To end the abuse of animals raised for food.
Why did The Humane League receive our recommendation?
THL’s work to improve welfare standards, increase engagement in animal advocacy, and increase knowledge and skills for animal advocacy is highly promising because it focuses on animal groups, countries, and interventions that we consider high priority. Their work to improve farmed chicken welfare in the U.S. through corporate outreach, legislative outreach, and skill and network building is particularly likely to be impactful for farmed animals. While we expect all of our evaluated charities to be excellent examples of effective advocacy, THL is exceptional even within that group. Giving to THL is an excellent opportunity to support initiatives that create the most positive change for animals.
Are The Humane League’s programs cost effective?
After analyzing the recent achievements and expenditures of The Humane League’s programs, we assess that they utilize their available resources in a cost-effective manner. Of The Humane League’s achievements, we think the grants provided through the Open Wing Alliance are particularly cost effective because the direct and indirect impacts are particularly high compared to other achievements in the same intervention category. We predict The Humane League will use your donations responsibly.
How is The Humane League’s organizational health?
Organizational factors can influence a charity’s effectiveness and stability. Overall, our assessment showed that The Humane League has the key policies and processes in place necessary for healthy workplace conditions, governance, and staff engagement. See their comprehensive review for more details.
Why should you support The Humane League?
We estimate that The Humane League could effectively use $10,500,000 in additional donations (beyond their projected revenue) through 2025. With that funding, they plan to expand their Global Programs teams and the Animal Policy Alliance. By supporting The Humane League, you play a crucial role in helping them achieve their plans and creating a better world for farmed animals.
Read our comprehensive review of The Humane League to learn more about their work and our evaluation methods.
Support The Humane League or all of our Recommended CharitiesMake a Donation
At Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), we provide comprehensive reviews of all the organizations we recommend after conducting our yearly charity evaluations. During the evaluation period, our researchers thoroughly analyze publicly accessible information about each organization. Additionally, we ask participating organizations for supplemental materials and information to aid our assessments and help us identify the charities to recommend.
This review is based on our assessment of The Humane League’s performance on ACE’s four charity evaluation criteria. Each section of the review focuses on a different criterion: (i) Impact Potential, an overview of the charity’s programmatic work and an assessment of its impact potential; (ii) Cost Effectiveness, an analysis of the charity’s recent expenditures and achievements; (iii) Room for More Funding, an overview of the charity’s future plans and an estimate of how much additional funding they can effectively use in 2024 and 2025; and (iv) Organizational Health, an assessment of whether there are any management or governance issues substantial enough to affect the charity’s effectiveness and stability. Each of the four sections is divided into these subsections: Introduction, Our Method, Limitations of Our Method, Our Analysis, and Our Assessment of the charity in that criterion. Finally, we conclude with a summary of why we recommend this charity based on our evaluation.
Impact Potential: How promising are the Humane League’s programs?
With this criterion,1 we assess the impact potential (IP) of a charity’s programs without considering their specific program achievements. During our assessment, we analyze the groups of animals the charity’s programs target, the countries where they take place, and the intervention types they use. We also examine how the charity allocates expenditures among different animal groups, countries, and interventions. A charity that performs well on this criterion has programs with great potential to reduce animal suffering or improve animal wellbeing. The key aspects that ACE examines when evaluating a charity’s programmatic work are discussed in detail below.
Our Analysis of The Humane League’s Impact Potential
In particular, The Humane League focuses on helping farmed chickens, and some of their work aims to help farmed pigs and farmed fishes.
Fig. 1: The Humane League’s spending toward each animal group
In the table below, we report for each animal group our scores (on a 1–7 scale) for Scale, Tractability, and Neglectedness, as well as the general IP score and the uncertainty score. We also provide our overall impression of each animal group based on the latter two scores. For more details on how we scored animal groups, see the Prioritizing animals section.
|Animal group||Scale||Tractability||Neglectedness||IP Score||Uncertainty||Overall impression|
|Farmed chickens||4.1||6||5||5||2.8||High priority, moderate uncertainty|
|Farmed animals (general)||4.4||5.8||5.3||5.1||2.7||High priority, moderate uncertainty|
|Farmed pigs||3.2||5.8||4.8||4.4||4||High priority, high uncertainty|
|Farmed fishes||4.3||5||6.3||5.2||1||High priority, moderate uncertainty|
At the time of evaluation, there were THL entities in the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico. THL Mexico has since been closed.
The Humane League is a group of fully remote organizations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and formerly Mexico, with a team in Japan and individual team members in other countries. Some of THL’s work, such as work done through the Open Wing Alliance, is directed globally rather than toward specific countries. This work is listed below as “n/a.”
Fig. 2: The Humane League’s spending toward each country
In the table below, we report our scores (on a 1–7 scale) for Scale, Tractability, Global Influence, and Neglectedness, as well as the IP score and the uncertainty score for each country where The Humane League runs programs to help farmed animals. We also provide our overall impression of each country based on the IP score. For more details on how we scored countries, see the Prioritizing countries section.
|Country||Scale||Tractability||Global Influence||Neglectedness||IP Score||Overall impression|
|United States||5.5||6.6||6.9||4.1||5.8||High priority|
|United Kingdom||4.4||6.3||6.4||3.7||5.1||High priority|
The Humane League uses the following intervention types to improve welfare standards: corporate outreach, government outreach, and producer outreach. They also aim to increase engagement in animal advocacy by providing funding to animal advocacy groups and running social media and online ads. Additionally, they work to increase knowledge/skills for animal advocacy by engaging in skill and network building and conducting research.
