All of Leah_E's Comments + Replies

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

Hi Michael, this is a big question! It's getting a bit late but I want to give you some of my quick thoughts:

Research into reducing fish suffering (scale, promising interventions, tractability, etc.) is needed, and there are a few groups working in this area, such as our Top Charity Albert Schweitzer Foundation and newly-founded organizations Fish Welfare Initiative and Aquatic Life Institute.

Economic research, including research into economic interventions. We have an economist starting on our team in May!

Research into ways we can positively influenc... (read more)

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

While I’ve been working in this space long enough that many of our ethical stances don’t feel counterintuitive to me anymore, I’m sure some of our stances come across that way to mainstream audiences. Farmed animal advocacy is still considered a very niche topic in society at large, even though it’s the primary focus of our work at ACE. Wild animal welfare is another topic that we find challenging to communicate about to mainstream audiences, even though it’s a high priority for many of us in the EAA community (I remember... (read more)

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

We seek to gather data about this question through our annual Donor Survey. Our most recent published data is from 2018, and we are planning to publish the results from our 2019 survey soon.

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

Hi Ben, that’s a great question. We don’t have a lot of conclusive research on this topic, so what I’m sharing here are just my personal intuitions. I think that food technology will play a major role in the future reduction of farmed animal suffering. However, I wouldn’t consider this an “either/or” question. Many people who work in the food technology space around this issue view their work as advocacy. Additionally, many of the people focused on improving the welfare of animals currently living on factory farms ... (read more)

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

I would recommend that those who are trying to better understand their intuitions around which cause areas to prioritize try out 80,000 Hours' problem quiz.

Answers, for reference: * Will corporations stick to their animal welfare commitments? * When will specific animal free food technologies become cost-competitive with their traditional animal counterparts? * Timelines for cultured meat coming to market? * When will technology exist which allows the identification of the sex of a chicken before it hatches? When, if ever, will such a technology be adopted * When, if ever, will the global production and consumption of farmed animals stop growing? When will stop completely? * When will specific countries or states adopt legal protection for animals / farmed animals? * When will EAA organizations have a budget of more than $500 million? $1 billion? * Questions related to the pandemic. * Questions related to the budget of EAA organizations in the immediate future.
AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

EAG attendees tend to be fairly familiar with ACE's work, but if I have to speculate, here are a few things that people may get wrong about ACE:

  • ACE's charity recommendations are heavily dependent on our CEEs. Please see this page on our use of cost-effectiveness estimates for more details.
  • ACE is a "watchdog" organization. I think that this misconception is less prevalent in the EA community, but it is one we encounter fairly often. We recently published a blog post explaining why ACE is not a watchdog organization to help clear up any c
... (read more)
AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

We’ve seen a lot of change in our relatively short existence in the movement. Early on, ACE was one of few organizations working to synthesize the existing research, and now we’re in a position where there are lots of organizations doing really great research. This has led to a really positive collaborative spirit, and strengthened the body of research we have available to us in the movement. We are now seeing substantially more funding into research that is of a better quality and using stronger norms (e.g. use of the Open Science Framework)... (read more)

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

There are a few ways in which we see ACE changing and evolving in the future. Given the number of new research organizations that have entered the EAA space since our founding (yay!), we will likely narrow our focus to make sure we continue to add as much value as possible to the movement and don’t duplicate the efforts of others. In particular, we’ve chosen to narrow the focus of our non-evaluations/grantmaking research this year exclusively to questions that can help better inform our decision-making in those two processes. This is partiall... (read more)

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

I’d like to see more organizations focus on developing their management, leadership, and governance capacities. I know that your research at Animal Advocacy Careers on skill gaps in the movement identified this as a priority, and it’s something I hear repeatedly from other funders in the movement as well.

The reason this has become such a priority is a side effect of a great problem to have—our movement’s funding has grown significantly in the past several years, and organizations are growing larger than ever and able to take on more ambitious goals than ever before.

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

How a charity performs on our seven evaluation criteria is the strongest determinant as to which charities receive a recommendation from us. When deciding whether to award a charity a Top or Standout Charity status, the charity’s room for more funding tends to be a deciding factor.

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

Hi Louis! Thanks so much for your question. I feel that the movement's strategy should always be influenced by the holistic context in which we operate and current events. One quick example that comes to mind of a project working directly with farmers is Mercy for Animals' recently launched “Transfarmation” project, which helps support farmers in transitioning out of animal agriculture and into growing crops for plant-based products.

