TL;DR: Charity Entrepreneurship would like your help in our research process. We are running a prediction market on the top 10 ideas across two cause areas. A total of $2000 in prizes is available for prediction accuracy and comment quality. Check it out at: https://manifold.markets/group/ce-2023-top-ideas
The CE prediction market
For our upcoming (winter 2024) Incubation Program, we are researching two cause areas. Within global development we are looking into mass media interventions –social and behavior change communication campaigns delivered through mass media (e.g., radio advertising, TV shows, text messages, etc.) aiming to improve human well-being. Within animal welfare we are looking into preventive (or long-run) interventions for farmed animals – the new charities will not just positively affect farmed animals in the short term, but will have a long-run effect on preventing animal suffering in farms 35 years from now.
We have narrowed down to the most promising top 10 ideas for each of these cause areas. The Charity Entrepreneurship research team will be doing ~80-hour research projects on as many of these ideas as we can between now and July, carefully examining the evidence and crucial considerations that could either make or break the idea. At the end of this we will aim to recommend two-three ideas for each cause area.
This is where you come in. We want to get your views and predictions on our top ideas within each cause area. We have put our top idea list onto the Manifold Markets prediction market platform, and you are invited to join a collective exercise to assess these ideas and input into our decision making.
You can do this by reading the list of top ideas (below) for one or both of the cause areas, and then going to the Manifold Market platform and:
- Make a prediction about how likely you think it is that a specific idea will be recommended by us at the end of our research.
- Leave comments on each idea with your thoughts or views on why it might or might not be recommended, or why it might or might not be a good idea.
As well as having the great benefit of helping our research, we have $2000 in prizes to give away (generously donated by Manifold Markets).
- $1,000 for comment prizes. We will give $100 to each person who gives one of the top 10 arguments or pieces of information that changes our minds the most regarding our selection decisions.
- $1,000 for forecasting prizes. We will grant prizes to the individuals who do the best at predicting which of the ideas we end up selecting.
More details on these prizes are available on the page at Manifold.
The market is open until June 5, 2023 for predictions and comments. This gives the CE research team time to read and integrate comments and insights into our research before our early July deadline.
To participate, read the list below and go to: https://manifold.markets/group/ce-2023-top-ideas to make predictions and leave comments.
Summary of ideas under consideration
By ‘mass media’ interventions we refer to social and behavior change communication campaigns delivered through mass media, aiming to improve human well-being.
1. Using mobile technologies (mHealth) to encourage women to attend antenatal clinics and/or give birth at a healthcare facility
Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, only about 55% of women make the recommended four+ antenatal care visits, and only 60% give birth at a healthcare facility. This organization would encourage greater healthcare utilization and achieve lower maternal and neonatal mortality by scaling up evidence-based mHealth interventions, such as one-way text messages or two-way SMS/WhatsApp communications. These messages would aim to address common concerns about professional healthcare, as well as reminding women not to miss their appointments.
2. Using mass media to tackle violence against women
Violence against women – especially intimate partner violence (IPV) – is highly prevalent across the world. Recent studies have shown promising results in using radio or TV edutainment shows that aim to shift viewers’ attitudes, perceived norms, and behaviors related to IPV. This organization would focus on producing and streaming such shows in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).
3. Encouraging internal (rural-urban) migration
Workers in cities across LMICs have much higher incomes than people living in rural areas. In many cities, people are also healthier, report higher life satisfaction, and their children have better educational opportunities. Despite this, rates of internal migration are relatively low in many countries. This organization would produce edutainment shows that realistically portray the pros and cons of moving to cities, with the aim of overcoming people’s informational and motivational barriers to migration.
4. Discouraging female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is still highly prevalent in LMICs, especially in Saharan and northern sub-Saharan Africa. It involves partially or fully cutting a girl's external genitalia, which can cause (among other issues) serious bleeding, infection, infertility, and even death. This organization would produce edutainment shows aimed to stimulate reflection and debate around this topic, with the aim of changing people’s attitudes, perceived norms, and ultimately their decision on whether or not to practise FGM.
5. Informing audiences about their eligibility for welfare programs
It appears that in many LMICs, only a minority of the poorest households are actually receiving social assistance (such as social safety nets or widow pensions), even in countries that have relevant programs that these households could be accessing. Lack of awareness and limited knowledge about the availability of these programs and how to overcome hurdles to access them, have been identified as some of the key barriers. The idea is to provide information about the existence of relevant welfare programs, as well as how to access them.
