Open Philanthropy Project Farm Animal Welfare Newsletter
View this email in your browser
Why, What, and Where to Give to Help Farm Animals

Happy Holidays! Here are a few thoughts on how you can help farm animals this giving season.

Why to Give to Farm Animals

Most of us want our donations to do the most good they can in the world. Many effective altruists and the Open Philanthropy project consider three criteria in deciding where we’re most likely to have the greatest marginal impact: importance, neglectedness, and tractability.

  1. Importance. Last year, 70B mammals and birds were raised and slaughtered globally —  about 30B confined at any time. Another 50 -170B farmed fish were slaughtered for food, as were 200 - 400B farmed shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans, and potentially trillions of wild fish. That’s several times more sentient beings killed in one year than the number of humans that have ever lived. Each of those beings was an individual, with their own feelings, desires, and personalities, and most endured short, painful, miserable lives.
  2. Neglectedness. Last year, US donors gave Harvard University $55K per student, animal shelters about $360 per cat and dog they served, and farm animal advocacy groups 2.5 cents per farm animal they advocated for. This may be due to scope insensitivity. Americans tell Gallup they’re more concerned about the treatment of animals in America’s 19 animal circuses, which confine 69 elephants (and a few hundred other animals), than those in America’s roughly 110,000 factory farms, which confine 2,900,000,000 animals. (I think farm animals deserve more attention than they currently get, not that cats, dogs, or elephants deserve less, though Harvard students may.)
  3. Tractability. In the last few years, advocates have secured US and global corporate pledges that I estimate will spare about 400M hens/year from confinement in battery cages once implemented — 49.4M US hens are already cage-free largely as a result. They’ve secured further pledges to improve the welfare of about 440M broiler chickens/year by 2024 (or about 55M chickens alive at any time given their short lives). They won a Massachusetts ballot measure set to benefit 7M animals/year, released undercover investigations at over 100 factory farms and slaughterhouses, secured 100M+ online video views, recruited thousands of activists on campuses, and grew prototypes of the clean meat that may one day render factory farming obsolete.

The total donated to farm animal advocacy globally increased about 50% from 2014 to 2016, but remains tiny compared to the scale of the problem. All numbers are converted to USD. I attempted to include all farm animal advocacy groups globally with $1M+ revenues in 2016 — apologies if I missed one. I excluded groups not primarily focused on advocacy, e.g. farm sanctuaries. For groups working on multiple animal issues, I estimated the portion of their revenue devoted to farm animal related work — which means these numbers are less reliable — total revenues for these groups in 2016 were: ASPCA $217M; RSPCA $192M; HSUS $132M; PETA $67M; WAP $62M. Source: Form 990s, ACE reviews, estimates.

What to Give to Farm Animals

The most obvious thing to give is money. Many readers of this newsletter are blessed with the resources to do just that, and if you’re one of them I encourage you to do so. But if you’re rich in resources other than money, I hope you’ll consider donating other things to the movement:

  1. Your career. Joining an effective farm animal advocacy group may be the single best thing you can do to help farm animals. These groups are always looking for talented campaigners and organizers, managers and fundraisers, investigators and lawyers, and many other roles (if you already work for a group, thank you!). If you’re unsure how best to put your talents to use, I encourage you to contact 80,000 Hours, who offer free coaching to help you do the most good with the 80,000 hours in your career.
  2. Your time and expertise. Even if you can’t work full-time in the movement, there’s plenty you can do. You can sign up for Mercy for Animals’ Hen Heroes or The Humane League’s Fast Action Network to receive daily activism tasks. You can attend meetups of your local Effective Altruism group. Or you can build the skills to make a greater difference for farm animals in the future.
  3. Your access and influence. If you donate to political candidates, tell them that factory farming matters to you (if this makes you squeamish, consider that factory farmers don’t share your reservations). If you have a social media following, share investigations and campaign alerts. And if you know influential people, talk to them about factory farming.
Our dog Hope, herself formerly a farm animal in South Korea, is still deciding where she’s going to donate this giving season.

Where to Give to Farm Animals

If you have the financial resources to donate, here are some ideas. If you’re planning to give more than $25K or so, please email me, as some of these opportunities have limited room for more funding.

  1. Outsource your giving to Animal Charity Evaluators. Its Recommended Charity Fund is a great one-step option. 75% of funds will be split between ACE’s top charities — all of which I view highly — based on ACE’s perception of their room for more funding. The other 25% will go toward its standout charities, the majority of which I view highly.
  2. Outsource your giving to me. If you donate to the EA Animal Welfare Fund, I’ll allocate your funds based on where I think a marginal dollar can best be used to reduce animal suffering. (Three generous donors will also match your donation before year’s end to the Fund, or to the Good Food Institute, if you either give through their website, or email your receipt to But it’s worth considering the downsides: I already recommend Open Phil’s grants, so this reduces the diversity of giving perspectives and may make groups less willing to expand than if their funds come from a wider array of sources.
  3. Consider neglected approaches or areas. Most donors don’t fund groups outside of the US or Western Europe, so if you’re comfortable with the higher risks of international giving consider groups like Sinergia Animal (Brazil, Chile, Columbia) or Otwarte Klatki (Poland, Ukraine). Donors are less likely to fund more exploratory research, so if you’re excited about that consider the Sentience Institute or Wild Animal Suffering-Research. And some donors are less willing to fund behind-the-scenes corporate outreach seeking welfare reforms, so if you are consider Compassion in World Farming USA or the Albert Schweitzer Foundation (Germany).
  4. Consider opportunities unique to you. During Hurricane Harvey, a number of animal EAs donated to help an Animal Charity Evaluator staffer who lost all his possessions in the storm. Consider if you know of similar opportunities to help farm animal advocates in need, or simply to be more effective (and if you’re an advocate who couch-surfs to save money, consider treating yourself to productivity-enhancing costs like hotel rooms). You may also want to think about whether you know about unique opportunities to support new groups or startups.

I hope this was helpful. And I hope that you have a well-deserved break this holidays. Best wishes for a successful new year for you and the animals!

Ps. looking for some holiday reading? I put together a list of the 22 books that I'm aware of that farm animal and plant-based movement leaders published this year, and the nine I'm aware of that they're planning to publish in the next six months.

If you got forwarded this email, you can sign up here

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Open Philanthropy Project · 182 Howard Street · San Francisco, CA 94105 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp