Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) evaluates animal advocacy organizations in order to find those that are able to do the most good with additional donations. Following anti-speciesist principles, we recognize that success can take many forms; we aim to compare these different types of successes by the amount of animal suffering they can prevent or reduce.
Our charity recommendation process involves several sequential stages, with new recommendations being released each year (usually in late November). Our goal is to identify the most effective animal charities, not to rate or grade all organizations. We consider a large number of groups in the early stages of our process, then a smaller number at each stage that follows, until we recommend a few groups that we are very confident are highly effective.
Fig. 1: Number of charities considered in each round of ACE’s evaluation process
We start by gathering a list of groups that are currently working to help animals and assessing which groups meet our criteria for basic consideration. We then invite a subset of charities from this list to be evaluated through a comprehensive review, during which we request information to get a fuller picture of the organization’s activities and how well they perform on our evaluation criteria. Finally, after a rigorous research process, we select the best of these organizations as Recommended Charities. Any organization we recommend retains its status for two years, after which we will evaluate it again.
Selection and Prioritization
We generate a list of organizations to consider by combining existing lists of animal advocacy organizations, organizations that we are aware of for other reasons (such as applicants for Movement Grants), and suggestions solicited from experts and submitted through our website. Suggestions for our next round of evaluations are welcome.
As we compile our list of organizations, we strive to include those that are focused on cause areas that we consider to be highly effective. In areas we consider to be less promising, we evaluate only those groups recommended to our attention. Therefore, while we hope that our evaluations cover a large percentage of groups focused on farmed animal advocacy and wild animal welfare, we omit many charities focused on companion animal welfare from consideration. As we conduct further research, we may revise our opinions on which areas offer the most effective ways of improving animal lives.
We filter down our list of organizations using iterative discussion and voting, including utilizing a quantitative model that prioritizes charities based on the regions they work in, and the specific animal group(s) their programs target,, as well as qualitative arguments for and against inviting each charity. Through several rounds of discussion and voting, the evaluations committee prioritizes charities to invite to participate in this year’s charity evaluations.
During our evaluation, we examine publicly available information and solicit materials and information from participating charities. ACE’s team then produces comprehensive reviews for charities we end up recommending, and summary reviews for other evaluated charities.
The finished product of each evaluation is a review or summary review of a charity’s performance on each of ACE’s evaluation criteria. Important components of these reviews include an assessment of the effectiveness of a charity’s impact potentia, a cost-effectiveness analysis of its recent work, an estimate of its ability to use additional funding effectively, and an assessment of its organizational health.
Before publishing a review or summary (along with relevant supporting materials), we share it with the charity for feedback and approval. If we are unable to produce a review or summary that accurately reflects our views and is acceptable to the organization being evaluated, we indicate that the organization withdrew from evaluation.
Our Recommended Charities are likely to demonstrate very high levels of effectiveness in terms of the quality and/or impact of their work, and they perform very well overall on our evaluation criteria (Impact Potential, Cost Effectiveness, Room for More Funding, and Organizational Health). Recommended Charities are excellent giving opportunities for donors who want to help as many animals as possible by supporting organizations that will use their resources thoughtfully and efficiently. They work in ways that are likely to produce the greatest gains for animals and have the ability to scale their work effectively when presented with unexpected funding.
We promote these organizations and encourage the public to donate to their programs. We use the amount of money that we direct to these organizations as a metric for the impact of our work.
This category consists of organizations that were selected for and participated in our evaluation process but did not receive a new or renewed recommendation. ACE intentionally limits the number of charities we recommend to encourage the channeling of relatively scarce animal advocacy funds to the few organizations that clearly demonstrate significant impact for animals. This means that we are unable to recommend all effective charities we evaluate. While these charities did not receive a recommendation from us in a particular year they still likely to run effective programs and engage in impactful work; however, other charities that we evaluated that year performed better on our evaluation criteria.