Fig. 3: The Humane League’s spending toward each intervention
We use theory of change diagrams to communicate our interpretation of how a charity creates change for animals through interventions and outcomes. 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.
Fig. 4: The Humane League’s theory of change diagram
In the table below, we report for each intervention-outcome combination our scores (on a 1–7 scale) for Scale (short term), Scale (long term), Tractability, and Neglectedness, as well as the general IP score and the uncertainty score. We also provide our overall impression of each intervention type based on the latter two scores. For more details on how we scored interventions, see the Prioritizing interventions section.
|Intervention||Outcome||Scale (short term)||Scale (long term)||Tractability||Neglectedness||IP Score||Uncertainty||Overall impression|
|Corporate Outreach||Improvement of welfare standards||5.0||3.3||6||2.8||4.4||4.6||High priority, high uncertainty|
|Funding||Increased engagement in animal advocacy||4.5||5||5||6||5.1||5.1||High priority, high uncertainty|
|Skill and Network Building||Increased knowledge/skills for animal advocacy||4.8||5||4.5||4.8||4.8||5||High priority, high uncertainty|
|Government Outreach||Improvement of welfare standards||5.0||4||5.8||3.5||4.6||4.6||High priority, high uncertainty|
|Social Media and Online Ads||Increased engagement in animal advocacy||3.5||3.8||2.8||3.8||3.4||4.7||Moderate priority, high uncertainty|
|Research||Increased knowledge/skills for animal advocacy||5.0||5.8||4.5||6.0||5.3||4.1||High priority, moderate uncertainty|
|Producer Outreach||Improvement of welfare standards||5.0||3.5||6||3.5||4.6||5.4||High priority, high uncertainty|
Research on the impact potential of interventions
Below, we summarize the most relevant research on the effectiveness of each of these intervention types.
There is some evidence that corporate outreach can lead food companies to change their practices related to chicken welfare, and some cost-effectiveness estimates suggest that corporate outreach improves the welfare standards of farmed chickens.10
According to a 2019 report by Rethink Priorities, cage-free corporate campaigns are estimated to affect nine to 120 hen-years per dollar spent.11 Furthermore, the follow-through rate of cage-free corporate commitments is estimated to range from 48%–84%. A 2018 report by Founders Pledge estimated that The Humane League’s cage-free corporate campaigns affected “roughly 10 hen-years shift from battery cages to aviaries”12 per dollar spent. The report also estimated that there is a 60% likelihood that companies will follow through on cage-free corporate commitments. A 2021 meta-analysis that examined apparent higher mortality rates in cage-free housing systems concluded that mortality may increase during the transition process but should decline over time, as mortality and injuries are associated with operators’ lack of experience with the new system.13 A 2022 study by Rethink Priorities and The Humane League showed that the average effect of one more commitment in a country leads to a 0.035 percentage point increase in the proportion of cage-free housing in that country.14
ACE’s 2022 research brief suggests that if corporations follow through on their cage-free commitments, cage-free corporate outreach is likely to positively affect hen welfare because cage-free systems are higher-welfare than battery cage systems.
The 2019 report by Rethink Priorities also estimates that corporate campaigns to improve broiler chicken welfare affect anywhere from 0.2 to 90 chicken-years per dollar spent.15 Also, they estimate that the follow-through rate of broiler welfare commitments ranges from 1%–94%. The report notes that such commitments may include switching to higher-welfare but slower-growing chicken breeds, leading to improved welfare but also more days lived on factory farms.
A 2022 cost-effectiveness analysis suggested that cage-free corporate campaigns affect 501 to 846 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) per dollar spent, and broiler chicken corporate campaigns affect -3.31 to 102 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) per dollar spent.16
A 2022 Effective Altruism (EA) Forum post argued that although corporate welfare reforms might be an impactful and scalable approach to helping animals, the effective animal advocacy (EAA) movement was relatively overinvesting in this intervention.17 The post cites a 2021 analysis of EA funding within animal welfare, suggesting that three major funders (Open Philanthropy, the EA Fund, and ACE’s Recommended Charity Fund) spent an estimated 60% of their animal welfare grants from 2019–2021 on corporate welfare reforms.18
A 2022 blog post argues that there are inequities in how funding is distributed across animal advocacy organizations in the U.S. According to the author’s estimates, if the total revenue of the 15,000 registered and reporting U.S. nonprofits working on animal and environmental causes were divided equally by cause area, each organization would receive $1.3 million.19 However, this is far from reality: Among the animal organizations listed on Charity Navigator alone, more than 100 have expenses over $3.5 million, and 30 have expenses over $13.5 million. Most of these organizations focus primarily or exclusively on companion animal issues. Additionally, the author notes that organizations led by people of color are the most underfunded.
