This is the 8th post in the Working At EA Organizations series which I started in autumn 2015. The posts so far:
The following are my notes from an interview with ACE’s executive director Jon Bockman, which he reviewed before publishing.
Mission and current projects
ACE is looking for and promoting the most effective ways to help animals. They do this by doing research into charities and interventions as well as giving advocacy advice to animal rights organizations.
ACE’s updates goals for 2016 can be found here along with a detailed Gantt chart. Next to the main activities, more staff time will go into making case studies of social justice movements (more info in the 2016 research plan). In November, ACE is going to organize an academic conference to bring advocates and researchers together and encourage research that is useful for animal advocacy (while also helping researchers further their personal goals). In addition, they plan to do more promotion, by speaking at four conferences and building media contacts.
The team currently consists of 8 paid staff of or 5.625 full-time equivalents, all working from home.
In 2015, ACE moved $826,000 to effective animal charities, almost six times the amount of 2014, with operating expenses of only $141,106. They also updated their top charities and standout charities and doubled the size of the team. More info can be found in the yearly review.
Current talent needs
ACE is looking to hire a research associate. You can find a detailed job description here. In addition, ACE is considering to hire another person for operations and a person for development. These are still very hypothetical and depend on the future funding situation among other things. Read this recent post to learn more about ACE’s room for more funding and how they would use additional donations.
Generally, ACE is looking for people who think critically about effective animal advocacy, and have relevant experience. Since the work is remote, it is also important that you can demonstrate your ability to work independently. Often, people demonstrate these abilities through internships.
How can you get involved on a lower commitment basis?
The best way to get involved is through a remote internship. This year, ACE will hire 10-12 interns working at least 20 hours per week for 3 months. Internships are currently unpaid though this might change if funding becomes available. 4 out of 5 hires last year had previously interned at ACE so this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your fit.
Although applications are per season (summer applications are currently open), start dates are flexible. Positions in summer are generally more competitive due to the holidays and least competitive in fall.
ACE doesn’t receive a large number of applicants but the quality of the applications makes these internships fairly competitive. Most are EAs. Since the work is remote, it helps a lot if you’ve independently completed a project, showing your reliability. It will also count in your favor if you can show in the interview that you’re thinking critically about effective animal advocacy.
Roughly two-thirds of the projects interns worked on last year were research-focused, other areas are operations, development and communications. Interns will usually work on 1-3 major projects. Examples from last year include conducting a case study of a social movement, updating the allocation of donations chart and improving the calculators for the effectiveness of leafletting and online ads.
If you want to work in animal advocacy, an internship at ACE is a great way to get an understanding of the animal advocacy movement from a bird’s eye view. You’ll also learn more about what nonprofits are like as well as getting training and career advancement beside learning whatever skills are necessary for the project you work on. In general, ACE will match the project to your strengths and skills.
Volunteers are needed for some very specific tasks: Conversation transcriptions, conversation summaries, interview transcriptions, and developing some Google scripts. More detail can be found here, including an application form.
ACE is also open to guest blog posts. You can suggest a topic to Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, ACE has greatly benefitted from people sharing their work and the topic of effective altruism for animals on social media, via blog posts and articles and in conversation with relevant audiences. You are very much encouraged to continue doing so.
How should one decide between direct work and earning to give for ACE?
If you have the potential to become a strong figure inside the animal advocacy movement, you’re likely to do more good by working directly for ACE (or at other highly effective organizations). High-quality work is needed to convince more donors to fund ACE. If your personal fit for earning to give is higher then that may be the better option, but also consider that while intelligence is good for earning money, it is also needed for research activities.
What's the application process like?
After submitting your CV, cover letter and application, you may get invited for a first interview with Jon. For full-time positions you will then get a relevant task to complete before some deadline. This is followed by a second interview with tougher work-related questions and assessment tests of your competency.
Why work at ACE?
If your concern is to alleviate the most suffering with your time and money there’s a strong case to be made that working on effective altruism for animals is the most effective thing to do.
Within the animal advocacy space, ACE is a completely unique organization. If you’re a good fit for them, there’s probably no way to have more impact in that space. Not only have they recorded a fundraising ratio of $5 moved to effective charities for every $1 spent, a big part of their impact is by enabling animal advocacy organizations to do better work. After being around for just 3 years, ACE is starting to become a well-recognized and credible force in the animal advocacy movement, affecting the movement as a whole. Increasingly, their help and recommendations are being highlighted by large organizations such as HSUS and Mercy for Animals.
Considerations regarding career capital and exploration value depend on the position. Due to ACE’s role and potential in the animal advocacy movement it should be a great starting point for a career in this area. One possible consideration against working at ACE would be if you are not able to work well from home.
Anything else that would be useful to know?
More feedback on ACE’s work would be highly appreciated and useful. If there is any content (including old content) on the site that needs improvement or could be explained more clearly please write a comment or use the contact form. ACE also benefits enormously from people sharing their work. Shares on social media, blog posts and editorials for relevant audiences all help. There’s also tons of resources for local EA chapters to use - email email@example.com to get some material.