|Primary Work Area||Cultured and Plant-Based Food Tech|
What does New Harvest do?
New Harvest was established in 2004. They fund research in cellular agriculture, i.e., the development of animal products using cells instead of animals. Through grant programs, they fund graduate and postdoctoral research projects in the field of cellular agriculture, as well as undergraduate and master-level projects for researchers-in-training. They also carry out public engagement and community-building activities via their podcast, blog, research publications, and research summaries.
What are their strengths?
New Harvest’s research grants help to increase the availability of animal-free products, which we think is a high priority given its potential to positively impact farmed animal welfare. New Harvest’s plans and projections indicate they would be able to effectively utilize an increase in income. Staff members indicate that they are satisfied with their work, and that they perceive the organization is well led.
What are their weaknesses?
New Harvest’s community-building and industry-scoping programs have results that are indirect and long-term. Therefore, it is difficult for us to assess their effectiveness.
Why did we recommend them?
Developing and promoting alternatives to animal products is a promising way to transform the animal agriculture industry. We think that New Harvest’s work to conduct and fund research in cellular agriculture has the potential to increase the availability of animal-free products and strengthen the animal advocacy movement in the longer term. Additionally, New Harvest is one of few charities focusing on cell-cultured alternatives to animal products.
We find New Harvest to be an excellent giving opportunity because of their strong programs aimed at increasing the availability of animal-free products and strengthening the animal advocacy movement.
New Harvest was one of our Standout Charities from December 2015 to November 2017.
A charity that performs well on this criterion has programs that we expect are highly effective in reducing the suffering of animals. The key aspects that ACE considers when examining a charity’s programs are reviewed in detail below.
In this criterion, we assess the effectiveness of each of the charity’s programs by analyzing (i) the interventions each program uses, (ii) the outcomes those interventions work toward, (iii) the countries in which the program takes place, and (iv) the groups of animals the program affects. We use information supplied by the charity to provide a more detailed analysis of each of these four factors. Our assessment of each intervention is informed by our research briefs and other relevant research.
At the beginning of our evaluation process, we select charities that we believe have the most effective programs. This year, we considered a comprehensive list of animal advocacy charities that focus on improving the lives of farmed or wild animals. We selected farmed animal charities based on the outcomes they work toward, the regions they work in, and the specific animal group(s) their programs target. We don’t currently consider animal group(s) targeted as part of our evaluation for wild animal charities, as the number of charities working on the welfare of wild animals is very small.
We categorize the work of animal advocacy charities by their outcomes, broadly distinguishing whether interventions focus on individual or institutional change. Individual-focused interventions often involve decreasing the consumption of animal products, increasing the prevalence of anti-speciesist values, or providing direct help to animals. Institutional change involves improving animal welfare standards, increasing the availability of animal-free products, or strengthening the animal advocacy movement.
We believe that changing individual habits and beliefs is difficult to achieve through individual outreach. Currently, we find the arguments for an institution-focused approach1 more compelling than individual-focused approaches. We believe that raising welfare standards increases animal welfare for a large number of animals in the short term2 and may contribute to transforming markets in the long run.3 Increasing the availability of animal-free foods, e.g., by bringing new, affordable products to the market or providing more plant-based menu options, can provide a convenient opportunity for people to choose more plant-based options. Moreover, we believe that efforts to strengthen the animal advocacy movement, e.g., by improving organizational effectiveness and building alliances, can support all other outcomes and may be relatively neglected.
Therefore, when considering charities to evaluate, we prioritize those that work to improve welfare standards, increase the availability of animal-free products, or strengthen the animal advocacy movement. We give lower priority to charities that focus on decreasing the consumption of animal products, increasing the prevalence of anti-speciesist values, or providing direct help to animals. Charities selected for evaluation are sent a request for more in-depth information about their programs and the specific interventions they use. We then present and assess each of the charities’ programs. In line with our commitment to following empirical evidence and logical reasoning, we use existing research to inform our assessments and explain our thinking about the effectiveness of different interventions.
A charity’s countries and regions of operations can affect their work with regard to scale, neglectedness, and tractability. We prioritize charities in countries with relatively large animal agricultural industries, few other charities engaged in similar work, and in which animal advocacy is likely to be feasible and have a lasting impact. In our charity selection process, we used Mercy For Animals’ Farmed Animal Opportunity Index (FAOI), which combines proxies for scale, tractability, and global influence to create country scores.4 To assess neglectedness, we used our own data on the number of organizations that we are aware of working in each country. Below we present these measures for the countries that New Harvest operates in.
