Hello EA Forum! As some of you may already be aware, Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) has recently expanded our team, most notably in Research. As such, we'd like to introduce ourselves as ACE's new Director of Research and Evaluations Program Manager and share how we intend to engage the EA community via this forum moving forward. We both joined ACE this summer, right as the annual charity evaluation season kicked off. Since we were hired, two new researchers, Alina Salmen, Ph.D. and Max Taylor, have joined, as well as our new Executive Director, Stien van der Ploeg.
Elisabeth Ormandy - Director of Research
I have an academic background in Neuroscience (B.Sc.), Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare (M.Sc.), and Animal Welfare and Ethics (Ph.D.). I completed a research fellowship in animal policy development for the Canadian Council on Animal Care and held a post-doctoral fellowship position at the University of British Columbia (UBC). I also taught various undergraduate courses at UBC including: Animals and Society, Animals and Global Issues, Scholarly Writing and Argumentation, and Animals, Politics and Ethics. In 2015, I opted to leave academia to co-found the Canadian Society for Humane Science—I served as their Executive Director until I joined ACE. In that role, I gained experience in nonprofit management, impact assessment, and strategic planning, and learned the importance of strengthening the animal advocacy movement. Alongside my paid work in animal advocacy, I currently serve in a number of volunteer roles, most notably as a Board member for the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.
Vince Mak - Evaluations Program Manager
I have a generalist background—I graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and spent the beginning of my career in financial services. I discovered effective altruism in 2019, developed an interest in animal advocacy after reading Animal Liberation in 2020, and began doing EA-style charity evaluations across cause areas as a volunteer with SoGive in 2021. Outside of my job at ACE, I currently assist in various capacities with EA research, grantmaking, and movement building.
ACE's Next Steps on the EA Forum
In the past few years, ACE's activity on the EA Forum has been to provide updates on our work and share our thinking. As an EA organization dedicated to transparency and intellectual rigor, we would like to take it a step further and interact more closely with the community that shares these values. As we tinker with our evaluation methodology in the months and years ahead, we plan to invite your feedback during the intermediate stages; we do not want to just inform you, we want to be informed by you. In addition to opportunities to critique our thinking, you can also expect from ACE transparency about our processes, responsiveness to fair and genuine criticism, and a commitment to evolve our thinking in response to new evidence.
Adjustments to our evaluations process so far
This year, our research team altered the way we approach our evaluations, partially thanks to input from people on this forum in the past. For instance, we have now implemented quantitative scoring frameworks for our Programs and Cost Effectiveness evaluation criteria—a marked departure from how we assessed these criteria last year.
We appreciate the EA community's willingness to provide constructive criticism so that we can continually refine our methods. More recently, some of you have already volunteered your time and expertise by sharing proposals for how ACE can improve. In particular, we thank Nuno Sempere for a thoughtful (private) proposal on how we can make more accurate impact and cost-effectiveness assessments and quantify uncertainty as part of those calculations—we greatly value the time and energy you put into supporting us. Thanks also to eaanonymous1234 for your recent evaluation of ACE as part of the EA Criticism and Red Teaming contest. Once we have more capacity for reflection after the giving season, we will follow up with both of you to learn more and continue the constructive dialogue.
This year's charity recommendations
We will announce our updated list of recommended charities next week on Tuesday, November 22. In the pursuit of transparency and to make it easier for others to provide input on our methods, we now share spreadsheets that show how we prioritized interventions, calculated cost-effectiveness, and estimated room for more funding for each charity in this year's reviews. In the weeks following our recommendations announcement, we will also publish blog posts on the ACE website for each of our four evaluation criteria, which will detail what we changed this year along with the perceived limitations we aim to overcome in the future.
As researchers at an organization that specializes in effective animal advocacy, we feel a great sense of responsibility to do our best to identify the most effective ways to help animals and spread the word about the organizations that do this important work. It's because of these two linked concerns that we value the EA Forum; this is both a place where we can consult you about our methods as well as a space filled with people who want to stay updated on the most effective ways to improve or save animal lives.
We are excited about ACE's future as we enter a new phase of leadership. We hope you share this feeling too—we think more dialogue between ACE and the rest of the EA community will go a long way toward helping the trillions of farmed and wild animals who suffer daily.
Elisabeth & Vince