We’re proud to announce our 2020 Top Charity Ideas!
Each year Charity Entrepreneurship identifies highly effective interventions in chosen cause areas. Our Incubation Program gives participants the skills they need to start high-impact nonprofits based on our top intervention recommendations.
Our 2020 research period focused on four cause areas: mental health, animal advocacy, family planning, and health & development policy. We began with several hundred ideas in each cause area. Progressive stages of our extensive research process whittled down to eight recommended ideas.
Eighty-hour reports linked below illustrate how we came to recommend this year’s top interventions. We also provide Incubation Program participants with implementation reports, which provide specific recommendations to map a path forward for a new charity.
Our 2020 top recommendations are as follows (in no particular order):
From a starting point of 395 ideas, we selected the top 22 for further research through an idea sort. This Idea Prioritization Report is the second stage of our research process, and ranks the 22 ideas from most to least promising. Now the top 9 ideas will move to the next stage: 80-hour reports, which we will release in the coming weeks.
Government outreach is one possible approach for helping animals. It has advantages over other approaches because enshrining welfare into law eliminates most of the concern about recidivism that occurs with other methods, such as corporate campaigns. However, like other approaches, government outreach also has its flaws, which, due to differences in each country’s legislative system, will vary in severity from place to place. Its effectiveness depends on some key questions. Is there popular support for legislative change in the country? What is the likelihood of success for creating legislative change? And if they succeed, will animal welfare laws be enforced?
To answer some of these questions, this approach report examines governmental outreach for dissolved oxygen for fish in Taiwan and feed fortification for egg-laying hens in India. Using a cluster approach, we examine many sources of evidence that could support or disprove their expected impact. We also present the remaining crucial considerations surrounding these approaches. Our tentative conclusion is that lobbying for dissolved oxygen in Taiwan is likely moderately cost-effective, and feed fortification in India is one of the less cost-effective interventions we have considered.
This report considers how food technology can help animals by reducing the demand for conventional animal products and increasing the demand for plant-based and cell-based alternatives. We considered eight possible interventions, and cursory research on these ideas suggests that the most promising option is to create a plant-based seafood product. Therefore, this report provides an in-depth look into this specific intervention.
Our deeper research suggests that while product creation is the most promising intervention within food technology in terms of impact on animals, it is not the most promising intervention for Charity Entrepreneurship to focus on. This is for several reasons:
1) there is already a lot of work being done in this area by other organizations;
2) letting the market fund this start-up would be better than us starting this organization as the costs of production are very high;
3) as plant-based foods become more popular, the market will be incentivized to create plant-based seafood, and it will be better for this intervention to come from non-mission aligned private capital than philanthropic dollars; and
4) when comparing this approach with alternative approaches we might recommend, such as corporate and government outreach, our research suggests it is less cost-effective.
Conducting research is essential for identifying high-impact interventions and assessing the effectiveness of existing strategies. Unfortunately, the historical impact of research within the animal welfare space has been limited by poor quality studies, a lack of experienced researchers, and organizations’ lack of responsiveness to findings. In this report, we consider various approaches to animal welfare research and their prospects of being translated into positive impact for animals.
Should we minimize the suffering felt next year or speed up neglected welfare improvements? A simple model
In my work as a research analyst for Charity Entrepreneurship, I have been assessing possible animal welfare campaigns. The first thing I found is that finding the correct welfare asks for corporate or government campaigns is really hard. The scarcity of information in animal advocacy relative to other cause areas means that accurate decisions are harder to make. Establishing reliable metrics to assess ideas is essential to avoid wasting time. One way of doing this is to think about how to approximate the endline metric we are trying to maximise: counterfactual impact.
Are China and India the most promising countries for animal advocacy? A systematic country comparison
When considering starting a new charity, the question of which country to target is an important one. This post explains the process for prioritizing countries and how this system can be applied to different countries.
In recent years, there has been an observable shift in the animal advocacy movement towards institutional change. Corporate outreach is an institutional strategy that is widely used to achieve positive change for animals. It involves designated campaigns aiming to influence the behavior of corporations.
Decision-making on which charities to establish involves certain complex processes. Part of this analysis is looking at the effectiveness of different approaches. Currently at Charity Entrepreneurship, I am analysing how promising the corporate outreach campaigns are in implementing the most promising asks. Coming from a cluster approach perspective, I analyse multiple groups of evidence, one of which is historical case studies. This post explains an analysis about the counterfactual impact of cage-free corporate campaigns in the US.