A note about long-term impact
Each charity’s long-term impact is plausibly what matters most.5 The potential number of animals affected increases over time due to population growth and an accumulation of generations. Thus, we would expect that the long-term impacts of an action would be likely 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.
Information and Analysis
New Harvest’s programs focus exclusively on reducing the suffering of farmed animals, which we think is a high-priority cause area.
New Harvest develops their programs in the U.S. and Canada. Although they do not have subsidiaries in other countries, they support work internationally.
We used Mercy For Animals’ Farmed Animal Opportunity Index with the suggested weightings of scale (25%), tractability, (55%) and influence (20%) to determine each country’s total FAOI score. We report this score along with the country’s global ranking from a total of 60 countries in the following format: FAOI score(global ranking). The U.S. and Canada have the following scores and rankings, respectively: 53.92(2) and 22.7(11). According to the comprehensive list of charities we are aware of, there are about 724 farmed animal advocacy organizations, excluding sanctuaries, worldwide. From this list, we found 220 in the U.S. and 29 in Canada. Thus, we believe that farmed animal advocacy in the U.S. is relatively tractable and influential, and that farmed animal advocacy work in Canada is relatively tractable, though not as influential.
Description of programs
New Harvest pursues different avenues for creating change for animals. Their work focuses on strengthening the animal advocacy movement and increasing the availability of animal-free products.
To 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 describe each of New Harvest’s programs, listed in order of the financial resources devoted to them in 2020 (from highest to lowest). We list major accomplishments for each program, if a track record is available.
New Harvest’s programs
Research for intervention effectiveness
Supporting research on cell-based alternatives
Although research is still required to optimize cell culture methodology—and consumer acceptance of cell-cultured food products could still increase—we expect that cell-cultured food is likely to cause a considerable decrease in demand for farmed animal products if it reaches price-competitiveness with conventional animal protein. In the long term, this reduced demand for animal-based products could weaken the animal agriculture industry.6
New Harvest leverages online outreach to raise public awareness about cell-cultured alternatives. We are unsure how effective online outreach is at creating measurable change for animals. However, we generally believe that online outreach could have strategic value, especially media campaigns that support other high-impact tactics.
There is currently no empirical evidence that reviews the effectiveness of movement building in animal advocacy. However, we believe that capacity-building projects have the potential to help animals indirectly by increasing the effectiveness of other projects and organizations.
Furthermore, building alliances with key influencers, institutions, or social movements could expand the audience and impact of animal advocacy organizations and projects, leading to net positive outcomes for animals. Additionally, ACE’s 2018 research and Harris7 suggest that capacity building and building alliances are currently neglected relative to other interventions aimed at influencing public opinion and industry.
We think that New Harvest’s Research Grants program and Cultured Meat Safety Initiative, aimed at strengthening the animal advocacy movement and increasing the availability of animal-free products, are particularly effective. However, there is little evidence supporting this claim.
We consider New Harvest’s work in the U.S. and Canada to be particularly effective based on the high tractability and global influence of farmed animal advocacy in the U.S. and the high tractability in Canada.
Overall, we think that all of New Harvest’s spending on programs goes toward strengthening the animal advocacy movement and increasing the availability of animal-free products, which we think are a high priority.
Room For More Funding
A new recommendation from ACE could lead to a large increase in a charity’s funding. In this criterion, we investigate whether a charity is able to absorb and effectively utilize funding that the recommendation may bring in or, if the charity has a prior recommendation status, whether they will continue to effectively absorb funding that comes from our recommendation.
In the following section, we inspect the charity’s plans for expansion as well as their financials, including revenue and expenditure projections.
The charities we evaluate typically receive revenue from a variety of different sources, such as individual donations or grants from foundations.8 In order to guarantee that a charity will raise the funds needed for their operations, they should be able to predict changes in future revenue. To estimate charities’ room for more funding, we request records of their revenue since 2019 and ask what they predict their revenue will be in 2021–2023. A review of the literature on nonprofit finance suggests that revenue diversity may be positively associated with revenue predictability if the sources of income are largely uncorrelated.9 However, a few sources of large donations—if stable and reliable—may also be associated with high performance and growth. Therefore, in this criterion, we also indicate the charities’ major sources of income.
