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This is the August 2020 payout report for the Animal Welfare Fund, one of the Effective Altruism Funds. The grants were made from donations made between 4 February and 15 June 2020. Posted on behalf of the Animal Welfare Fund management team.

July 2020: Animal Welfare Fund Grants

Fund: Animal Welfare Fund
Payout date: August 7, 2020
Payout amount: $680,000.00
Grant author(s): Karolina Sarek, Alexandria Beck, Kieran Greig, Lewis Bollard

Grant recipients:

Grant rationale:

The Animal Welfare Fund made the following grant recommendations in the July 2020 round:

  1. Sinergia Animal: $80K
  2. Rethink Priorities: $80K
  3. Wild Animal Initiative (WAI): $80K
  4. Equalia: $70K
  5. Global Food Partners: $50K
  6. Strategies for Ethical and Environmental Development: $50K
  7. Encompass: $45K
  8. Fundación Vegetarianos Hoy: $35k
  9. Fish Welfare Initiative: $30k
  10. Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST): $30K
  11. Essere Animali: $25K
  12. Planet For All Hong Kong: $25k
  13. Humánny pokrok: $25k
  14. Dzīvnieku brīvība: $20k
  15. VegeProject Japan: $15k
  16. Asociación para el Rescate y Bienestar de los Animales (ARBA): $10k
  17. Crustacean Compassion: $10k

Sinergia Animal: $80K

Hiring for Corporate Relations positions and conducting research.

Sinergia Animal specializes in corporate engagement and cage-free campaigns in Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina, Chile, and Columbia. They will soon expand their work to include Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. This grant will allow the growing organization to hire additional corporate relations staff and free up time for existing staff to focus on public awareness-raising efforts in areas such as Asia, where additional support is needed. Given Sinergia's impressive track record of securing groundbreaking commitments in neglected areas and collaborating with other groups to make progress, we see significant value in supporting their expansion.

Rethink Priorities: $80k

General support for research in wild animal and insect welfare.

Rethink Priorities focuses on conducting empirical research on neglected causes. Following up on our previous grants to Rethink Priorities, we are continuing to provide funding for their animal welfare-focused research. With this additional funding, they plan to increase the quality and quantity of their research on wild animal welfare and conduct a research project to identify concrete insect welfare charity ideas. Rethink Priorities have a track record in conducting high-quality research in the neglected areas of invertebrate welfare and wild animal welfare, and we believe that this grant will enable them to increase their output. They directly track the impact they are having, and we are excited to see an analysis of the expected impact that this work will have on organizations and donations moved.

Wild Animal Initiative: $80K

General support for research and advocacy for wild animal welfare.

Wild Animal Initiative's mission is to understand and improve the lives of wild animals. Following up on our previous grants to WAI, we are continuing to provide funding for their work. This grant will contribute to their goal of establishing a thriving field of wild animal welfare research. As an outcome, they hope to i) build academic support for work on wild animal welfare, so it is possible for a wild animal welfare advocate to conduct research on various types of interventions ii) contribute to the development of an NSF fund to support this type of research iii) contribute to the existence of a journal and/or society of wild animal welfare, iv) contribute to the existence of dedicated conferences that attract > 1000 attendees, and v) contribute to the presence of departments or inter-departmental programs (such as IGEPs) dedicated to wild animal welfare research. We are happy to support work on this important yet largely neglected area.

Equalia: $70K

Investigations and corporate campaigning against battery cages in Spain.

Equalia is a new investigations and campaigning group in Spain. In March, we made a $30K grant to Equalia, noting their impressive track record in investigations, but also our concern that they wanted to prematurely campaign on broiler welfare before cage-free campaigns are closed out in Spain. We're happy they've adjusted their plans to focus primarily on cage-free campaigns. This grant will support hiring an experienced investigator to conduct undercover investigations at Spanish caged hen farms, and retaining their head of press outreach, who will leverage these investigations to generate more pressure on Spanish companies to eliminate cages.

Global Food Partners: $50K

Promoting the transition away from battery cages across Asia.

Global Food Partners is a new group that works cooperatively with multinational food companies and Asian egg producers to transition their Asian supply chains to cage-free. This is important work: the majority of the world's caged layer hens are in Asia, where domestic cage-free campaigns are only just getting started. This grant will primarily support the establishment of cage-free training centres in Indonesia and China to accelerate the transition to cage-free and ensure that new cage-free systems actually create higher welfare than the cage systems they replace.

Strategies for Ethical and Environmental Development: $50k

General support for a promising new organization.