The following report is a part of ongoing research by Charity Entrepreneurship looking into corporate outreach as a potential approach used to implement asks.
You can download the full report here:
When recommending different charities to start in the field of animal advocacy, a crucial question to consider first is which ask should be prioritized? Regardless of the approach - corporate outreach, governmental intervention or individuals focus intervention - we need to decide what we are going to ask them for in the first place.
This report considers gene modification for farmed animals with a focus on improving their welfare
This ask report considers interventions to aid fish used for fish stocking and bait.
Fish stocking is the practice of raising fish to be put into wild areas, such as rivers, to supplement the natural population. Baitfish are those caught to be used as bait for other fish. These two practices are commonly neglected within the animal ethics movement. However, the number of animals these two industries affect is potentially comparable to or even greater than the number of animals affected by other animal-based industries that we have considered in previous research. Furthermore, we have identified fish as one of our priority animals. Our speculative estimates suggest that a successful intervention for baitfish could save ~25 welfare points per animal, and for fish stocking could save ~23 welfare points per animal.
This ask report considers humane slaughter and transportation methods with the aim of reducing suffering during particularly stressful events in animals’ lives.
This ask report considers the impact of increasing the price of meat products to reduce demand.
For each salmon produced, it takes ~5 other fish to be caught in order to feed it. Great numbers of fish killed every year are not used directly for human consumption, but for the purpose of being fed to other farmed fish. The amount of fish fed to other fish exceeds the number of fish sold to consumers by an order of magnitude: around 0.45 to 1.2 trillion annually compared to 48 to 160 billion slaughtered for food globally in 2015.
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.
The following is a fictional story to illustrate a point.
The two interventions were both urgent. Animal Issues - Canada had been considering which of the two to pick for months. Jeremy thought that they should work on geese, as they had a significantly lower welfare standard than other in Canada. It looked clear to him that they should move the majority of their resources onto campaigns aimed at increasing the welfare of geese. However, his co-director disagreed. Jenny had been researching ducks and thought they were even more important than geese, since the ducks were slightly more numerous, although slightly better treated than the geese. It was a hard call, and so they chose to flip a coin. Both interventions were good, and flipping a coin seemed like a fair way of deciding, but both Executive Directors agreed that whatever the outcome, they would dedicate themselves to the issue.
But the coin betrayed them.
This ask report considers switching people’s consumption of chicken to beef.
This ask report considers preventing practices of mutilation on factory farms.
This ask report focuses on improving the environmental conditions of factory farmed animals. Specifically, it focuses on improving management of dissolved oxygen levels for fish.
Billions of animals live in extremely painful conditions. But there are also hundreds of ways to help them. From methods as direct as rescuing a single animal from a horrible life, to means as wide-reaching as working with governments and corporations in order to set up long term policies for improving the lives of millions of animals.
Given the ongoing suffering and all the possible ways to help, why would anyone concerned with animal issues choose to focus on something as abstract and long term as research?
Written by: Joey Savoie
Time capping can be defined as fixing the number of hours for a certain task, research project or decision, and keeping our research within those bounds. Most tasks can be completed at different levels of depth and research itself is never-ending - a single topic could be researched in an hour, or could equally be the subject of an entire PhD. The same applies to website design, outreach, polishing or to the many other tasks that an organization engages in. Given tasks that are not time capped, people will generally spend more time doing what they find fun or intriguing, instead of what is best to put hours into in the long run. By setting a time cap on a task, we pre-determine how important that task is relative to other counterfactual tasks. This approach often gets more done, albeit at some cost of depth – often 90% of the value of tasks is captured by the first 10% of the effort.
Ethical pest control
This ask report is focused on considering more humane pest killing and controlling mechanisms. There are possibly billions of rats and pest birds, as well as many other species of mammals and insects which are counted as pests. These animals are often killed non-humanely, and yet the animal advocacy movement has been relatively inactive within this problem. Few organisations have attempted to reduce the suffering of pests, and those that have did not scale up. Overall, a charity built around ethical pesticides seems moderately promising. This report considers various possible interventions and the crucial considerations involved.