We present the charities’ reported plans for expansion of each program as well as other planned changes for the next two years. We do not make active suggestions for additional plans. However, we ask charities to indicate how they would spend additional funding that we expect would come in as a result of a new recommendation from ACE, considering that a Standout Charity status and a Top Charity status would likely lead to a $100,000 or $1,000,000 increase in funding, respectively. Note that we list the expenditures for planned non-program expenses but do not make any assessment of the charity’s overhead costs in this criterion, given that there is no evidence that the total share of overhead costs is negatively related to overall effectiveness.10 However, we do consider relative overhead costs per program in our Cost-Effectiveness criterion. Here we focus on evaluating whether additional resources are likely to be used for effective programs or other beneficial changes in the organization. The latter may include investments into infrastructure and efforts to retain staff, both of which we think are important for sustainable growth.
It is common practice for charities to hold more funds than needed for their current expenses (i.e., reserves) in order to be able to withstand changes in the business cycle or other external shocks that may affect their incoming revenue. Such additional funds can also serve as investments into future projects in the long run. Thus, it can be effective to provide a charity with additional funds to secure the stability of the organization or provide funding for larger, future projects. We do not prescribe a certain share of reserves, but we suggest that charities hold reserves equal to at least one year of expenditures, and we increase a charity’s room for more funding if their reserves in 2021 are less than 100% of their total expenditure.
Finally, we aggregate the financial information and the charity’s plans to form an assessment of their room for more funding. All descriptive data and estimations can be found in this sheet. Our assessment of a charity’s ability to effectively absorb additional funding helps inform our recommendation decision.
Information and Analysis
The chart below shows New Harvest’s revenues, expenditures, and net assets from 2019–2020, as well as projections for the years 2021–2023. The information is based on the charity’s past financial data and their own predictions for the years 2021–2023.
New Harvest receives the majority of their income from donations and less than 1% from their own work and capital investments combined.11 In 2020, they received 61.9% of their funding from donations larger than 20% of their annual revenue.
According to New Harvest’s reported projections, their estimated revenue in 2022 exceeds their expenditures by $500,00012 and thereby will sufficiently cover their expenditures.
New Harvest outlined that if they were to spend an additional $100,000 per year, it would be focused on hiring two additional team members. If they were to receive an additional $1,000,000 in funding, it would be focused on i) building relationships with value-aligned individuals, (ii) giving out more grants, (iii) hiring five additional team members, (iv) organizing a conference, and (v) registering in Europe. We believe these expenditures are an effective use of funding and expect that New Harvest could effectively absorb at least an additional $1,000,000 per year.
With more than 100% of their current annual expenditures held in net assets—as projected by New Harvest for 2021—we believe that they hold a sufficient amount of reserves.13
Below we list New Harvest’s plans for expansion for each program as well as other planned expenditures, such as administrative costs, wages, and training. We do not verify the feasibility of the plans or the specifics of how changes in expenditure will cover planned expansions. Reported changes in expenditure is based on New Harvest’s own estimates of change in program expenditures for 2021–2022 and 2022–2023.
New Harvest plans to expand their research grants and programming, public engagement, and community-building programs. More details can be found in the corresponding estimation sheet and the supplementary materials. Readers may also consult New Harvest’s strategic plan.
New Harvest plans to focus future expansions on research grants and programming, public engagement, and community-building programs.
Based on New Harvest’s own projections that their revenue will cover their expenditures and our assessment that they could effectively absorb an additional $1,000,000, we believe that overall, New Harvest has room for $500,000 of additional funding in 2022 and $500,000 in 2023. See our Programs criterion for our assessment of the effectiveness of their programs.
It is possible that a charity could run out of room for funding more quickly than we expect, or that they could come up with good ways to use funding beyond what we expect. If a charity receives a recommendation as Top Charity, we check in mid-year about the funding they’ve received since the release of our recommendations, and we use the estimates presented above to indicate whether we still expect them to be able to effectively absorb additional funding at that time.
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 donations to 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 outputs they have achieved in each of their main programs during that time. We seek to understand whether each charity has been successful at implementing their programs in the recent past and whether past successes were achieved at a reasonable cost. We only complete an assessment of cost effectiveness for programs that started in 2019 or earlier and that have expenditures totaling at least 10% of the organization’s annual budget.
Below, we report what we believe to be the key outputs of each program (for a complete list of outputs reported by New Harvest, see this document), as well as the total program expenditures. To estimate total program expenditures, we take the reported expenditures for each program and add a portion of their non-program expenditures weighted by the size of the program. This allows us to incorporate general organizational running costs into our consideration of cost effectiveness.
We spend a significant portion of our time during the evaluation process verifying the outputs charities report to us. We do this by (i) searching for independent sources that can help us verify claims, and (ii) directing follow-up questions to charities to gather more information. We adjusted some of the reported claims based on our verification work.
Information and Analysis
Overview of expenditures
The following chart shows New Harvest’s total program expenditures from January 2020 – June 2021.