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

My intuition on this is that our movement spends an appropriate percentage of our resources on research, but I’m sure others have different opinions on this question. I’d like to see the total budget of EAA increase dramatically though—both the amounts spent on direct work and the amounts spent on research.

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

Rescinding charity recommendations is not something that we take lightly. We have only done this in the case of serious issues that were brought to our attention, and because of this reason, I find it hard to recommend one universal course of action. In some cases, we have recommended that previous donors continue supporting a charity at a lower level in order to prevent the issue you described. In other cases, we have not done so.

In general, we feel that supporting our Top or Standout Charities, Recommended Charity Fund, and Effective Animal Advocacy Fund... (read more)

AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

Hey Peter! Thanks for your question! Historically we’ve not engaged too much with longtermism, and so we are yet to make any changes to our programming as a result. It is becoming increasingly clear that this is a cause area that deserves more of our time than we have given it. Recently we have started two projects that we hope will result in blog posts exploring how EAA overlaps with longtermism, hopefully with useful takeaways for those working in each cause area, so keep an eye out!

2Peter Wildeford2y
That's awesome!
AMA: Leah Edgerton, Executive Director of Animal Charity Evaluators

Thanks for the questions.

Regarding animal advocacy, some EAG attendees might assume that animal advocacy is all about direct care of injured animals, especially companion animals, and about changing the attitudes and opinions of the general public towards them. However, animal advocacy is a broad and diverse movement, where people carry out varied interventions targeting different animal issues, ranging from lobbying politicians to advocate for farmed animal welfare laws, implementing alternatives to animal products, developing research on how to help wild... (read more)

Concrete project lists

Animal Charity Evaluators also has a post of Charities We'd Like To See.

Easy Ways to Volunteer Effectively for Animals

Hi David, here's a relevant quote from our latest interview with Paul Shapiro on effective volunteering:

"JB: Could you talk about how you feel grassroots efforts such as leafleting and pay-per-view contribute to the success of the movement?

PS: I’m respectful of it and I’ve done a lot of it myself. I think that can be a good use of volunteers’ time, but generally speaking it’s less efficient than policy and institutional reforms are. I would recommend to animal groups they try to think about ways they can engage their volunteers to be part of broader ... (read more)

Easy Ways to Volunteer Effectively for Animals

Thanks for your question. We do have a Volunteer Advice page on our website that gives some ideas as well as links to in-person opportunities. We also will be publishing an interview on Thursday that touches on the topic.

Accomplishments Open Thread - July 2016

July has been an exciting month so far for ACE!

We updated our Survey Guidelines, providing resources for animal advocacy groups to evaluate the effectiveness of their own programs.

We worked with Huffington Post to get this fantastic article published, by Nico Pitney.

We launched our Animal Advocacy Research Fund, so academics and organizations can now apply for funding on research projects. We hope that this project will provide much-needed evidence to help all animal advocates be more effective in their work.

0Catherine Low6y
I was really pleased to see that Research Fund! I am really looking forward to the results in time - I feel that there are a bunch of people waiting for more research in the animal advocacy field before taking action.
Great article in HP, nice job getting it there! And as an academic myself, I'm glad to see you putting some funding into helping get them on board with providing evidence for animal advocates!
Accomplishments Open Thread - June 2016

Thanks for sharing the post on CFAR workshop! It sounds like a valuable experience. Perhaps I will consider attending someday!

Congrats also on the success of your articles!

Thanks for the good words about my articles, and I hope you do have a chance to go to CFAR someday!
Accomplishments Open Thread - May 2016

Thanks Gleb for the heads-up on this thread!

Lots going on at ACE over the past month that we are excited about:

-We've opened registration for Symposium on effective animal advocacy, happening at Princeton in November.

-We've completed our evaluation of undercover investigations.

-We published two new interviews on our website with David Wolfson and Will Potter, both of which have a lot of useful content for effective animal advocates.

-We created a Bequest Policy, to enable donors to give to effective animal charities in their wills.

-We've made new conne... (read more)

Nice to hear about your progress. Interesting findings on undercover investigations, nice to know about the nuanced findings there.
Accomplishments Open Thread - April 2016

Thanks Gleb_T for encouraging me to post to this thread!

With some very helpful advice from Gleb, at Animal Charity Evaluators we were able to get a letter to the editor published about a recent bill proposed in Oklahoma.

Glad to help, and congrats on getting the letter to the editor published!