Skill and Network Building
The National Council of Nonprofits argues that capacity building enables organizations to develop the competencies and skills to make their team more effective and sustainable, thus increasing their potential to fulfill their mission and create change.20 They also suggest that networks can be especially effective for capacity building because they catalyze innovation, improve communications, reduce duplication of past mistakes, and spread ideas faster and more efficiently than other capacity-building approaches.21
ACE’s 2018 report on the allocation of movement resources suggests that capacity building is neglected relative to other interventions aimed at influencing public opinion and industry.
A 2012 article argues that investments in capacity building are an effective adaptation response to global change and that strong and well-supported scientific networks are an indispensable component of capacity building, as they are a key source for new knowledge that enables continual and dynamic adaptation practice.22
ACE’s 2022 research brief argues that animal advocacy organizations’ legal work to improve animal welfare standards can contribute to changes and modifications in the law, help ensure law enforcement, and motivate cultural shifts in societal attitudes toward animal welfare. The success of this legal work requires that such laws have a positive impact on the welfare of animals and that the work those organizations do contributes to the introduction of those laws.
A 2020 report by Charity Entrepreneurship examined two potentially high-impact policy work interventions: a governmental campaign for a dissolved oxygen bill for farmed fish in Taiwan, and a governmental campaign for hen feed fortification in India.23 The report concluded that the first intervention looks like a relatively promising, cost-effective intervention for improving farmed animal welfare, whereas the second is one of the less cost-effective interventions for animals that they have researched.
A 2022 report by Animal Ask advises against relying on estimates from published literature to estimate the effects of lobbying because the academic literature does not contain sufficient information to estimate the counterfactual impact of lobbying.24 Instead, the report suggests using other strategies, such as the intuition of individual researchers, expert judgment, and panels of superforecasters.
Social Media and Online Ads
A 2022 report by Faunalytics recommends social media posts as an effective animal advocacy intervention. According to their survey, 40% of respondents who remembered social media posts said that they reduced their animal product consumption. In their experiment, social media posts reduced self-reported animal product consumption by meat-avoiders (i.e., reducetarians, pescetarians, and vegetarians) but did not affect full meat-eaters. Additionally, social media posts did not tend to produce anger in their experiment, though they were average on the survey.25 A 2019 study proposes a theory of social media empowerment in which social media can allow individuals to assume a more proactive role in driving social movements.26
A 2021 study found that Mercy For Animals’ animal-based advertisements are more than twice as effective as environmental, health, and social ads.27
ACE’s 2021 research brief on conducting animal advocacy research suggests that it is a promising intervention, especially when considering its potential impact in the longer term. However, our confidence in the short-term effects of this intervention is low due to the lack of empirical evidence about the extent to which animal advocates use research results to prioritize and implement their work. Additionally, we note that the impact of research can vary significantly, with some research projects being far more influential than others. Researchers’ rigor seems to be a key factor in projects’ impact.
A 2022 essay argues that the research, measurement, and evaluation of farmed animal advocacy is severely underfunded, receiving only 3% of the total funding for improving the lives of farmed animals.28 The author largely attributes this to lack of knowledge about intervention effectiveness within the animal advocacy movement.
A 2020 semi-systematic review suggests that increasing farmers’ knowledge of farmed animal welfare is an important factor in influencing their views on farmed animal welfare.29 The review also suggests that the economic disadvantages of implementing farmed animal welfare are a major influencing factor in farmers’ views and behaviors to improve animal welfare.
A 2020 report by Charity Entrepreneurship suggests that subsidizing farmers in Vietnam to improve shrimp welfare by improving water oxygenation is a very promising intervention.30 It scored well under all their criteria and better relative to other interventions they had considered. A 2022 report by Charity Entrepreneurship suggests that improving fish welfare in the Philippines by reaching out to farmers could be promising and that improving water quality and stocking densities could be highly tractable and scalable approaches.31 Both reports conclude that they want to see another organization working on improving shrimp and fish welfare, respectively. However, they are less certain about what interventions these organizations should work on, what approach they should take, and where this work should be done.
The Humane League’s programs can be interpreted as 23 combinations of interventions used, countries where those interventions are conducted, and/or animal groups aimed to be helped. In the table below, we report the IP score (on a 1–7 scale, ranging from lowest to highest IP) for each intervention-animal-country combination that applies to The Humane League. Note that we did not produce any IP scores for synergy combinations that are not specific to a particular country. For more details on how we scored the synergy impacts, see the Assessing synergy section.
