Animal Charity Evaluators Introduces the Recommended Charity Quiz

[Cross-posted from the ACE blog]

The fol­low­ing post was pub­lished on the An­i­mal Char­ity Eval­u­a­tors blog ear­lier this month. We’ve just re­leased a new recom­mended char­ity quiz that al­lows users to en­ter in their spe­cific prefer­ences and out­puts the best an­i­mal char­i­ties that cor­re­spond to those val­ues. We be­lieve that this is es­pe­cially ap­pro­pri­ate for effec­tive an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy char­i­ties, as there may be a higher level of var­i­ance de­pend­ing on ini­tial val­ues than there would be with hu­man-based char­ity com­par­i­sons.

When it comes to reach­ing out to non-EA au­di­ences, we be­lieve that us­ing quizzes like this may al­low us to con­nect more closely with ex­ist­ing an­i­mal ad­vo­cates who are as-yet un­fa­mil­iar with EA ideas like fo­cus­ing on just the “best” char­ity. We also want to be wary of rely­ing too closely on ex­pected value calcu­la­tions, since the cost effec­tive­ness es­ti­mates we use are ap­prox­i­ma­tions, fail to re­solve un­cer­tainty, and are sub­ject to bias, even though we do think they are use­ful for in­ter­ven­tion re­ports and char­ity eval­u­a­tions. For these rea­sons, we be­lieve that this new recom­mended char­ity quiz is both ap­pro­pri­ate and use­ful.

The re­main­der of this post is copied ver­ba­tim from the ACE blog, au­thored by ACE Re­search As­so­ci­ate Jamie Spur­geon.

We are ex­cited to an­nounce the launch of our recom­mended char­ity quiz. This quiz will al­low you to dis­cover char­i­ties that match your in­ter­ests and val­ues, de­ter­mined by some of the dis­t­in­guish­ing fea­tures of our recom­mended char­i­ties.

At ACE we are always look­ing for new ways to en­gage with our com­mu­nity and help donors con­nect with the most effec­tive char­i­ties. To this end, we re­cently re­leased an up­date to our char­ity com­par­i­son chart and now you can use the quiz to re­ceive a per­son­al­ized recom­men­da­tion of the three char­i­ties that best al­ign with your goals and in­ter­ests. While we think that read­ing our re­views is the best way to fully un­der­stand why we recom­mend our Top and Stand­out Char­i­ties, we rec­og­nize that read­ing all of our re­views may take more time than some read­ers have to in­vest. The char­ity quiz can help you to quickly iden­tify char­i­ties that you may be par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in, giv­ing you more time to ex­plore those or­ga­ni­za­tions in depth.

TAKE THE QUIZ!

The fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion is for those more in­ter­ested in fur­ther ex­pla­na­tions of the fac­tors ex­plored in the quiz. In gen­eral, the quiz aims to cap­ture in­di­vi­d­ual prefer­ences about char­ity fea­tures that aren’t clearly good or bad. By mea­sur­ing the rel­a­tive im­por­tance in­di­vi­d­u­als place on each of these fea­tures, we can iden­tify char­i­ties that closely al­ign with those prefer­ences.

How im­por­tant is a strong track record of suc­cess?

This fac­tor is di­rectly re­lated to Cri­te­rion 4 in our com­pre­hen­sive char­ity re­view pro­cess. Among the char­i­ties we eval­u­ate, there is a large dis­par­ity in the strength of their track records, and this is an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for some donors. A char­ity’s track record en­com­passes at least three fac­tors: (i) the length of time that the char­ity has been achiev­ing suc­cesses, (ii) the num­ber of suc­cesses they’ve achieved, and (iii) the mag­ni­tude of effect those suc­cesses have had in cre­at­ing change for an­i­mals.