Strategies for Ethical and Environmental Development (SEED) is a new organization that was founded by experienced former staff of Animal Equality and Mercy For Animals. SEED plans to focus on enforcement of existing corporate policies and legislation (e.g., cage-free policies), and in addition they wish to support new welfare outreach and campaigns for fish and chickens. We view enforcement work as a particularly important aspect of corporate campaigning, one that may be crucial to get right early on. With their concrete plans for operations in the US and Brazil, countries that both have relatively large overall animal product consumption and production, we are excited to offer initial support for SEED, and we look forward to monitoring their progress in the coming months.

Encompass: $45K

Building a more racially inclusive, equitable, and diverse farm animal movement.

Encompass works with farm animal organizations to help them become more inclusive and equitable, and empowers farm animal advocates who are black, indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC). We supported Encompass in early 2018, and have been happy to see it expand its work, influence, and impact since then. This grant will support Encompass to grow the pipeline of animal advocates around the world via its Global Majority Caucus. We're particularly excited to support this international expansion of Encompass' work, as we think our movement will only succeed globally if it embraces and reflects the diversity of the world we live in.

Fundación Vegetarianos Hoy: $35k

General support to help farmed animals in Chile and Columbia.

Fundación Vegetarianos Hoy was founded in Chile, primarily focusing on institutional meat reduction campaigns. To date, they've worked with companies to add vegan options in over 350 restaurant locations across the country. In 2019, they expanded their programs to include cage-free advocacy and succeeded in securing commitments from a handful of restaurants, including the largest sushi chain in Chile. Now, they are planning to expand their work by hiring Campaigns and Communications staff to oversee their programs in Chile and Colombia. We expect this funding to support their promising work in the global south, especially in countries where farmed animal welfare advocacy is largely neglected.

Fish Welfare Initiative: $30k

General support for a promising new organization.

Fish Welfare Initiative (FWI) is a new group aiming to find and implement the most promising ways of helping fish. We see this area as quite an important area for the movement, especially given the large number of farmed fish, the dearth of evidence on this general topic, and the relatively small amount of resources that currently goes towards this area. In the past we have had some reservations about FWI, including reservations about their focus on a small-scale pilot of a welfare improvement intervention on a few farms, as well as their very lean approach to fundraising. Despite such reservations, we believe this group still has significant potential, and see this grant as supporting FWI in the hopes that they will contribute to promising outcomes in the coming years.

Note: Karolina Sarek recused herself from this grant evaluation.

Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST): $30K

General support to help farm animals in Taiwan.

EAST campaigns to improve farm animal welfare in Taiwan, and to leverage this progress to advance farm animal welfare across East Asia. We continue to be impressed by their work, which we've now funded multiple times. This funding is intended to support them to continue the work that we've funded previously, especially corporate and legislative work to eliminate battery cages.

Essere Animali: $25K

Fish welfare corporate campaigning in Italy.

Essere Animali is an Italian investigations and campaign group that has recently turned its attention to fish welfare. We supported it in 2018 to extend into fish welfare work. Since then, it has released a number of undercover investigations at fish farms in Italy and Greece, two of the largest fish farming and consuming nations in Europe. This grant will enable Essere Animali to extend its campaigning and engagement with Italian retailers to establish fish welfare standards, which, if successful, would affect fish production in Italy, Greece, and other countries exporting to Italy.

Planet For All Hong Kong: $25k

Cage-free advocacy in Hong Kong.

Committee members of the Hong Kong Veg Society recently formed a newly established group called Planet For All Hong Kong. This volunteer-run organization intends to advocate for egg-laying hens in Hong Kong by raising public awareness and partnering with food industry players to improve their animal welfare standards. Given the track record of the group's leaders and the high level of neglect of this type of advocacy in the region, we see significant value in supporting this new organization.

Humánny pokrok: $25k

*General support for farmed animal advocacy in Slovakia. *

Humánny pokrok's program areas include corporate cage-free campaigns, veg advocacy campaigns, and hosting plant-based food festivals in Slovakia. They are also planning to pursue a legislative cage ban in the future. This group has made significant progress for farmed animals in Central Europe, securing cage-free policies from the majority of the retail sector. Fundraising has been especially challenging this year with the impending recession and the necessary cancelation of the organization's plant-based food festivals, which typically support their overall budget. We expect these funds to support the organization's Development department, allowing them to sustain their impactful work long-term.

Dzīvnieku brīvība: $20k

General support for cage-free advocacy and people operations.

Dzīvnieku brīvība is the leading farmed animal organization in Latvia. Since beginning cage-free work in 2017, this grassroots organization has secured dozens of cage-free commitments from restaurants and leaders in the hospitality and retail sectors, including Latvia's largest hotel chain, Mogotel. In addition to boosting its current programs, the group's leadership is aiming to invest in its staff by providing competitive salaries and additional benefits. Although technically unrestricted, we expect these funds will allow the organization to provide sustainable employee salaries and advance its existing cage-free campaigns.