|Synergy combinations||% Annual Expenditures||IP Score|
|Corporate Outreach for Welfare Improvements to Help Farmed Chickens in United States||17.2||6.0|
|Skill and Network Building to Help Farmed Animals (General) in United States||13.0||5.8|
|Corporate Outreach for Welfare Improvements to Help Farmed Pigs in United States||4.9||5.0|
|Funding to Help Farmed Animals (General) in United States||4.0||5.5|
|Corporate Outreach for Welfare Improvements to Help Farmed Chickens in United Kingdom||3.2||4.5|
|Government Outreach in United States||2.5||5.5|
|Social Media Campaigns and Online Ads to Help Farmed Animals (General) in United Kingdom||2.2||5.0|
|Social Media Campaigns and Online Ads to Help Farmed Animals (General) in United States||2.1||5.8|
|Corporate Outreach for Welfare Improvements to Help Farmed Chickens in Mexico||2.7||4.5|
|Government Outreach to Help Farmed Chickens in United Kingdom||1.5||4.8|
|Government Outreach to Help Farmed Chickens in Mexico||1.3||4.0|
|Skill and Network Building to Help Farmed Animals (General) in United Kingdom||1.2||5.0|
|Corporate Outreach for Welfare Improvements to Help Farmed Chickens in Japan||1.0||5.5|
|Government Outreach to Help Farmed Fishes in United Kingdom||0.9||5.0|
|Social Media Campaigns and Online Ads to Help Farmed Animals (General) in Mexico||0.9||4.3|
|Research to Help Farmed Chickens in Mexico||0.4||4.8|
|Skill and Network Building to Help Farmed Chickens in United Kingdom||0.3||5.0|
|Producer Outreach to Help Farmed Chickens in Japan||0.3||5.3|
|Funding to Help Farmed Chickens||27.9||n/a|
|Corporate Outreach for Welfare Improvements to Help Farmed Chickens||6.2||n/a|
|Skill and Network Building to Help Farmed Chickens||5||n/a|
|Research to Help Farmed Chickens||1||n/a|
|Research to Help Farmed Fishes||0.3||n/a|
Our Assessment of THL’s Impact Potential
We estimate that about 98% of THL’s expenditures on programs go toward high-priority animal groups (farmed animals), at least 59.5% goes toward high-priority countries (United States, United Kingdom, Mexico [at the time of evaluation; THL Mexico has since been closed], and Japan),32 and 95% goes toward high-priority interventions (corporate outreach, funding, skill and network building, government outreach, research, producer outreach). Their corporate outreach work for welfare improvements to help farmed chickens in the U.S. and their skill- and network-building efforts to help farmed animals in the U.S. seem to have a particularly high impact potential.
In general, we are highly uncertain about work aiming to help farmed pigs33 relative to work targeting other animal groups. and about almost all interventions used by THL (relative to other interventions). The high uncertainty of helping farmed pigs is due to a high standard deviation (SD) in team IP scores, which can be interpreted as a relatively high level of disagreement among our team members in the impact potential of working to help this animal group. The high uncertainty about interventions is mainly due to the high SD of team scores, the low quality of research about the effectiveness of corporate outreach, and the relatively low quantity and quality of research about the effectiveness of funding.
Overall, we assessed the impact potential of THL’ programs as relatively high, with an overall IP score of 5.1 (on a 1–7 scale), placing them in the 3th quartile (top 50%) of the charities we evaluated in 2023. Based on the final uncertainty score, we assessed our overall uncertainty in THL’s impact potential as high. For more detailed information, see THL’s IP Assessment spreadsheet.
Cost Effectiveness: How much has The Humane League achieved through their programs?
With this criterion, we assess the effectiveness of a charity’s approach to implementing interventions, their achievements, and the costs associated with those achievements. Charities that perform well on this criterion likely use their available resources in a cost-effective manner. The key aspects that ACE considers when examining cost effectiveness are reviewed in detail below.
Our Analysis of The Humane League’s Cost Effectiveness
The following tables show The Humane League’s key achievements and achievement expenditures per intervention category from January to December 2022, the quantity of achievements per $1/$100,000, and the achievement cost-effectiveness score. The tables show the five highest-expenditure achievements per intervention category. For a full list of The Humane League’s achievements, please see their Cost-Effectiveness Assessment spreadsheet.
