Part of our goal as a research organization is to develop methods for evaluating interventions and charities. The methods we’ve developed are tools that can be applied by ACE and by others to understand a variety of situations, and while they often draw from other evaluative practices, ACE uses them in specific and sometimes unique ways. These pages offer details on certain aspects of our evaluative process.
The process by which a charity or intervention creates change for animals can be complicated and difficult to understand. To communicate our assumptions about how change occurs, we use theory of change diagrams.
This menu of outcomes was developed to inform Animal Charity Evaluators’ charity evaluations and grant-making activities and to support animal advocates in better defining and evaluating their advocacy outcomes.
One way that we evaluate interventions or charities quantitatively is by calculating a cost-effectiveness estimate (CEE) in terms of “lives spared per dollar” or “years of suffering averted per dollar.” On this page, we describe our process for developing CEEs and the role that they play in our intervention reports and charity evaluations.
Animal advocacy organizations use a wide variety of tactics to address many forms of animal suffering. Identifying which methods most efficiently solve which problems is thus a key step in comparing programs and organizations. To find these methods, ACE researches the effectiveness of various tactics and interventions intended to improve the lives of animals. This research helps us identify the strongest animal advocacy programs, and can provide guidance to animal advocates in deciding which course to pursue. As such, we prioritize evaluating interventions with the potential to be highly cost effective and about which we believe there is ample information available.
ACE prioritizes among animal causes in order to direct our research to the areas in which it can do the most good. We’re not able to thoroughly review each of the thousands of animal-focused charities in the world, so we narrow our focus to the causes we find most promising in order to have the best chance of identifying charities and interventions that are exceptionally effective.
In principle, ACE would consider evaluating and recommending any charity working to help nonhuman animals. However, for practical reasons, we focus on cause areas that we believe are especially promising: those that are large in scale, highly tractable, and relatively neglected. On this page, we describe some common animal advocacy cause areas. We begin with causes that we prioritize and close with some that we do not prioritize—usually because they are smaller in scope, less tractable, and/or less neglected.
We use subjective confidence intervals (SCIs) in our work to identify the best ways to help animals. Here we explain what our SCIs are and how we use them, and provide some simple and detailed examples to help clarify possible points of confusion.