VegeProject Japan: $15k

General support for farmed animal advocacy in Japan.

Despite Japan's relatively large number of animals farmed, VegeProject Japan is one of the few groups active in Japan. We hope this funding can help them hire additional staff so that they can continue with their efforts to increase the number of plant-based options across Japan, whether that is by additional corporate or government outreach, or maintaining their map of restaurants offering plant-based options within the nation's capital. Even though we have some uncertainty about how effective these tasks will generally be, we nevertheless see significant value to supporting the grassroots movement in Japan. To a significant extent, that view is informed by our beliefs about the importance of building the movement in neglected East Asian countries, which are relatively large consumers of aquaculture products, with Japan itself being a large export destination for Chinese aquaculture.

Asociación para el Rescate y Bienestar de los Animales (ARBA): $10k

Cage-free advocacy in Peru.

A formally volunteer-run organization, Asociación para el Rescate y Bienestar de los Animales (ARBA) was the first to advocate for farmed animals in Peru. Since 2018, this grassroots organization has hired their first full-time employees and secured the first corporate cage-free commitments in the country, including over 30 policies in the hospitality and restaurant sectors. We expect funds to support the continuation of this work and aid in the professionalization of the organization.

Crustacean Compassion: $10k

General support for work on crustacean welfare and advocacy.

This group is pursuing a narrow but important goal: to extend the legal protections of the UK Animal Welfare Act to decapod crustaceans like crabs and lobsters. They believe that Brexit may create an opportunity to do this, given the UK government is considering what its animal welfare laws will be once EU directives cease to apply. They've already organized a public petition and open letter from 56 scientists, lawyers, and celebrities in support of the move. Although we can't be sure that crustaceans are sentient, their huge numbers --- perhaps 250-600B farmed globally every year --- create the potential for huge suffering if they are. The work of Crustacean Compassion directly falls within the kinds of projects this fund is most interested in, and we are excited about their work on improving or introducing new legislation for crustaceans.





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I'm really happy to see the Animal Welfare Fund is still getting lots of donations. I also think the range of organisations receiving grants is pretty awesome!

I'd be curious to hear someone from the Fund talk a bit about the rationale for providing smaller grants to a large number of organisations, rather than larger grants to a smaller number of the most promising projects. Apologies if this has been addressed before.

Sure! Here are some of my quick(ish) thoughts that don’t necessarily represent those of others on the fund:

  1. Generally not wanting the fund to be more than ~50% of any group's budget. That could cause over-reliance on the fund, hurt their fundraising efforts with other funders, and possibly disincentivize other funders from contributing to promising groups.
  2. Larger groups often do a variety of programs, some of which may be much less impactful. There’s some reason to be wary of funging less impactful programs and that may generally lean one away from funding larger groups who are capable of easily absorbing grants of more than say $100k.
  3. My sense is that smaller and medium sized groups aren’t able to absorb a significant amount of additional funding without significant diminishing returns. E.g., it seems that a lot of groups in our space have experienced really significant growing pains from trying to scale too quickly.
  4. Believing a number of promising opportunities are in low and middle income countries. Dollars can quite go far overseas and RFMF of small-medium size international group can easily be significantly filled by a $10-$30k grant. It also seems important to build up a now nascent movement in a large number of countries.
  5. Our granting cycle is every four months and we often fund some groups in multiple payouts over a year. E.g., while the meta fund may only make essentially one grant per group in a 12 month granting cycle, we might make 2-3 grants to numerous groups over the same period. Looking at individual payout reports might give the impression we are inclined to split funding across a large number of groups, perhaps significantly more so than viewing grant totals over a 12 month period.
  6. I think there’s some comparative advantage reasoning going on, because we want to add value to what can easily be achieved elsewhere. For instance, it is much easier for us to fund international groups than it is for small individual donors. We might also be more risk-neutral than a lot of other funders in the space, which can lend itself to funding less-established groups. Some other funds and funders also seem to focus more on promising groups that have scaled, and given their allocation of funding it can make most sense for us to focus on smaller opportunities.

I think all those thoughts might go some way in explaining the apparent split of funds across a relatively large number of grantees.

Good to see this reasoning! I had assumed that another reason was essentially that it enables lower-cost tests of the promise of particular ideas? I.e. EA Funds can support a number of small organisations to scale up slightly; if it goes well, then they might be candidates for funding from Open Philanthropy or other sources of larger grants.

Yeah, good point. I think I was counting that within 6. Thanks for drawing attention to that factor specifically!

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