|Key achievements||Achievement expenditures (USD)46||$ provided||$ provided/$ spent||Achievement score (1–7)47|
|The Open Wing Alliance provided grants to support advocacy for farmed chickens||$5,721,134||3,460,000||0.6||5.7|
|Administered grants via the Animal Policy Alliance||$1,121,445||500,000||0.6||4.7|
Skill and network building
|Key achievements||Achievement expenditures (USD)||Number of individuals or organizations reached||Number of individuals or organizations reached per $100,000||Achievement score (1–7)|
|Ran the Open Wing Alliance||$2,104,042||96 organizations||4.5 organizations||4.5|
|Provided online and in-person training in organizing skills||$1,867,804||6,759 individuals||362 individuals||4.5|
|Launched the public policy program “Animal Policy Alliance”||$494,359||12 organizations||2.4 organizations||4.3|
|Ran the U.K. national Volunteer Program||$36,313||113 individuals||311 individuals||4.1|
Corporate outreach for welfare improvements
|Key achievements||Achievement expenditures (USD)||Number of companies targeted and commitments achieved||Number of companies targeted and commitments achieved per $100,000||Achievement score (1–7)|
|Achieved global cage-free egg commitments from 25 companies||$534,332||166 companies; 25 commitments||31.1 companies; 4.7 commitments||4.3|
|Secured various cage-free commitments internationally||$405,436||10 companies; 9 commitments||2.5 companies; 2.2 commitments||4.5|
|Joined with other advocacy organizations when running a cage-free campaign in Mexico||$275,223||1 company; 0 commitments||0.4 companies; 0 commitments||3.2|
|Got 21 companies to begin global progress reporting||$263,222||66 companies; 21 commitments||25.1 companies; 8.0 commitments||4.4|
|Secured 5 cage-free policies in Japan||$204,425||39 companies; 5 commitments||19.1 companies; 2.5 commitments||4.2|
|Key achievements||Achievement expenditures (USD)||Number of campaigns per $100,000||Achievement score (1–7)|
|Helped protect Proposition 12 and expand cage-free laws in the USA||$322,231||1.2||4.9|
|Campaigned for a cage-free egg production regulation in Mexico||$274,690||0.4||3.4|
|Pressured the UK Government to ensure specific stunning requirements for farmed fish||$160,917||0.6||3.8|
|Campaigned for a legal ban on cages for laying hens in the U.K.||$150,569||0.7||4.5|
|Formed coalition with producers to pressure the Mexican government to introduce cage-free legislation||$84,589||1.2||3.5|
Social media campaigns and online ads
|Key achievements||Achievement expenditures (USD)||Number of individuals reached||Number of individuals reached per $||Achievement score (1–7)|
|Ran the international Veg Advocacy video campaign to educate people internationally about factory farming||$401,307||57,227,067||142||3.0|
|Ran digital ad campaigns focused on diet change and other topics in Mexico||$62,139||176,973||3||2.3|
|Recruited new supporters for THL U.K.||$14,501||264,782||18||2.7|
|Key achievements||Achievement expenditures (USD)||Number of research projects||Number of research projects per $100,000||Achievement score (1–7)|
|Wrote report on aquaculture priorities to inform work in 2023||$77,234||1||1.3||5.6|
|Conducted research on the egg industry in Mexico||$65,787||1||1.5||3.2|
Our Assessment of The Humane League’s Cost Effectiveness
The Humane League’s overall cost-effectiveness score is 4.7, placing them in the 4th quartile (top 25%) among all charities evaluated in 2023. This score was reached by averaging the individual scores calculated for each achievement, weighted by the relative expenditures on the achievement.48 This overall score is an estimate of how well The Humane League has implemented their interventions from January to December 2022, taking their expenditures into account.
We think that out of all of The Humane League’s achievements, the grants provided through the Open Wing Alliance are particularly cost effective because both the direct and indirect impacts are particularly high compared to other achievements in this intervention category. In contrast, we think that The Humane League’s social media achievements are less cost effective, largely because we generally consider social media campaigns and online ads to be a lower-priority intervention.
We think our score may overestimate The Humane League’s cost effectiveness for the following reason: The grants administered through the Open Wing Alliance account for 28% of The Humane League’s program expenditures, and therefore account for 28% of their cost-effectiveness score. This achievement is among our highest-scoring achievements across all charities, but the long-term and indirect impacts are especially difficult to gauge. Overestimation of the impact of this achievement would have had a significant impact on the overall score.
We think our score may underestimate The Humane League’s cost effectiveness for the following reason: Running the Open Wing Alliance accounts for 10% of The Humane League’s program expenditures, and therefore accounts for 10% their cost-effectiveness score. We think that the score for this achievement likely underestimates the impact of the Open Wing Alliance. The achievement quantity score is low because, relative to expenditures, the Open Wing Alliance reaches fewer organizations than other charities in this intervention category. While the achievement quality score is high and somewhat compensates for the low quantity score, we don’t think it fully captures the particularly high level of engagement and support involved in overseeing a network of organizations, compared to merely being a member of one.
Our uncertainty in the cost-effectiveness score is moderate (below the median of all evaluated charities). This is based on a low amount of missing information when scoring achievements, mostly the uncertainty score of the relevant intervention categories, and the outcome of our verification process. Of the eight achievements selected for verification, four were verified as true, three were partially verified as true, and one was rated as unverifiable.
Room For More Funding: How much additional money can The Humane League effectively use in the next two years?
A recommendation from ACE could lead to a large increase in a charity’s funding. With this criterion, we investigate whether a charity would be able to absorb the funding that a new or renewed recommendation may bring, and the extent to which we believe that their future uses of funding will be as effective as their past work. All descriptive data and estimations for this criterion can be found in the model spreadsheet.
Our Analysis of The Humane League’s Room For More Funding
The chart below shows The Humane League’s revenues, expenditures, and total staff size from 2020–2022, as well as their own projections for the years 2023–2025.
Fig. 6: The Humane League’s financials and staff size (2020–2025)
Assessment of Projected Revenue and Expenditures
|Concerns about Alignment with Previous Projections55||Level of Concern about Charity’s Sustainability (1–7)||Reasoning|
|No||4||Projecting modest increases in revenue and expenditure|
We consider the charity’s projected growth (uncertainty level 4 out of 7) to be supported by contextual information and history. A more detailed summary of their financials, including breakdowns by intervention, animal group, and country, can be found in the “Overall Financials” tab of their model spreadsheet.
