Just as~2 years ago, the EA Animal Welfare Fund has significant room for more funding. This could be a pretty important point that informs end of year giving for a number of donors who are looking to make donations within the animal sector.
Briefly, here’s why the Animal Welfare Fund has some pretty significant room for more funding at this point:
- Right now, there’s currently ~$1M in the Animal Welfare Fund.
- We also now have 50 grants, summing to ~$4.5M in grants under evaluation.
- Between mid-last year and mid-this year, the EA AWF received ~350 applications over the past year of which ~150 were desk rejects and ~200 were graded by fund managers. Of these ~200, ~60 received funding, and ~30 received the grant amount they applied for or more.
- Assuming that the general shape of the pipeline remains similar, that could imply we may now have more grants than we can fund. Potentially even if we were to have an influx of several hundred thousand dollars.
- In general, the AWF is navigating a difficult period funding-wise: last year, we had ~$7M to allocate, whereas our projection for this year — extrapolating from donations received so far — is only ~$5M.
- We also have some plans for significant growth next year through some internal expansion plans in the works (e.g., possibly adding further fund managers, hopefully at least one who is full-time, and doing more active grantmaking).
- Also, a lot of our grantees have grown, so they’ll have more room for funding. As a lot of the groups we give to are relatively small, they can grow at such a rate that they’d often be looking to absorb twice as much funding in the next year. If we zoom in on just say Fórum Nacional de Proteção e Defesa Animal–a promising Brazilian group. In 2021 we granted $30k to them and this year $80k. Which comfortably corresponds to a greater than 100% growth in grant amount over a two-year period. Generally, it seems that if we have more money in the fund, it encourages some good organizations to request more funding for some quality projects.
- Relatedly, some of the areas we grant in just tend to be pretty high growth and grow at comfortably >20% year on year. For instance, years ago there was basically very little that could be granted to invertebrate welfare, but this year we made several hundred thousand dollars in grants within that area.
- So next year, we think that we could fairly comfortably and productively absorb and grant out in the realm of $6M-$10M (that’s a ~20%-100% increase on this year) without any significant decreases to the quality of our grants.
- Note too, that in previous years we have been able to do such jumps in grantmaking volume. In 2020 we granted out ~$2M in total, in 2021 more than doubled that to ~$4.5M, and in 2022 went up to $7M, before now likely decreasing to ~$5M this year. We think we’re again on track to handle 2020-2022 levels of either absolute growth or percentage growth in grants for next year, which will put us in that $6M-$10M range.
- So one way to look at this is that we now have ~$1M in the fund but next year we could do something like at least ~$7.5M in grants. So in that sense, we have several million dollars in room for more funding.
- It could be worth thinking about how much we’ll likely raise for grants for next year too though. This year, we typically raised ~$100k per month. Historically, we have seen about a ~2x-8x increase on that monthly total for the month of December and January (some end-of-year donations come in on the books in January).
- Another way to look at this then, is based on the current trends and growth in them year to year, we would now be looking at raising something like ~$1.7M (~$100k per month + say ~4x that total for Dec and ~3x for Jan) between now and the end of next year (presuming trends hold about the same as other years, and we don't see too much of a reason to think they won't at this point). Again, as we have ~$1M now in the fund, that brings the total to ~$2.7M. But we think we could productively absorb at least several million dollars on top of that relatively comfortably.
- Also in terms of how much we will raise, we will flag there’s some significant variance in that year to year. Because some notable supporters tend to give amounts that fluctuate quite a bit year to year, because their giving potential tends to be tied to some relatively volatile Cryptocurrencies. Correspondingly, we had something of an influx in $’s at the end of 2017/ start of 2018, when the crypto market boomed, then somewhat of a quieter year on that front in 2019 and 2020, but then again some large donations in 2021 and 2022. It’s pretty unclear to me what to expect from Crypto next year.
So putting those above bullets together, our sense is that the Animal Welfare Fund has significant room for more funding. At least a couple hundred thousand dollars in room for more funding, quite credibly a couple of million dollars in room for more funding, and potentially several million dollars in room for more funding for grants next year.
What Does a Marginal Grant at AWF Look Like?
We ranked grantee applications from the past 12 months, and then modified and blended grants to form representative fictitious grants based on brief descriptions. (The causes, activities, and regions have been blended but the costs are representative of the actual costs for that type of activity). This should give one an idea of the types of applications that have been funded in the past (and corresponding grant costs in brackets).
- Supporting a premiere EAA organization implementing cage-free transitions in Latin America as we approach cage-free deadlines ($150k).
- Supporting an organization with a track record of coordinating animal advocacy organizations in Asia to hire and train local staff in local farmed animal advocacy organizations in Asia ($100K).
- 1-year salary and set-up costs for someone to found a recruitment agency to hire top talent into cage-free work ($85K).
- Supporting an already-established animal advocacy student group in hosting a symposium to discuss the role students and academia can play in the transition to more humane farming methods ($7k).
- Supporting a pragmatic organization in Asia, with previous support from other funders, to lobby a government for alt protein support ($10K).
- Funding a multi-year study by an established researcher in a prestigious university to develop a tool to audit welfare for farmed invertebrates with reasonable grounds for sentience ($80k).
- Supporting an organization with a smaller track record that is plugged into the Open Wing Alliance and wants to scale up its cage-free campaign in Africa ($20k).
- Fund a Corporate Engagement Manager in an organization in Asia for a 2-year period to engage businesses in the food sector to add more plant-based protein options to their menus ($90k).
- Supporting a relatively new organization in lobbying government and training journalists to cover alternative protein in Latin America ($30k).
- A multi-day strategy workshop in Africa to strengthen advocate connections, co-create initiatives and form working organizations ($20k).
- Supporting an organization in new cage-free campaigns in Asia and a second research study on the state of cage-free hens in a large Asian country and a conference to share results of their study ($100k).
- Supporting a relatively new organization with a decent track record to support farmed animal welfare litigation efforts in a large European country ($50k).
- Providing a 6-month salary for a promising Ph.D. student working with a renowned supervisor in a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions to increase voter participation in animal welfare ballot initiatives ($26K).