Animal Advocacy Careers (AAC) is an organisation that seeks to address the career and talent bottlenecks in the animal advocacy movement, especially the farmed animal movement. We were founded in late 2019, with support from Charity Entrepreneurship.
Review of our work in 2020
In 2020, our primary goal was to learn about which services would best address the career and talent bottlenecks in the animal advocacy movement. We primarily sought to achieve our goal by testing multiple services on a small scale.
We provided the following services:
- An online course (and workshop), intended primarily for individuals new to or unfamiliar with effective animal advocacy but interested in helping animals through their careers.
- One-to-one careers advice plus online skills profiles and other careers support, intended for those slightly more familiar with animal advocacy and the career strategy ideas discussed in the effective altruism community but looking for support or information to address career planning uncertainties.
- Management and leadership training for managers at animal advocacy nonprofits; all participants were encouraged and supported to undertake an online course of their choosing on the topic and around half were also provided with all-expenses-paid one-to-one coaching from experienced coaches.
Running these services has helped us to build up our intuition about which services have the potential to be most effective and how to run them most cost-effectively.
Numbers of participants
The table below lists predictions that we made in April 2020 about expected numbers of participants for each of our services by the end of the year, as well as the actual results observed.
* 50% of applicants were randomly assigned to a no-intervention “control” group to help us assess our impact. We will not repeat this if we offer this service again.
Given the effort inputted, the numbers of participants are therefore slightly disappointing for each of these services except for the online course and workshop.
The one-to-one career advising and online course and workshop services are being evaluated by randomised controlled trials; we will have final results by late Summer 2021. We have also conducted a variety of other less formal analyses and received various types of participant feedback. These are detailed in Appendix A. Overall, we are quite pleased with the feedback we have had on the online course and workshop and on the one-to-one advising calls. The feedback on the management and leadership training is mixed and difficult to interpret. We have struggled to collect much feedback on our skills profiles.
There are currently two of us on the team (1.6 full-time equivalents). In 2020, we also had one contractor work with us for ~6 months, an operations intern provide support with charity registration, and a volunteer research assistant for one project.
- Published 9 research blog posts and 3 resource blog posts.
- Secured grants from Open Philanthropy ($432,000 over two years), Effective Altruism funds ($50,000), and Animal Charity Evaluators ($10,000). We also received ongoing support from Charity Entrepreneurship’s original $50,000 grant to us.
- Gave talks at the Conference on Animal Rights in Europe (x 2), International Animal Rights Conference, Effective Altruism Global x, Effective Altruism Global x Asia Pacific, and Animal Advocacy Conference Asia.
- Lauren Mee (CEO) was a mentor at EAGx for career guidance and is a mentor at WANBAM.
- Organised 5 talks with student societies and 3 Q&A events with experienced animal advocates, primarily to promote our main services.
- With a relatively small time input (several hours to set up, ~2 additional hours every fortnight), we launched a small job board in mid October, which has become one of the most frequently visited pages on our site (1,182 views by the end of 2020).
- Incorporation in California and application pending for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the US.
In 2021, our primary goal will continue to be to learn about which services will be most cost-effective for us to run in future years in order to help animals. We will try out at least one service type that we have not yet tested on a small scale and offer an improved version of at least one service that was trialled in 2020.
Bottlenecks to be addressed
In order to “address the career and talent bottlenecks in the animal advocacy movement,” we must first understand what those bottlenecks are. We see this research as essential for ourselves and also hopefully useful to others in the movement. Our primary source of evidence for this are our surveys with the effective animal advocacy community.
Our survey from 2019 identified several possible talent bottlenecks: management and leadership, fundraising, government, and legal. Although we used different question wording in our surveys in late 2020, a very similar set of skill types were rated as the most difficult to hire high-quality candidates for; the top three categories were “Leadership and senior managers,” “Fundraising or development,” and “Government, policy, lobbying, or legal.”
In 2021, we aim to focus primarily on addressing the perceived bottleneck of high-quality leadership and senior management. This was highlighted as a key bottleneck in our own surveys and surveys conducted by other organisations.
See Appendix B for detail on the considerations for and against a focus on various bottlenecks.
There are many different possible services that AAC could offer. We tend to group these options into three categories:
- Attracting talent and support from outside the animal advocacy community,
- Support and coordination for the animal advocacy community and job-seekers,
- Support for current staff at animal advocacy organisations.