6. An organization focused on early childhood stimulation
By the age of four, it is estimated that over 40% of children in sub-Saharan Africa fail to meet the cognitive or socio-emotional milestones expected for their age. Many are likely to do poorly in school, and subsequently have low incomes as adults. Intervening in the first three years of life is a highly effective way to help children develop their cognitive skills. This organization would focus either on encouraging and supporting parents to spend more time doing stimulating activities with their children, or produce stimulating (audio or audiovisual) content that children could engage with.
7. Encouraging higher vaccination rates through mobile interventions
Vaccinations are among the most cost-effective ways to prevent mortality and morbidity from transmissible diseases. Yet, many children don’t receive all the vaccines they should, which results in over a million children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases every year. This organization would focus on scaling evidence-based strategies for increasing childhood vaccination rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
8. Informing voters about political candidates’ criminal pasts
Many LMICs suffer from having a high proportion of politicians with corrupt and/or criminal histories. These candidates often get elected because voters may not be fully informed, or because they don’t put enough weight on criminality when casting their vote. However, evidence suggests that electing such candidates leads to detrimental impacts down the line, including more corruption, less investment, and lower GDP growth. This organization would aim to reduce the vote shares for criminal politicians by sending text messages to voters in priority districts, informing them about which politicians are “criminal” vs “clean” (based on public records).
9. Promoting brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste
Oral health has been largely neglected by global health interventions in recent decades, yet there is growing evidence linking poor oral health with high levels of pain and suffering, as well as poor health outcomes such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Yet there is a simple and highly effective way of preventing oral diseases: daily tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste. This organization would use mass-media communications to encourage the audience to consistently adopt behaviors that promote oral health, including more frequent tooth brushing, and using toothpaste with sufficient fluoride content.
10. Preventing deaths and disability from snakebites
Snakebites are estimated to cause over 100,000 deaths every year, and many more cases of disability, such as paralysis or amputations. While effective antivenoms are available in many hospitals in LMICs, medical care is often sought too late for them to be effective. This organization would use mass media to help people in rural areas understand the risk of snakebites and how to prevent them, as well as the importance of seeking professional help if they do get bitten by a snake.
Preventive Animal Welfare
This year our focus is on interventions and policies that prevent future harms done to animals, as opposed to solving current problems. We will be looking for interventions that, as well as having some short run evidence of impact, will prevent future problems, i.e., have the biggest impact on farmed animals in the future, say 35 years from now.
1. Limiting the intensification of factory farms in LMICs
This charity idea focuses on curbing the expansion of factory farming and intensification in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Potential strategies include advocating for more robust animal welfare laws, protecting small-scale farmers, targeting corporate campaigns at multinational companies planning to intensify farming, and raising awareness about the consequences of farm intensification. The charity could build its case on various grounds, such as environmental concerns, animal rights, and human health implications. The exact approach is to be determined through further research.
2. Animal advocacy organization at the EU-wide level
This charity idea aims to promote stricter animal welfare policies throughout the European Union. With indications that the EU is considering significant updates to its animal welfare legislation, the charity could work to counteract the influence of the meat lobby, and ensure that proposed laws remain strong. The charity may advocate for specific high-priority policy changes, such as banning all mutilations, or implementing stricter stocking density regulations. The precise policy ask is to be determined. Alternatively, the charity could conduct investigations to hold policymakers accountable for their previous commitments, ensuring promises made are followed through.
3. Ballot initiatives/policy advocacy to end factory farming or de-escalate stocking densities by 2050
This charity idea focuses on utilizing direct democracy channels, such as ballot initiatives and referendums. The aim would be to phase out factory farming and the import of factory-farmed products in regions where such channels exist, drawing inspiration from the Swiss Factory Farm ballot initiative. In areas without direct democracy options, the organization will advocate for government policies to scale down factory farms and reduce stocking densities. The charity is likely to operate in high-income countries with a strong emphasis on animal welfare, aiming for a complete phase out of factory farms by 2050.
4. Preventing the takeoff of insect farming
The primary objective of this charity is to thwart the rapid rise of insect farming, which is anticipated to become a major source of animal feed in agriculture. To achieve this, the charity may advocate for policies or launch corporate campaigns targeting animal farmers, discouraging them from using insects as feed. Additionally, the organization could run negative campaigns against insect usage, raising awareness about the potential consequences and promoting alternative solutions.
5. Banning octopus (or general cephalopod) farming
This policy advocacy charity aims to introduce a ban on farming octopuses and/or other cephalopods. Although not targeting the consumption of these creatures, the charity addresses the heightened suffering experienced by farmed octopuses compared to their wild counterparts. By targeting the conditions in which they are kept, and their high consumption of other animals as feed, the charity would seek to mitigate the overall suffering caused by the system of farming these complex creatures.