Assessment of Hiring Plans
|Year||# FTEs||Hiring plans||Uncertainty (1–7)|
|Projection for 2023||100.5||No projected hires||1|
|Projection for 2024||100.5||No projected hires||1|
|Projection for 2025||100.5||No projected hires||1|
A more detailed summary of their hiring plans and our reasoning behind their uncertainty scores can be found in the “Assessment: Hiring Plans” tab of their model spreadsheet.
Plans for expansion
The Humane League projects stability in their programs in 2023 through 2025, reflecting the economic outlook and challenges to key funders.56 The Humane League Japan is in the process of separating from The Humane League for strategic programmatic reasons; it will become an entirely separate organization with a new name and brand.
A more detailed summary of their future plans can be found in their model spreadsheet.
The Humane League shared that they could absorb a total of $13,000,000 beyond their most likely scenario projections while still meeting the high standards of their current programs and provided the following plans:
|Priority for Funds||Amount of Funds||Type of Work Funded||Uncertainty about Effectiveness of Plans (1–7)|
|1||$10,500,000||Global programs expansion||2|
|2||$2,500,000||Animal Policy Alliance expansion||3|
Based on these plans, which represent a major expansion of the current successful programs, and The Humane League’s conservative financial projections, we believe that the charity can effectively use approximately the above amounts in the next two years in a way that is as effective as their past work.
A more detailed summary of their plans for unexpected funding and the reasoning behind our uncertainty assessments can be found in the “RFMF Estimate” tab of their model spreadsheet.
With more than their target amount of 50% of annual expenditures held in reserves (as reported by The Humane League for 2023), we believe that they hold a sufficient amount of reserves.
Our Assessment of The Humane League’s Room For More Funding
Based on our assessment that they have sufficient reserves and our assessment of their plans to use unexpected funding, we believe that overall, The Humane League has room for $3,500,000 of additional funding in 2024 and $7,000,000 in 2025. These two figures represent the amount beyond their projected revenues of $20,745,285 and $21,240,285 in 2024 and 2025, meaning that we believe that they could effectively use a total revenue of up to $24,245,285 and $28,240,285.
Organizational Health: Are there any management issues substantial enough to affect The Humane League’s effectiveness and stability?
With this criterion,57 we assess whether any aspects of an organization’s leadership or workplace culture pose a risk to its effectiveness or stability, thereby reducing its potential to help animals. Problems with leadership and workplace culture could also negatively affect the reputation of the broader animal advocacy movement, as well as employees’ wellbeing and their willingness to remain in the movement. For example:
- Schyns & Schilling (2013) report that poor leadership practices result in counterproductive employee behavior, stress, negative attitudes toward the entire company, lower job satisfaction, and higher intention to quit.
- Waldman et al. (2012) report that effective leadership predicts lower turnover and reduced intention to quit.
- Wang (2021) reports that organizational commitment among nonprofit employees is positively related to engaged leadership, community engagement effort, the degree of formalization in daily operations, and perceived intangible support for employees.
- Gorski et al. (2018) report that all of the activists they interviewed attributed their burnout in part to negative organizational and movement cultures, including a culture of martyrdom, exhaustion/overwork, the taboo of discussing burnout, and financial strain.
- A meta-analysis by Harter et al. (2002) indicates that employee satisfaction and engagement are correlated with reduced employee turnover and accidents and increased customer satisfaction, productivity, and profit.
Our Analysis of Charity’s Organizational Health
People policies and processes
The policies that the charity reported having in place are listed below. They reported that they proactively make all of the relevant policies accessible to their staff.
|Has policy||Partial / informal policy||No policy|
|Paid time off|
|Paid sick days|
|Paid medical leave|
|Permission to use sick days for mental health purposes|
|Healthcare coverage or health insurance|
|Paid family and caregiver leave|
|Paid internships (if relevant)||N/A|
|Compensation strategy (i.e., a policy detailing how the charity determines their staff’s pay and benefits in a standardized way)|
|An anti-retaliation policy protecting whistleblowers and those who report grievances|
|Board meeting minutes|
|Conflict of interest policy|
|Records retention and destruction policy|
|A clearly written workplace code of ethics/conduct|
|A written statement that the charity does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or other irrelevant 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|
|Training on topics of harassment and discrimination in the workplace|
|Organizational design and communication|
|Clearly defined responsibilities for all positions, preferably with written job descriptions|
|Clearly defined objectives and expectations for all roles|
|Documentation of all key knowledge and information necessary to fulfill the needs of the organization|
|Mission and/or vision, defining the purpose and future of the organization|
|Clear organizational goals and/or priorities communicated to all employees|
|Performance and recruitment assessments|
|Annual (or more frequent) performance evaluations for all roles|
|Performance evaluation process based on predefined objectives and expectations|
|Annual (or more frequent) process to measure staff engagement or satisfaction|
|A process in place to support performance improvement in instances of underperformance|
|Learning and development|
|New hire onboarding or orientation process|
|Training and development available to each employee|
|A simple and transparent written procedure for employees to request additional training or support|
|Flexible work hours|
|Remote work option|
|Representation, equity, and inclusion|
|Process to attract a diverse candidate pool|
|Structured hiring, assessing all candidates using the same process|
|Standardized process for employment termination decisions|
|Two or more decision-makers for all hiring, promotion, and termination decisions|
The Humane League (THL) was transparent with ACE throughout the evaluation process.
