People at GiveWell state that they base their recommendations on four criteria: evidence of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, room for more funding, and transparency. For ACE, as you reminded us here, there are seven criteria, including:
“6. Does the charity have strong leadership and a well-developed strategic vision? A charity that meets this criterion has leaders who seem competent and well-respected. The charity’s overall mission puts a strong emphasis on effectively reducing suffering, and the charity responds to new evidence with that goal in mind, revisiting their strategic plan regularly to ensure they stay aligned with that mission.
“7. Does the charity have a healthy culture and a sustainable structure? A charity that meets this criterion is stable and sustainable under ordinary conditions, and seems likely to survive the transition should some of the current leadership move on to other projects. The charity acts responsibly to stakeholders including staff, volunteers, donors, and others in the community. In particular, staff and volunteers develop and grow as advocates due to their relationship with the charity.”
I have some questions about this.
1) Would you agree that your evaluation criteria are different from those at GiveWell? If so, do you think that one organization should update its criteria? Or is it that the criteria should be different depending on whether we consider human or non-human animals?
2) W.r. to point 6: if a charity does outstanding work, but happens to not emphasize effectively reducing suffering in its mission statement (e.g. they emphasize a proximal goal which turns out to be useful for the reduction of animal suffering), would that be a reason to downgrade its evaluation?
3) W.r. to point 7: if a charity does outstanding work, but staff and volunteers do not become advocates due to their relationship with the charity, would that be a reason to downgrade its evaluation?
1- Yes, our criteria are different from GiveWell’s. As John alluded to in his original post, our work is quite different from GiveWell’s in a number of ways. For one thing, there is generally much less evidence available about the cost-effectiveness of animal advocacy interventions than about the cost-effectiveness of direct health interventions. As a result, our models of average cost-effectiveness are much less certain than GiveWell’s, which is one reason why we rely more heavily on other indicators of marginal cost-effectiveness. It’s possible that GiveWell could also benefit from considering some of the other criteria we consider, but I’m not enough of an expert on their work to be comfortable drawing that conclusion.
2- We look for charities that emphasize effectively reducing suffering in their mission statement so that we can be confident that their future activities will still align with that goal. Suppose a charity does outstanding work influencing diet change/meat reduction, but they do it with the goal of improving human health. We would be concerned that such a charity could dramatically shift their activities if something caused their mission to be less aligned with ours (for instance, if new research suggested that meat is good for human health). This concern wouldn’t necessarily prevent us from recommending the charity, but it would factor into our decision.
3- As above, this is a concern that would factor into our decision but it wouldn’t necessarily prevent us from recommending a charity.