6. Vegan outreach or Veganuary campaigns in LMICs
This charity idea focuses on promoting veganism and Veganuary campaigns in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). By raising awareness of the benefits of a plant-based diet, the charity would seek to encourage more people to adopt veganism. This would reduce the demand for animal products and mitigate the associated environmental, health, and animal welfare issues. Through tailored outreach and localized Veganuary initiatives, the charity’s aim would be to create a lasting impact on dietary habits and drive positive change in LMICs.
7. Corporate campaigns to stop the use and sale of silk
This charity idea targets the silk industry by launching corporate campaigns aimed at stopping the sale and use of silk in clothing and bedding. Focusing on the ethical concerns surrounding silk production, which involves the boiling of silkworms, the charity would advocate for more humane alternatives. By engaging with companies and consumers, the organization would seek to raise awareness about the ethical implications of silk production. Its goal would be to drive the adoption of cruelty-free, sustainable alternatives within the fashion and home goods industries.
8. Fish welfare policy advocacy
The goal of this charity idea is to establish a fish welfare policy advocacy organization dedicated to improving the living conditions and treatment of (mostly farmed) fish. A lot of countries still lack, or have very basic, animal protection laws for fish. By promoting evidence-based policies and regulations, the charity would address the often-overlooked suffering experienced by fish, which massive numbers are subjected to in intensive farming systems.
9. Innovation prizes to spur breakthroughs in bottleneck technologies for farmed animal welfare
This charity idea revolves around offering innovation prizes to encourage breakthroughs in bottleneck technologies aimed at improving farmed animal welfare. The charity would seek to address critical gaps in the industry and promote more compassionate farming practices. It would achieve this by incentivizing the development of high-welfare farming technologies, such as egg-sexing, or more humane slaughter equipment.
10. Meta-fundraising organization for animals
This charity idea focuses on creating a meta-fundraising organization that conducts targeted outreach to high-net-worth individuals, encouraging them to support effective animal charities. By leveraging the financial resources of affluent donors, the charity would seek to amplify the impact of animal welfare organizations that demonstrate evidence-based effectiveness and high potential for positive change. Through personalized engagement and education, the meta-fundraising organization would aim to foster long-term partnerships between philanthropists and animal charities, maximizing the resources available to tackle pressing animal welfare issues.
About our research process
Our goal is to identify the most high-impact intervention opportunities for new charities. When we look at ideas, we consider cost-effectiveness, potential scale, quality of evidence, tractability and limiting factors. We begin by collecting hundreds of the most promising ideas worldwide per cause area, then through multiple rounds of research we delve deeper into the ideas. We gradually whittle down the list until we are left with the top two-three ideas to be recommended.
In the final research stage we list the top 10 ideas and (working through from the most to least promising) we do an in-depth research report on as many of these ideas as we can. These reports tend to take about 80 hours of research time, although this can vary from 40 hours to 120, depending on the topic. These final reports include cost-effectiveness analyses, expert interviews, geographical assessments, reviews of the evidence from literature, assessments of past case studies, other forms of evidence, crucial considerations analyses and limiting factors analyses.
At the end of this process, the research team and senior management compare all the reports and decide on which two-three ideas to recommend to the entrepreneurs who enter the incubation program- the ideas with extremely high expected impact
You can find full details of our research process on our website here. You can also find examples of our past research here. You can get a sense of how we have made decisions in the past by looking at these decision-making spreadsheets on animal welfare policy and large-scale global health research rounds.
This year we are running an experiment to see if 1. prediction markets can accurately predict which ideas we recommend, and 2. if forecasters can provide insights to the ideas that we would’ve otherwise missed.
About Charity Entrepreneurship
Our mission is to enable more effective charities to exist in the world. We strive to achieve this goal through our extensive research process and Incubation Program. Each year, Charity Entrepreneurship dedicates hundreds of research hours to identifying the most effective charity ideas. Then we recruit aspiring entrepreneurs and, through our two-month Incubation Program, provide them with the training and funding to turn these ideas into high-impact organizations. Our research has identified highly effective charity ideas in five cause areas so far: Animal Welfare, Health and Development Policy, Mental Health and Happiness, Family Planning, and Capacity Building (EA Meta). In four years, we’ve helped launch 23 new charities, reaching 5 million animals and over 8 million people (as of Dec. 2022).
Huge thanks to Austin and the Manifold Markets team for making this collaboration possible. It has been a pleasure to work with them and their support has been invaluable.