THL UK does not list their board members, Senior Leadership members, or financial statements on their website (though their board members and financial statements can be found elsewhere online).
Leadership and governance
THL’s President is Vicky Bond, who has been involved in the charity for seven years.
The board of directors has eight members. The President does not sit on the board.
There has recently been a significant change in leadership at both THL and THL UK. In April 2022, THL’s President, David Coman-Hidy, left the organization, with Vicky Bond, the former Managing Director at THL UK, taking on the role. Sean Gifford was selected as the new Managing Director of THL UK.
After our evaluations process had been completed, THL México’s board of directors made the decision to close THL México due to unexpected resource challenges. Following discussion with THL’s leadership about the causes and impact of this decision, we decided that this did not change our decision to recommend them.
We found that the charity’s board aligned with our understanding of best practice. All of their board members are independent from the organization, board meetings take place four times per year, and the board has robust term limits and performance evaluation processes in place.
Among THL staff who responded to our engagement survey, the average score across questions regarding confidence in leadership and management was 4.3 on a 1–5 scale, indicating high confidence. 84% of respondents agreed with the statement “I have confidence in the leaders at our organization.”
THL UK is fully independent organizations, with independent board of directors, its own finances, its own strategic plans, and independent decision-making by local leaders based on local context. THL Japan is a program of THL and plans to fully separate from THL in 2023 due to strategic programmatic reasons. The same was true of THL Mexico, prior to its closure. THL fully funded THL Mexico, and partially funds THL UK. They share branding and other resources, and staff collaborate at times. THL and THL UK are in the process of creating agreements that clearly delineate what resources are shared and what resources are not.
Staff engagement and satisfaction
THL has 152 staff members (including full-time staff, part-time staff, and contractors).69 110 staff members responded to our engagement survey, yielding a response rate of 73%.
THL has 43 volunteers working at least five hours per week. Seven volunteers responded to our survey.
THL has a formal compensation plan to determine staff salaries. Survey respondents’ average score to questions regarding satisfaction with wage and benefits was 4.6 on a 1–5 scale, indicating very high satisfaction.
The average score across all questions was 4.5 on a 1–5 scale, suggesting that, on average, staff exhibit very high engagement and satisfaction.
Harassment and discrimination
Several THL employees (fewer than five), both current and former, have reported poor leadership and instances of hostile behavior by some senior leaders. After following up on these cases with THL’s leadership, we feel confident they were already aware of these cases and are taking serious action to resolve them. This action includes performance reviews and third-party investigations of the relevant staff members, as well as improving the transparency of their recruitment policies.
We also appreciated that THL’s leadership provided us with the high-level outcomes of a specific third-party performance review into some of these senior leaders.
Our Assessment of The Humane League’s Organizational Health
While we were concerned to receive the allegations mentioned above, we appreciated THL leadership’s transparency and willingness to respond to our concerns. Based on our discussions, we believe that THL is genuinely committed to addressing the issues raised and has laid out a plan of action to achieve this. For this reason, we do not have major concerns with the leadership or organizational culture at THL. Overall, based on our assessment of their organizational health, they appear to have strong policies and processes in place, with high levels of staff engagement. We also positively noted that THL’s People team is now fully staffed, after a period of understaffing, and it is in process of making THL’s policies more robust and consistent across the organization.
The Humane League’s work to improve welfare standards, increase engagement in animal advocacy, and increase knowledge and skills for animal advocacy is highly promising because it focuses on animal groups, countries, and interventions that we consider high priority. Their corporate outreach work for welfare improvements to help farmed chickens in the United States and their skill- and network-building efforts to help farmed animals in the United States seem to have a particularly high impact potential. We assess The Humane League’s recent work as highly cost-effective and believe they are in a strong position to use additional funding. These efforts are well-aligned with ACE’s organizational values and theory of change.
The Humane League performed very strongly compared to other charities we evaluated. During the decision-making phase of our evaluation process, we took into account their performance on our four evaluation criteria—Impact Potential (high), Cost Effectiveness (high); Room for More Funding across 2024 and 2025 ($10,500,000), and Organizational Health (see Organizational Health section for further details)—as well as our level of uncertainty in their scores. In this particular case, our uncertainty in The Humane League’s Impact Potential score was higher than our uncertainty in their Cost Effectiveness score, so we put more emphasis on the latter when making recommendation decisions. Overall, we find The Humane League to be an excellent giving opportunity for those looking to create the most positive change for animals.
To view all of the sources cited in this review, see the reference list.
This criterion was called Programs from 2020 to 2022. We decided to rename it Impact Potential to better reflect its focus on assessing the effectiveness of charities’ programs without considering their implementation. This name is more specific and less confusing internally, especially since we recently changed the name of our research team to the Programs team.
Rethink Priorities adjusted their welfare range estimates for use in ACE’s evaluations. Because ACE compares animal charities with each other rather than with human charities, Rethink Priorities reindexed the ranges to pigs instead of humans—see this page for more information.
