Over the past few months, Charity Entrepreneurship has dedicated hours of work to researching ideas for potential animal charities that we believe could have uniquely high positive-impact. Our ask reports cover the impact of many different components of charitable interventions (for example, which animals to focus on). However, all of these reports are done only in the context of founding a new charity. Sometimes an area looks very promising, but there are so many strong organizations working in the area already that it would not be optimal to start a new one. Other areas are very easy to do incorrectly, and thus taking a gamble with a new charity is not worth it. However, if an organization were to do it right, it would definitely be worth funding it. Yet other areas might just not be at a stage where founding a charity is the right move. Below, we go into a few of the reasons we expect our recommended charities’ list to be different from the areas we would recommend for funding, research, or other non-entrepreneurship activities.
Strong existing organizations
If an area is full of very strong existing organizations, particularly ones that can accept more funding or talent, it weakens the area from the perspective of recommending a new charity. For example, in our historical research, bednets scored very low as an area to start a new charity in, but the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) is generally considered one of the strongest charities to donate to. In fact, AMF being so strong and able to absorb large amounts of funding is one of the reasons we did not recommend a bednet charity in the past.
Interventions that are easy to do wrong
Some interventions might be high impact, but due to very high levels of difficulty would not be optimal for founding a charity. For example, certain interventions might require 10-20 organizations to be founded in order to start one that makes a real difference. Therefore, due to its difficulty of execution, it would make better sense to fund a project that was already succeeding in the area instead of relying on a new one that has a very high chance of failure.
Interventions that are at the wrong stage of their life cycle
Some interventions are promising, but not at a stage where founding a specific charity would be the best next step. This could be because an intervention is too young and requires more research before conducting broader, charitable activities. It could also be due to the field being too old, with large players already established and conducting the needed effort in the area. A field that is too old might be a perfect field to fund, and a field that is too young would, generally, be a good field to research without necessarily founding a charity in it. Interventions, of course, can move at different rates, and it's difficult to clearly classify them. However, we do feel some classification of what stage they are at can help to explain why we found some asks to be more or less promising.
As such, it's not surprising that many of the areas we find most promising are in the field establishment section, with none of the ideas at the very ends of the spectrum matching the most promising ideas. However, if we were looking at the same set of interventions from a funding perspective, we would be mostly looking at “growing, refinement, and stabilization stages”. If we were looking at this list from a research perspective, requiring both long-term and short-term research would be ideal.
Through our research of animal welfare, we have learnt some lessons unrelated to what charities should be founded (and we plan on writing these up in the future). These lessons are about which charities to support and fund, as well as where further research would be most valuable to conduct. However, we expect these to be significantly different from what we recommend in our reports. This is because our reports are focused specifically on generating strong ideas for new charities.