The quiz ques­tion aims to de­ter­mine how im­por­tant the over­all effect of these fac­tors are to you, rel­a­tive to the other traits that make for a promis­ing char­ity. If you are a po­ten­tial donor, char­i­ties with strong track records may seem to be a safer op­tion as they ap­pear more likely to achieve fu­ture suc­cesses similar to those seen in the past. How­ever, some donors may not feel that track record is nec­es­sar­ily a strong in­di­ca­tor of fu­ture suc­cess, or they may sim­ply pre­fer to sup­port younger char­i­ties that could be work­ing in a par­tic­u­larly promis­ing area in which it is pos­si­ble they will have an even larger im­pact if suc­cess­ful.

Do you pre­fer to sup­port more es­tab­lished ad­vo­cacy meth­ods with a lower risk of failure, or would you like to sup­port ad­vo­cacy that is less es­tab­lished but may have a po­ten­tially larger im­pact?

There are other as­pects of char­i­ties’ work be­yond track record that af­fect the bal­ance be­tween risk (the chance of fu­ture suc­cess), and re­ward (the mag­ni­tude of that suc­cess). If we recom­mend a char­ity that we per­ceive to be higher risk, then it is of­ten be­cause we feel their po­ten­tial re­ward is higher, so these two in­di­vi­d­ual fac­tors tend to re­main rel­a­tively in bal­ance across all of our char­i­ties.

For ex­am­ple, a char­ity work­ing in re­gions where the an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy move­ment is less de­vel­oped, such as parts of South Amer­ica, may be con­sid­ered higher risk but also higher re­ward. They may find sev­eral ad­van­tages to their work:

  • Wages may be lower, al­low­ing them to achieve more with their budget

  • Proven meth­ods from coun­tries with more es­tab­lished an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy move­ments can be re-used (e.g., us­ing cor­po­rate out­reach cam­paigns to se­cure cage-free com­mit­ments for egg lay­ing hens)

  • In­ter­ven­tions such as in­ves­ti­ga­tions may have a higher im­pact, as they are less sat­u­rated in num­ber1

How­ever, there are un­known fac­tors in­volved with work in some South Amer­i­can coun­tries that may make it less tractable than it ini­tially ap­pears:

  • The pub­lic at­ti­tudes to­wards ve­gan ad­vo­cacy may be less fa­vor­able, or other un­known cul­tural differ­ences may af­fect in­di­vi­d­u­als’ re­cep­tivity to ad­vo­cacy messaging

  • The differ­ent le­gal situ­a­tion may pro­hibit the suc­cess of some in­ter­ven­tions (such as in­ves­ti­ga­tions and cor­po­rate out­reach)

  • The poli­ti­cal cli­mate may af­fect the like­li­hood that le­gal ad­vo­cacy work will be successful

Other ex­am­ples of char­i­ties that might be con­sid­ered higher risk/​higher re­ward in­clude char­i­ties that work on longer-term goals and those that are fo­cus­ing efforts on highly ne­glected groups of an­i­mals (such as fish). This quiz ques­tion aims to cap­ture each donor’s prefer­ence for higher vs lower risk/​re­ward.

Do you pre­fer to donate to char­i­ties with smaller bud­gets, or larger bud­gets?

Dur­ing our char­ity eval­u­a­tions, we have two main crite­ria in which we con­sider a char­ity’s bud­get—Cri­te­rion 1, which con­cerns the amount of room for more fund­ing that a char­ity has, and Cri­te­rion 3, which con­cerns the cost effec­tive­ness of the char­ity’s pro­grams. As it is ob­jec­tively bet­ter for a char­ity to have both a higher room for more fund­ing and a higher cost effec­tive­ness, these are not es­pe­cially use­ful met­rics for de­ter­min­ing a prefer­ence that our au­di­ence may have. How­ever, the ab­solute size of a char­ity’s bud­get of­ten comes with ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages, and the char­i­ties we recom­mend span a large range in this re­gard. For ex­am­ple, dona­tions to smaller char­i­ties will have a greater effect on that char­ity than a similar dona­tion to a char­ity with a much larger bud­get. Ad­di­tion­ally, smaller char­i­ties are more likely to be work­ing in novel ar­eas. On the other hand, char­i­ties that have a larger bud­get may be able to achieve things that smaller char­i­ties can’t, such as in­fluenc­ing large food pro­duc­ers in a cor­po­rate out­reach cam­paign.

