Ren Springlea

My name is Ren and my pronouns are they/them. I work as a Research Scientist at Animal Ask. My work focuses on animal advocacy. I have experience in ecology, fisheries science, and statistics from my time in academia and government. I'm also personally interested in a wide range of other cause areas, particularly around social justice, politics, and democracy. In my time away from work, I enjoy singing, watching Star Wars, and playing Flesh and Blood TCG.

Topic Contributions


Minor political parties as an advocacy strategy: The case of animal politics

I had a quick look at EA grant makers at the beginning of the SA state campaign. I found that every EA grant maker I checked (can't remember which ones) had a clause saying that they won't fund political parties or campaigns. So I imagine there'd have to be a conversation with grant makers first about their policies - which may, understandably, be a tricky conversation.

The Australian government website says: "In late 2018 the Parliament passed legislation to ban political donations of $1,000 or more from foreign sources. ... The new rules ban donations from foreign donors: a person who does not have a connection to Australia, such as a person who is not an Australian citizen or an entity that does not have a significant business presence in Australia."
So yes, that could be a hurdle. But perhaps this idea could still work for parties in countries that do not have a law like this, or the funding could come from EA orgs or grant makers based in Australia.

I'm in two minds about the party being funding constrained. To be funding constrained would mean that extra funding would translate to either a higher vote or a better outcome in some other measure of influence. I haven't seen any evidence to either support or refute that claim. The SA state campaign's spend in 2022 was $100,000 and resulted in a vote of 1.5%, while in 2018 the spend  was $18,000 and resulted in a vote of 2.17%. Obviously that's just a single comparison, and the contexts varied wildly between those two years, but it's not obvious to me that extra spending would increase the vote (or other measures of influence). I previously looked at obtaining data from state branches on this question, but I don't believe I went ahead with that project.

Minor political parties as an advocacy strategy: The case of animal politics

Thank you for offering your thoughts. It's great to hear about similar work in other countries.

I read on Wikipedia ( that the Animalist Party got 2.16% in the 2019 European Parliament. Is that right? It seems like a solid result and similar to the results the Animal Justice Party typically gets in Australia - and, as you say, a way to build the legitimacy of animal-related issues.

Good luck for some positive outcomes in the future elections, both French and EU. I'll keep an eye on the results!

Minor political parties as an advocacy strategy: The case of animal politics

Thanks Lucas - good question. If Farrer's theory is on the right track (which I think it is), then traditional orgs and political parties are substitutable strategies to achieve any particular policy goal. The most effective strategy would depend on the goal and the context. Given this, it would make perfect sense for EA grant makers to also consider funding political campaigns by minor parties. I've seen that grant makers often explicitly exclude political parties, which I gather is an understandable concession to optics.

An argument against this is neglectedness - at least in my experience with the AJP, the party can readily generate its own funds through fundraising around election time. The government also provides funding for parties that achieve a particular threshold (not sure if this happens in other countries). Since minor political parties have access to these two sources of funding, this is a good reason why grant makers might choose not to fund political parties.

To me, it would make sense for EA grant makers to consider funding campaigns (subject to optics considerations of course), but it would also make sense for grant makers to require a strong argument why the political party in question can't get its funding from sources like these.