The framework we used to prioritize countries only applies to farmed animal advocacy. We have not developed a framework to prioritize wild animal welfare work because there are very few organizations that work on wild animal welfare, and those we have considered so far are focused on indirect work such as research and academic development, which is less country-specific.
For example, when scoring the intervention category “apps and other digital resources,” we considered the following tractability proxies: the Global Innovation Index, Education (mean years of schooling), and Internet Penetration rate.
Capriati (2018) defined this as “an outcome as good as shifting ten hens from a battery cage to an aviary system for one year.”
Note that THL infrequently works on corporate commitments for pigs. When there is no additional cost or time, THL will include accountability on sow crate-free commitments alongside the Broiler Chicken Commitment and cage-free reporting.
We asked that reported achievements and associated expenditures amount to at least 90% of a charity’s total program expenditures during the reporting period. We also adjusted achievement expenditures by taking the charity’s reported expenditures and adding a portion of their non-programmatic expenditures (i.e., overhead or administration). This process allowed us to incorporate general organizational running costs into our consideration of cost effectiveness.
For more information about Weighted Factor Models, see Charity Entrepreneurship (2019).
We standardized this unit to achievements per one U.S. dollar or per $100,000, depending on which was easier to interpret, to allow for comparison across achievements. For example, we calculated how many individuals a social media campaign reached per dollar spent or how many legal actions a charity filed per $100,000 spent. For some intervention categories, the number of achievements was too low to normalize the achievement quantity. In these cases, we used the average of two researchers’ subjective assessment of the quantity on a 1–7 scale.
See here for the full rubric. Two researchers scored each achievement on the rubric, and discussed significant disagreements before a second round of revising scores. We averaged the two researchers’ scores for each factor. Where we did not have enough information to score an achievement, we set the corresponding factor weight to zero.
We defaulted to giving achievement quality 75% and achievement quantity 25% weight. In some cases, e.g., if we were particularly uncertain about the achievement quantity, we gave achievement quality a higher weight.
By using a multiplicative method, we avoid giving high scores to achievements that implement promising interventions poorly (i.e., high intervention score but low implementation score). Consider the example where a charity focuses on an intervention like cage-free campaigns, which has the potential to be highly impactful, but fails to achieve any significant commitments. With a weighted average approach, the charity would still receive a relatively high score despite an unsuccessful implementation of their campaigns. However, by using a multiplicative method, the overall score accounts for the interaction between intervention and implementation scores. This means that if the implementation quality is lacking, the overall score will appropriately reflect that.
We encouraged charities to give as much information as possible about each achievement. In order to protect their capacity, we also marked some questions as optional. Where we did not have the relevant information to score an achievement on a factor in the scoring rubric, this increased our uncertainty score for that achievement.
We increased the uncertainty score for charities that reported fewer than 10 achievements to account for the fact that measurement errors and uncertainties have a higher impact on the final score when fewer achievements are averaged.
For interested readers, we compiled a list of existing quantified cost-effectiveness estimates for animal advocacy interventions here. You can find our summaries of existing empirical research on the impact potential of interventions here.
For more information about Weighted Factor Models, see Charity Entrepreneurship (2019).
We adjusted the achievement expenditures charities reported to us by adding a portion of their overhead costs, weighted by the relative achievement expenditures, in order to take general organizational running costs into account in our cost-effectiveness assessment.
To calculate the achievement score, we multiplied the intervention score by the implementation score. We then min-max normalized those scores against all other achievement scores across charities and converted the result to a 1–7 scale.
This criterion was called Leadership and Culture from 2020 to 2022. We found that ‘leadership’ was often misunderstood as referring solely to the qualities of individual leaders and that ‘culture’ was understood in very different ways across countries and demographics. With the new name Organizational Health, we intend to highlight the broad focus of this criterion and to clarify that its goal is to identify any significant risks to the organization’s effectiveness and stability.
For example, in a study by Anderson (2020), 49% of paid animal advocates and 28% of unpaid animal advocates reported having experienced discrimination or harassment. Advocates who were members of a minoritized group (i.e., people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people) were significantly more likely to leave the movement as a result of discrimination than non-minoritized advocates.
Examples of such social characteristics include: 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.
ACE defines “harassment” as bullying, intimidation, and other behavior (whether physical, verbal, or nonverbal) that has the effect of upsetting, demeaning, humiliating, intimidating, or threatening an individual. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
ACE defines the “workplace” as any place where work-related activities occur, including physical premises, meetings, conferences, training sessions, transit, social functions, and electronic communication (such as email, chat, text, phone calls, and virtual meetings).
Charity Navigator defines transparency as “an obligation or willingness by a charity to publish and make available critical data about the organization.”
BoardSource (2016), p. 4
Anheier (2005), p. 370. More broadly, a review by Greer et al. (2017) maintains that teams with a high degree of power dispersion (meaning high power concentration vs. balanced distribution) have poorer outcomes and more unproductive conflict.
For example, see Mitchell et al. (2001).
The publicly accessible version of this form can be found via ACE’s Third-Party Whistleblower Policy on our website.