How im­por­tant is it for a char­ity’s work to sup­port the an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy move­ment as a whole?

While most of our recom­mended char­i­ties work to di­rectly cause change for an­i­mals, there are some that also (or some­times solely) work to sup­port the move­ment as a whole. This in­cludes con­duct­ing and pub­lish­ing re­search, ei­ther in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other char­i­ties or through eval­u­at­ing their own pro­grams. It also in­cludes char­i­ties that take on a more or­ga­ni­za­tional role, pro­vid­ing sup­port to and helping co­or­di­nate the efforts of other char­i­ties in or­der to cre­ate a greater im­pact. Char­i­ties that are not as sup­port­ive of the move­ment, how­ever, may be less so be­cause they are work­ing in par­tic­u­larly niche or ne­glected ar­eas, and this may be of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to some donors. Some donors may also sim­ply pre­fer to sup­port char­i­ties that work more di­rectly to cre­ate change for an­i­mals.

Which types of an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy do you want to sup­port?

To mea­sure donors’ prefer­ences for par­tic­u­lar in­ter­ven­tions, we have di­vided up the types of an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy in­ter­ven­tions into three main groups: tra­di­tional ad­vo­cacy, in­sti­tu­tional ad­vo­cacy, and in­no­va­tive ad­vo­cacy.2 Tra­di­tional ad­vo­cacy in­cludes in­ter­ven­tions that have been com­monly used by the move­ment for more than 10 years and of­ten aim to cre­ate in­di­vi­d­ual changes in at­ti­tudes or be­hav­ior—such as the adop­tion of ve­g­anism. Th­ese in­ter­ven­tions in­clude leaflet­ing, protest­ing, and un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tions, among many oth­ers. In­sti­tu­tional ad­vo­cacy in­cludes any in­ter­ven­tions that tar­get in­sti­tu­tions—from large in­ter­na­tional cor­po­rate food pro­duc­ers to smaller in­sti­tu­tions such as schools and hos­pi­tals. Fi­nally, in­no­va­tive ad­vo­cacy en­com­passes more novel ar­eas of ad­vo­cacy—in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of cul­tured and plant-based meat, se­cur­ing le­gal rights for an­i­mals, and con­duct­ing or fa­cil­i­tat­ing re­search into wild an­i­mal suffer­ing. Th­ese tend to be more am­bi­tious ap­proaches that have large po­ten­tial for change, but that also have more un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing whether their end goals will be achieved.

Put­ting it all together

We have given each of our recom­mended char­i­ties fea­tured in the quiz a sub­jec­tive score for each topic that is cov­ered by a ques­tion or a par­tic­u­lar re­sponse. As you go through and spec­ify your prefer­ences, the quiz uses your re­sponses to weight the scores given to each char­ity. It then recom­mends the three char­i­ties that most closely al­ign with the prefer­ences you in­di­cated. Ex­press­ing a strong prefer­ence for a par­tic­u­lar ques­tion puts a higher weight on that fac­tor when calcu­lat­ing your matches.

If you have any fur­ther ques­tions, please leave a com­ment here or sub­mit a feed­back form at the end of the quiz. Don’t for­get to share your re­sults!

TAKE THE QUIZ!


  1. We ex­pect that the U.S. is reach­ing a point where the large num­ber of in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­leased means that fu­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tions are likely to start to have diminish­ing re­turns.

  2. It’s difficult to di­vide in­ter­ven­tions into dis­tinct cat­e­gories, as of­ten those cat­e­gories will over­lap. For ex­am­ple, while protest­ing and un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tions are ex­am­ples of es­tab­lished ad­vo­cacy in­ter­ven­tions, they are both also used to sup­port in­sti­tu­tional cam­paigns. How­ever, as mul­ti­ple an­swers can be se­lected for this ques­tion, we hope this won’t sig­nifi­cantly skew our quiz re­sults.