Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement?

Authors of the re­search: Joey Savoie, Karolina Sarek, David Moss

When recom­mend­ing differ­ent char­i­ties to found in the field of an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy, a unique ques­tion to con­sider is what an­i­mals should be pri­ori­tized. For some in­ter­ven­tions, this ques­tion is not nec­es­sary. For ex­am­ple, when “stun­ning be­fore slaugh­ter laws” were passed in the EU it af­fected a great va­ri­ety of an­i­mals. On the other hand, though, re­cent cage-free cam­paigns tar­geted bat­tery cage chick­ens’ welfare con­cerns, in­stead of cows’, pigs’ or fish welfare. This leaves us with the ques­tion of which an­i­mals should be our top pri­or­ity for new char­i­ties. A perfect gen­eral pri­ori­ti­za­tion does not seem pos­si­ble, as some in­ter­ven­tions will work bet­ter for cer­tain (for ex­am­ple, cute) an­i­mals than oth­ers. Broadly speak­ing, how­ever, it does still seem like some an­i­mals will end up be­ing a higher pri­or­ity across many in­ter­ven­tions. There are a few differ­ent fac­tors we con­sid­ered when pri­ori­tiz­ing be­tween an­i­mals, in­clud­ing:

  • Num­ber of an­i­mals
    For ex­am­ple, there are many more farmed fish than turkeys in the world.

  • Amount of suffer­ing per an­i­mal
    For ex­am­ple, fac­tory farmed hens have a much worse life than fac­tory farmed cows. This was calcu­lated by us­ing our welfare points sys­tem.

  • Amount of suffer­ing caused by a smaller num­ber of spe­cific rea­son­s
    For ex­am­ple, fac­tory-farmed fish seem to have rel­a­tively few changes that could greatly change their welfare, whereas wild bugs have a more di­verse set of challenges.

  • Ne­glect­ed­ness
    For ex­am­ple, pet dogs get far more at­ten­tion than fac­tory farmed pigs.

  • An­i­mal’s prob­a­bil­ity of sen­tience
    For ex­am­ple, it’s more likely that cows are sen­tient than in­sects.

Click to view the report

​There are many other fac­tors that could be con­sid­ered but these fac­tors end up cov­er­ing a lot of ground. They can be com­bined to cre­ate a promis­ing­ness rank­ing for a given an­i­mal. This promis­ing­ness rank­ing could di­rect fu­ture re­sources and efforts (for ex­am­ple, the next tar­get of a cor­po­rate cam­paign). Over­all, when con­sid­er­ing all of these fac­tors, we end up think­ing the above list roughly rep­re­sents the or­der of pri­or­ity within an­i­mals.

Based off of this sys­tem, we think fish (both wild and fac­tory farmed), turkeys, wild bugs, broiler chick­ens, and wild rats are the top pri­or­ity an­i­mals for new char­i­ties to fo­cus on.


If you want to re­ceive in­for­ma­tion about our lat­est re­ports and be the first to know when we will start ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions to our in­cu­ba­tion pro­gram, sub­scribe to Char­ity En­trepreneur­ship’s newslet­ter.