benefits
Here we present a list of policies that, if properly drafted and enforced, we find to be beneficial for fostering a healthy culture. A green mark indicates that GFF has such a policy and a red mark indicates that they do not. A yellow mark indicates that the organization has a partial policy, an informal or unwritten policy, or a policy that is not fully or consistently implemented. We do not expect a given charity to have all of the following policies, but we believe that, generally, having more of them is better than having fewer.
ACE respects the unique regulations in each country where we evaluate charities, such as China. As a result, this list of policies differs from those in our other 2020 reviews.
Culture and Morale
A charity with a healthy culture acts responsibly toward all stakeholders: team members, volunteers, donors, beneficiaries, and others in the community. According to GFF’s leadership, their organizational culture is an environment where work is promising and has potential to make a difference, and the team is respected. GFF’s leadership recognizes that remote work does not give many opportunities to build an organizational culture.
The survey we distributed supports leadership’s claim that GFF’s culture is overall positive. Respondents noted in an open-response box that the team is passionate and enthusiastic, while the work is challenging. A few common adjectives that respondents used to describe GFF’s communication style were “friendly,” “respectful,” “transparent,” “clear,” direct,” or similar.
According to our culture survey, GFF has an overall level of team member engagement lower than the average of charities under review.
According to leadership, the following areas of GFF’s organizational culture have room for improvement: (i) communications and (ii) other remote work challenges. GFF does not conduct regular team surveys. We think distributing regular culture surveys could help GFF to better understand their workplace culture and identify areas for improvement.
Overall, we think that GFF’s team satisfaction and morale are close to the average charity we evaluated this year.
One important part of acting responsibly toward stakeholders is providing a representative/diverse,25 equitable, and inclusive work environment. Charities that have a healthy attitude toward representation/diversity, equity, and inclusion (R/DEI) seek and retain team members and volunteers from different backgrounds. Among other things, inclusive work environments should also provide necessary resources for team members with disabilities, protect all team members from harassment and discrimination, and require regular trainings on topics such as equity and inclusion, in conjunction with year-round efforts to address R/DEI throughout all areas of the organization.
About 86% of team members that participated in our culture survey agreed that GFF has members from diverse backgrounds. GFF made an effort to increase representation/diversity through their recruitment process by encouraging men to apply, as most candidates are women, and by welcoming people from different religious backgrounds.
GFF does not have a workplace code of ethics/conduct but has a written statement that they do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or other characteristics. GFF does not have a written procedure for filing complaints, nor explicit protocols for addressing concerns or allegations of harassment or discrimination. In our culture survey, all respondents agreed that GFF protects team members, interns, and volunteers from harassment26 and discrimination27 in the workplace, and about 71% agreed that they have someone to go to in case of harassment or other problem at work. Our culture survey gives no evidence that GFF’s team members experienced or witnessed harassment or discrimination in the workplace during the past year.
GFF does not offer regular trainings on topics such as harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In our culture survey, 43% of team members agree that they and their colleagues have been sufficiently trained in matters of R/DEI. We believe that the opportunities for the team to learn about R/DEI at GFF should be increased.
Overall, we believe that GFF is as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as the average charity we evaluated this year.
Criterion 6: Strategy
Charities with a clear and well-developed strategy are more likely to be successful at setting and achieving their goals. In this section, we describe and assess each charity’s strategic vision and mission, plan, and planning process.
Given our commitment to finding the most effective ways to help nonhuman animals, we assess the extent to which the charity’s strategic vision is aligned with this commitment. We believe that their strategic planning should clearly connect the charity’s overall vision to their more immediate goals. Additionally, we assess the extent to which their strategic planning process incorporates the views of all their team members and board members and whether the frequency of this process is adequate, given the nature of their work. There are many different approaches to strategic planning, and often an approach that is well suited for one organization may not work well for others. Thus, in this section, we are not looking for a particular approach to strategy. Instead, we assess how well the organization’s approach to strategy works in their context.
GFF’s vision: “[M]indful food for a better world”
Strategic Position in the Community
We asked GFF how they see their organization’s work fitting into the overall animal advocacy community. They report that they see their position as advocating for a reduction in animal protein consumption.
Strategic Planning Process
Type(s) of plan: No formal strategic plan
Leadership team members’ role: The leadership team members are part of the team that will develop and finalize the strategic plan. The President will lead the work on the strategic plan.
Board of directors’ role: The board gives feedback on the last draft of the strategic plan.
Non-leadership team members’ role: Unknown
Goal Setting and Monitoring
GFF’s goals are monitored on an ongoing basis by the Executive Director. GFF also reports that assessments of their projects mostly happen during their internal weekly conference call. GFF also holds retrospective meetings—i.e., postmortems—following every major project.
GFF’s mission does not emphasize reducing suffering. However, we believe that, as a nonprofit based in China, they are limited in the scope of the mission they can specify. Still, it implies a transformation in the food system that will bring about large benefits for farmed animals by shifting markets toward plant-based foods. GFF’s mission also implies achieving benefits for other causes related to the food system, such as human health and environmental degradation, which can support the growth of the farmed animal advocacy community as a whole. We are uncertain about the extent to which they have a good understanding of their strategic position in the community, although this may be of less importance to GFF given the limited size of the animal advocacy community in China. GFF does not currently have a formal strategic plan; however, they are in the process of drafting one. In general, we think it is valuable for an organization to have a strategic plan to guide their actions. We believe that charities benefit from deliberately connecting their short-term goals to their organizational mission/vision and critically reflecting on their trajectory. If this high-level strategic thinking is not otherwise taking place at GFF, we think it is likely that they would benefit from a formal strategic plan. Their goals appear to be monitored frequently, and we think they have a strong approach to self-assessment. Overall, we think GFF’s approach to strategy is weak compared to other evaluated charities, given the context in which they operate and the type of work they do.