The majority of impacts that New Harvest’s research program outputs have on animals are indirect and may happen in the future; as such, their cost effectiveness is difficult to assess using our methods. Given the outputs achieved using the stated expenditures per program, we do not have concerns about the cost effectiveness of New Harvest’s programs.
Leadership and Culture
A charity that performs well on this criterion has strong leadership and a healthy organizational culture. The way an organization is led affects its organizational culture, which in turn impacts the organization’s effectiveness and stability.15 The key aspects that ACE considers when examining leadership and culture are reviewed in detail below.
We review aspects of organizational leadership and culture by capturing staff and volunteer perspectives via our culture survey, in addition to information provided by top leadership staff (as defined by each charity).
First, we consider key information about the composition of leadership staff and board of directors. There appears to be no consensus in the literature on the specifics of the relationship between board composition and organizational performance,16 therefore we refrain from making judgements on board composition. However, because donors may have preferences on whether the Executive Director (ED) or other top executive staff are board members or not, we note when this is the case. According to the Council on Foundations,17 risks of EDs serving as board members include conflicts of interest when the board sets the ED’s salary, complicated reporting relationships, and blurred lines between governing bodies and staff. On the other hand, an ED that is part of a governing board can provide context about day-to-day operations and ultimately lead to better-informed decisions, while also giving the ED more credibility and authority.
We also consider information about leadership’s commitment to transparency by looking at available information on the charity’s website, such as key staff members, financial information, and board meeting notes. We require organizations selected for evaluation to be transparent with ACE throughout the process. Although we value transparency, we do not expect all organizations to be transparent with the public about sensitive information. For example, we recognize that organizations and individuals working in some regions or on some interventions could be harmed by making information about their work public. In these cases, we favor confidentiality over transparency.
In addition, we utilize our culture survey to ask staff to identify the extent to which they feel that leadership is competently guiding the organization.
We ask organizations undergoing evaluation to provide a list of their human resources policies, and we elicit the views of staff and volunteers through our culture survey. Administering ACE’s culture survey to all staff members, as well as volunteers working at least 20 hours per month, is an eligibility requirement to be recommended as an ACE Top or Standout Charity. However, ACE does not require individual staff members or volunteers at participating charities to complete the survey. We recognize that surveying staff and volunteers could (i) lead to inaccuracies due to selection bias, and (ii) may not reflect employees’ true opinions as they are aware that their responses could influence ACE’s evaluation of their employer. In our experience, it is easier to assess issues with an organization’s culture than it is to assess how strong an organization’s culture is. Therefore, we focus on determining whether there are issues in the organization’s culture that have a negative impact on staff productivity and well-being.
We assume that employees in the nonprofit sector have incentives that are material, purposive, and solidary.18 Since nonprofit sector wages are typically below for-profit wages, our survey elicits wage satisfaction from all staff. We also ask organizations to provide volunteer hours, because due to the absence of a contract and pay, volunteering may be a special case of uncertain work conditions. Additionally, we request the organization’s benefit policies regarding time off, health care, and training and professional development. As policies vary across countries and cultures, we do not evaluate charities based on their set of policies and do not expect effective charities to have all policies in place.
To capture whether the organization also provides non-material incentives, e.g., goal-related intangible rewards, we elicit employee engagement using the Gallup Q12 survey. We consider an average engagement score below the median value (i.e., below four) of the scale a potential concern.
ACE believes that the animal advocacy movement should be safe and inclusive for everyone. Therefore, we also collect information about policies and activities regarding representation/diversity, equity, and inclusion (R/DEI). 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).19 Additionally, we believe that effective charities must have human resources policies against harassment20 and discrimination,21 and that cases of harrassment and discrimination in the workplace should be addressed appropriately. If a specific case of harassment or discrimination from the last 12 months is reported to ACE by several current or former staff members or volunteers at a charity, and said case remains unaddressed, the charity in question is ineligible to receive a recommendation from ACE.
Information and Analysis
In this section, we list each charity’s President (or equivalent) and/or Executive Director (or equivalent), and we describe the board of directors. This is completed for the purpose of transparency and to identify the relationship between the ED and board of directors.
- Executive Director (ED): Isha Datar, involved in the organization for eight years
- Number of members on board of directors: seven members, including Executive Director Isha Datar
New Harvest did not have a transition in leadership in the last year.
All of the staff respondents to our culture survey agreed that New Harvest’s leadership team guides the organization competently.
New Harvest has been transparent with ACE during the evaluation process. In addition, New Harvest’s audited financial documents are available on the charity’s website or GuideStar. Lists of board members and key staff members are available on the charity’s website.
