588 karmaJoined Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India


Hey, just chiming in here on behalf of the organization I co-founded (Fish Welfare Initiative). We went through AIM’s charity incubation program in 2019—their first formal cohort.

The following are a couple points I had:

1 - Echoing requests for evidence

As some people have already commented above, insofar as you have serious criticisms about various charities (CE or otherwise) it’d be helpful for you to provide some evidence for them.

In particular, it’d be interesting to learn more why you think AAC is “okay”, why Animal Ask “hasn’t had much impact”, and/or why FWI “hasn’t worked very well.”

I really think I would be happy to consider these arguments, but I first want to understand them.

I would personally wager that CE leading giving in the animal space would be net-negative for the space compared to the status quo (which, to be fair, is very bad already)

It’d also be helpful to know why you think the animal space, or maybe just giving in the animal space, is “very bad already”. (I know that in particular might be a lot for you to respond to though.) This brings me to my second point.

2 - Just because animal/CE charities are flawed doesn’t mean they’re not worth supporting.

One thread of your comments is one I really resonate with: The animal movement is not good enough. Our evidence is often subpar, decisions are made hastily, we don’t have the right people, etc. Unfortunately, I think this is all true.

But what should we really do differently? If, as you suggest, CE produces not super great animal charities, but it’s still (as you say) “the best bet in the animal space for future new high impact orgs”, then should we just resign ourselves to not launching and running any new animal-focused charities?

My point here is that just because something isn’t as good as we would like (e.g. IMO the best animal charities don’t have even 10% the evidence base of GiveWell’s top charities), that doesn’t mean they’re not worth doing or supporting. Sometimes I think we do ourselves a disservice by always comparing ourselves to human health/poverty alleviation charities: These human-focused orgs literally have decades or even a century more of an evidence base built up than we do. They don’t have an entrenched opposition. And they aren’t trying to change something people derive pleasure from 3 times a day.

We need to build a large and effective movement for reducing animal suffering and ending factory farming. That is going to require starting somewhere, no doubt with lots of early mistakes in the early days.

Of course, I don’t mean to say that anything goes—some ideas are still certainly too dumb to start and some charities too poorly-run to continue. However, I think we need to appreciate that we’re in the very early days of animal advocacy and we need to think about our approaches as such.

3 - On taking the advice of the EA Funds and OpenPhil over CE

This seems to be an important actionable takeaway you’d like people to have:

>>I don't think donors should take much guidance from them, compared to OpenPhil or the EA Animal Welfare Fund

Just wanted to point this out in case you’re not already aware, but these two granting bodies already heavily grant to CE-incubated animal orgs.

For instance:

  • FWI has received about 5 grants from the EA AW fund over the years, and 1 grant from Open Philanthropy.
  • Animal Ask has received at least 1 grant from the EA AW fund and 2 grants from OpenPhil.

And I believe SWP and AAC have also received money from one or both of these funders.

So it seems like either you should think that a) CE animal orgs are actually more promising than you claimed, b) the EA AW Fund and OpenPhil are actually less promising than you implied, or c) these funds are just scraping the bottom of the barrel and grant to CE orgs for lack of better options.

Fwiw, and after talking a reasonable amount with these funders, I’m fairly of the opinion that correct answer is mostly A here.

4 - About Fish Welfare Initiative (FWI) specifically

It’s worth noting that FWI has varied a fair bit from the original idea (see the short published report here) that CE had made when we first launched. Broadly though, CE didn’t give us that certain of a direction—rather, we understood that there are serious problems with how humans raise farmed fish, dissolved oxygen is one of them, and we should do further research to design a specific intervention to help them. Of course it would have been better if there was better research or a more concrete direction for us to go in, but again: We are in the early days of the animal movement and there’s still not enough of an evidence base for most things.

I also agree with Karolina above that it’s not necessarily bad that charities pivot from the original idea (provided that they pivot to something useful).

As for how promising FWI is today, I’d be interested to hear (as I stated in Point 1 above) why you think FWI “hasn’t worked very well”. As I state in Point 2, I think we have certainly made loads of mistakes, but that we’re also having a moderate impact right now and investing in tackling a very important and very neglected problem. You can learn more specifically about all this in our last year in review, or also by seeing our current projects.

Also as mentioned in Point 3, we have received grants from OpenPhil and the EA AW Funds, and are a recommended charity by ACE. Perhaps you think that these organizations have made some mistake in recommending FWI, but then I think you’re in a position of doubt on the entire animal movement (which, to be fair, seems like that might be the position you are in). To that, I would say see my Point 2—these are the early days, and even though no org is perfect we need to start somewhere.

5 - Feel free to dm me

I think it’d be interesting to hear your response to some or all of these points publicly as other people seem to have similar questions, but if you feel uncomfortable doing that feel free to dm or email me. I think there’s a good chance we already know each other, in which case I’d be especially interested to chat more to come to some shared truth here.

Sorry again all for the novel of a comment!

Thanks Joel! And same to you—hope the research is going well

Thanks Ben! Yeah, I think we are often focusing more on the 1.1M we feel like we should have added to that, but definitely feels good to have had that impact still :)

Thanks Ben! Sometimes I think we tend to focus more on the extra 1.1M we were aiming for, but yeah we do feel good about the impact we did have :)


Thanks for posting this! I'm obviously biased (I work at Fish Welfare Initiative), but I think it's really important that people have a more intuitive understanding of the suffering these animals endure.

In addition to FWI, I wanted to highlight a few other organizations that people might be interested in looking into if they want to donate to help mitigate the horrors of this ongoing atrocity:

- Eurogroup for Animals
- Compassion in World Farming
- Aquatic Life Institute
- Equalia
- Animal Equality UK
- Albert Schweitzer Foundation
- Upstream Policies

Hey Nuño, thanks for doing this! This is interesting to see.

Fwiw, your placement of FWI in the ranking here broadly tracks with my own impressions of it, specifically that we're currently about an order of magnitude less effective than what I view as some of the currently most effective organizations. (This is of course something we're working to improve.)

You're very kind Andres. We're very grateful for what SWP does as well!

Seeing people take an idea from scratch and go out into the world to implement it is one of the things that inspires me most about many people in EA. Props to you all for having the audacity to do this, and more importantly props for building one of the most promising early-stage NGOs this community has created

I've enjoyed reading your work occasionally throughout the year—interesting stuff.

As a general point, posts like this push back against the seeming increasingly popular narrative that EA isn't funding constrained right now. Or more specifically, this post speaks to the fact that we can have a load of money but not be distributing it adequately to all the small non-profits (like SI) that could make good use of it.

Fish Welfare Initiative is now live on every.com! Thanks @WilliamKiely for making us aware of this opportunity.


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