Criterion 7: Adaptability
A charity’s self-assessment should inform their decisions. This will aid them in retaining and strengthening successful programs and modifying or discontinuing less successful programs, and will enable them to see if or when it is necessary to change their organizational structures. When such systems of improvement work well, all stakeholders benefit: Leadership is able to refine their strategy, team members better understand the purpose of their work, and collaborators can be more confident in the impact of their support.
We have identified the following examples of how GFF has adapted to success and failure:
GFF reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed them to do more work.28 As they were not able to hold their 4th Good Food Summit in person, they changed it to a series of online events running from April through the end of the year, including some panels broadcast on China Global TV.
As a result of limited and restricted support, GFF’s leadership reported that some team members have become redundant—a lot of the support they receive is for specific projects, so if collaboration is not renewed for that particular project they either have to move the team member to another project or let them go.29 They report that they have typically found it difficult to receive support for general operating, though this has been more stable in 2019 and 2020.
Overall, we believe that GFF is just as able as the average charity evaluated this year to adequately respond to success and failure.
We consider an intervention to be weakly effective if we believe it is unlikely to have a positive impact on the relevant outcome. We consider an intervention to be moderately effective if we believe it has some positive impact on the relevant outcome, though relatively less than other interventions. We consider an intervention to be highly effective if we believe it has a clear positive impact on the relevant outcome.
We do not list any expansions beyond what the charity itself plans to implement. We acknowledge that charities may differ in how ambitious their reported plans are independent of what they can realize. Such a difference in reporting could bias our estimates of the room for more funding. To counteract such a bias, we indicate our confidence in whether the charities’ expansion plans could actually be realized. We refer to our evaluation of the effectiveness of GFF’s programs for an assessment of the effectiveness of their planned expansions.
For team growth and any non-team growth that is scalable with team members, we estimate confidence levels based on our researchers’ joint assessment of how feasible it is to find and onboard a certain number of team members dependent on the organization’s current size.
For staff expenditure and any non-staff expenditure that is scalable with staff, we indicate the proportion of the charity’s expansion plans that we are highly confident they’ll be able to achieve, the proportion we are moderately confident they’ll be able to achieve, and the proportion we have low confidence in. We generally have high confidence that reserves can be replenished if funds are available, and low confidence in the amount of unexpected expenditures the charity may have.
Good Food Fund (2020b) reports that the contest has attracted 12 million reads.
GFF reports that their Summit and projects related to the Summit were highlighted in in-depth stories that appeared in major national media, including the Southern Weekly (sometimes referred to as China’s New York Times) and the China In-Flight Magazine (a magazine that is carried on every Chinese commercial passenger aircraft).
For more recent achievements (2019–2020), see Criterion 3: Cost Effectiveness.
For more recent achievements (2019–2020), see Criterion 3: Cost Effectiveness.
While we are able to verify some types of claims (e.g., those about public events that appear in the news), others are harder to corroborate. For instance, it is often difficult for us to verify whether a charity worked behind the scenes to obtain a corporate commitment, or the extent to which that charity was responsible for obtaining the commitment.
We distributed our culture survey to GFF’s eight team members and seven responded, yielding a response rate of 88%. GFF has a very small team—three out of four core team members were identified as members of leadership—which could have affected the results of our survey.
We recognize at least two major limitations of our culture survey. First, because participation was not mandatory, the results could be affected by selection bias. Second, because respondents knew that their answers could influence ACE’s evaluation of the charity they work at, they may have felt an incentive to emphasize the charity’s strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
ACE uses the term “representation/diversity, equity, and inclusion (R/DEI)” in place of the more commonly used “diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).” While we acknowledge that the terms “diversity” and “DEI” are in the public lexicon, as the concepts have become popularized, “diversity” has lost the impact of its original meaning. The term is often conflated with “cosmetic diversity,” or diversity for the sake of public appearances. We believe that “representation” better expresses the commitment to accurately reflect—or represent—society’s demographics at large.
Our goal in this section is to evaluate whether each charity has a healthy attitude toward representation/diversity, equity, and inclusion. We do not directly evaluate the demographic characteristics of their team members.
We use the terms “representation” and “diversity” broadly in this section to refer to the diversity of certain social identity characteristics (called “protected classes” in some countries), such as race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender or gender expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, marital status, national origin, citizenship, amnesty, veteran status, political beliefs, age, ability, or genetic information.
In the culture survey we included the following definition of harassment: “Harassment can be non-sexual or sexual in nature. Non-sexual harassment refers to unwelcome conduct—including physical, verbal, and nonverbal behaviors—that upsets, demeans, humiliates, intimidates, or threatens an individual or group. Harassment may occur in one incident or many. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other physical, verbal, and nonverbal behaviors of a sexual nature when (i) submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; (ii) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the targeted individual; or (iii) such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”
In the culture survey we included the following definition of discrimination: “Discrimination is the differential treatment of or hostility toward an individual on the basis of certain characteristics (called “protected classes” in some countries), such as race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender or gender expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, marital status, national origin, citizenship, amnesty, veteran status, age, ability, genetic information, or any other factor that is legislatively protected in the country in which the individual works. ACE extends its definition of discrimination to include the differential treatment of or hostility toward anyone based on any characteristics outside of one’s professional qualifications—such as socioeconomic status, body size, dietary preferences, political views or affiliation, or other belief- or identity-based expression.”
The following materials are supplementary research documents associated with our charity review process and are referenced in the Comprehensive Review.