We have used several different decision-making tools in order to consider which services to work on in 2021:
- Spreadsheets with subjective scores on various criteria (“weighted factor models”), comparing at various levels of specificity (by intervention category, by types of service, and by specific services addressing specific bottlenecks).
- Evidence from our surveys about what key stakeholders in the effective animal advocacy community think would be best (“expert view”),
- Some (very rough) cost-effectiveness analyses.
Based on this, we have chosen to work on two main services from early 2021:
- Offering organisations training for all staff with management responsibilities, following consultation with leaders and senior managers at those organisations.
- Offering organisations support with recruitment, for their most difficult to hire roles, focused on individuals with relevant expertise but low engagement with effective animal advocacy to date.
As time allows and as we learn more (e.g. following the results from the randomised controlled trials of the services from 2020), we may add or pivot towards any of the following services:
- Building a high-quality applicant pool and talent pipeline for leadership and senior management roles, by contacting and supporting individuals with relevant expertise but low engagement with effective animal advocacy to date.
- Offering training for fundraising staff.
- One-to-one careers advising.
- An improved or more widely marketed introductory online course.
See Appendix C for detail on the considerations for and against a focus on each of these services. We do not intend to charge for any of our services in 2021.
- Identify potential external recruiters to outsource part or all of the recruiting process to. Offer the recruiting service to a limited number of partners.
- Identify management and leadership training service providers.
- Look into research and best practice guidance from academia, the for-profit sector, and other nonprofits that is relevant to the services we plan to offer.
- Develop monitoring and evaluation processes for each service.
- Identify a small number effective animal advocacy nonprofits to participate in the management and leadership training service this year, then interview them to build an understanding of their specific needs.
April to August:
- Begin to implement management and leadership training based on assessment of specific needs.
- Make improvements to the recruiting service, perhaps hiring a recruiting specialist if initial results suggest that this is the most promising path.
- Analysis of the results of the randomised controlled trials of the services from 2020.
September to December:
- Continued iteration and improvement of the services.
- Decide whether to add or pivot towards any of the alternative service options listed above, depending on: the experience of our work in January to August; our time availability; the results from the randomised controlled trials of our 2020 services.
- Planning for 2022, if possible (follow-up information from participants is likely to still be pending at this point).
How to contribute
- Subscribe to our newsletter.
- Contact us if you have expertise relevant to our plans (especially in headhunting, recruiting, or staff training) or could otherwise advise and support us.
- We are considering creating an advisory board, though informal, ad hoc advice is also welcome. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this.
- Make a donation.
A few slightly random questions: Do you design your programmes with a specific age range of participants in mind and/or do you filter out potential participants based on age? What is average age range of participants of your services?
Thanks for writing this up, it's super interesting and helpful to see! I've got a few questions:
Thanks for your questions and engagement with our post.
<<Besides the predictions you had for various amounts of people attending the online course, reading the skills profiles, etc., did you have any more high-level targets such as "we want to support X number of people in choosing a better career for animals"?>>
Yes, ultimately we will want to measure some variant of impact adjusted career trajectory changes for individuals. We haven't tried to really measure this for the skills profiles as these were largely for helping us to get a better knowledge internally on different types of roles in the movement. The online course and the 1-2-1 career advising will be assessed at least in part by our randomised control trials which will look to measure both career changes and also some behavioural changes of individuals who participated in the intervention vs. those who didn't.
<<Looking at Appendix A, I saw you were disappointed with the amount of people who said they were likely to change their likely career trajectory, which is definitely understandable. Have you got plans to research into and/or improve this figure or do you not consider it a pressing issue at this stage?>>
Correct, although this is very immediate responses and its likely there could be more positive results in a few months or even years. At this stage digging deeper isnt the priority right now until we become more optimistic about continuing this service, but this might change when we receive the results from our RCT's on both the 1-2-1 advising and online course.
<< Would you be willing to share your cost-effectiveness calculations you reference in Appendix C? I'm considering starting a start-up later this year and would love to see how other people have modelled it, especially for an intervention that is seemingly quite hard to model rigorously.>>
Absolutely, although we must caveat that these are very rough CEA's and you might get some better advice on this from Karolina from Charity Entrepreneruship. If you email Jamie@animaladvocacycareers.org, he'll be happy to share this with you. Also if you want to chat more broadly about your start-up ideas and have a chat about this feel free to reach out to me.