New Harvest had 11 staff (including full-time, part-time, and contractors) and no volunteers at the time we distributed our culture survey. Ten staff responded to our survey, yielding response rates of 91%.
New Harvest has a formal compensation plan to determine staff salaries. All of the staff that responded to our survey report that they are at least somewhat satisfied with their wage and benefits. New Harvest offers unlimited days of paid time off per year and one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours. Additional policies are listed in the table below.
General compensation policies
|Has policy||Partial / informal policy||No policy|
|A formal compensation policy to determine staff salaries|
|Paid time off|
|Sick days and personal leave|
|Paid family and medical leave|
|Clearly defined essential functions for all positions, preferably with written job descriptions|
|Annual (or more frequent) performance evaluations|
New Harvest let us know that they will start performance evaluations in 2022
|Formal onboarding or orientation process|
|Funding for training and development consistently available to each employee|
|Simple and transparent written procedure for employees to request further training or support|
|Flexible work hours|
|Remote work option|
|Paid internships (if possible and applicable)|
The average score in our engagement survey is 6.6 (on a 1-7 scale), suggesting that on average, staff do not exhibit a low engagement score. New Harvest has staff policies against harassment and discrimination. None of the staff report that they have experienced or witnessed harassment or discrimination at their workplace during the last twelve months. See all other related policies in the table below.
Policies related to representation/diversity, equity, and inclusion (R/DEI)
|Has policy||Partial / informal policy||No policy|
|A clearly written workplace code of ethics/conduct|
|A written statement that the organization does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or other characteristics|
|A simple and transparent written procedure for filing complaints|
|Mandatory reporting of harassment and discrimination through all levels, up to and including the board of directors|
|Explicit protocols for addressing concerns or allegations of harassment or discrimination|
|Documentation of all reported instances of harassment or discrimination, along with the outcomes of each case|
|Regular trainings on topics such as harassment and discrimination in the workplace|
|An anti-retaliation policy protecting whistleblowers and those who report grievances|
We did not detect any major concerns in New Harvest’s leadership and organizational culture. We positively noted that New Harvest’s staff generally agree that leadership guides the organization competently, that team members do not experience harrassment or discrimination in the workplace, and that team members seem engaged and satisfied with their job.
On average, our team considers advocating for welfare improvements to be a positive and promising approach. However, there are different viewpoints within ACE’s research team on the effect of advocating for animal welfare standards on the spread of anti-speciesist values. There are concerns that arguing for welfare improvements may lead to complacency related to animal welfare and give the public an inconsistent message—e.g., see Wrenn (2012). In addition, there are concerns with the alliance between nonprofit organizations and the companies that are directly responsible for animal exploitation, as explored in Baur and Schmitz (2012).
The weightings used for calculating these country scores are scale (25%), tractability (55%), and regional influence (20%).
For arguments supporting the view that the most important consideration of our present actions should be their impact in the long term, see Greaves & MacAskill (2019) and Beckstead (2019).
To be selected for evaluation, we require that a charity has a revenue of at least about $50,000 and faces no country-specific regulatory barriers to receiving money from ACE.
New Harvest notes that $2,725,000 of their assets is in stock for Clara Foods and Perfect Day. As neither of these companies have gone public, New Harvest would have to sell the stocks on a secondary market to access the funds. This may result in a loss of their potential value and negative tax implications.
To estimate their expenditures, we took their reported expenditures for this program and added a portion of their general non-program expenditures weighted by the size of this program compared to their other programs. This allowed us to incorporate their general organizational running costs into our consideration of their cost effectiveness.
Clark and Wilson (1961), as cited in Rollag (n.d.)
Examples of such social identity characteristics are: 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, and genetic information.
Harassment can be non-sexual or sexual in nature: ACE defines non-sexual harassment as unwelcome conduct—including physical, verbal, and nonverbal behavior—that upsets, demeans, humiliates, intimidates, or threatens an individual or group. Harassment may occur in one incident or many. ACE defines sexual harassment 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.
ACE defines discrimination as the unjust or prejudicial 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, political beliefs, age, ability, or genetic information.
The following materials are supplementary research documents associated with our charity review process and are referenced in the comprehensive review.
- New Harvest Program Outputs (2021)
- New Harvest Grants Programs
- New Harvest Program 2: Cultured Meat Safety Publication
- New Harvest Program 2: Cultured Meat Safety Workshops Participants List
- 2021 Reference List for New Harvest
- New Harvest's Reporting of Programs, Financials, Leadership, and Culture (2021)