March 2018: Animal Welfare Fund Grants

Payout Date: May 1, 2018

Total grants: $750,000

Number of grantees: 16



Thank you for donating to the EA Animal Welfare Fund. I’m recommending new disbursements of $750K to 17 groups and want to provide a little explanation behind my allocations. I intend to recommend another round of disbursements in the next few months.

I’m recommending grants to 17 groups that I think best meet my goal with the fund: to maximize the marginal impact of each dollar in reducing animal suffering. Open Phil and other donors continue to fill my perception of the room for more funding at the large groups that I expect to achieve this goal most effectively, e.g. Animal Charity Evaluators’ top charities. So I’m focusing on three categories of promising groups that I think are neglected:

  • Small Asian and Latin American groups. Most funders aren’t aware of these groups or able to easily fund them. Open Phil may fund some in future, but is unlikely to do so in the next six months based on their size and our priorities.
  • New media projects. Most funders aren’t aware of these opportunities, and they’re a bit small and speculative for Open Phil right now.
  • Neglected EA-aligned groups. These EA-aligned groups have been neglected by other funders for now, and are typically too small for Open Phil to support.

Asia and Latin America Groups ($370K)  

$50K to EAST (Taiwan)

$50K to ProVeg International (China expansion)

$50K to Sinergia Animal (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia)

$50K to the Fórum Nacional de Proteção e Defesa Animal (Brazil)

$50K to Dharma Voices for Animals (Sri Lanka)

$20K to the Asociación Para el Rescate Y Bienestar Animal (Peru)

$20K to the Animal Rights Center Japan

$20K to Animal Friends Jogja (Indonesia)

$20K to Animal Kingdom Foundation (Philippines)

$20K to Animal Nepal

$20K to Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (South Korea)  

Media Projects ($160K)

$85K to Sentient Media

$50K to the Intercept

$25K to Animal Welfare Media  

Neglected EA-Aligned Groups ($220K)

$100K to Wild-Animal Suffering Research, via the Effective Altruism Foundation

$70K to the Sentience Institute

$50K to Encompass

Asia and Latin America Groups

The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) ($50K)

Policy campaigns and movement building in Taiwan. I’m excited about expanding the farm animal advocacy movement in East Asia. EAST is the primary grassroots group in Taiwan, where ~105M land farm animals are confined at any time. It’s not solely focused on farm animals, but appears to have achieved policy successes in that area, e.g. securing labeling of eggs by method of production. I was impressed by the group’s leader, Wu Hung, and heard positive things about the group from a number of people I trust. This grant will enable them to scale up their corporate campaigns and push for a national ban on cages.

ProVeg International ($50K)

Pilot expansion into China. ProVeg International, a plant-based advocacy group, is the odd one out here in terms of neglectedness — they already have a fast-growing budget of >$3M annually. But another major funder thinks they have room for more funding. And I’m excited about an initiative that they say they still need funding for: piloting a potential expansion into China, which has by far the world’s most farm animals. I think ProVeg is well-suited to operating in China because of its cooperative approach and focus on institutions rather than individuals, that they’re approaching China with appropriate due diligence, and that this is a good test case for groups of this sort entering China.

Sinergia Animal ($50K)

Corporate campaigns in Latin America. I continue to be impressed by the corporate wins that Carolina Macedo Galvani and her team are achieving in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. They’ve already secured half a dozen corporate reform commitments on battery cages and gestation crates since the start of the year. But there aren’t yet major sources to supplement their budget of ~$100K/year beyond this fund, the Open Wing Alliance, and potential Open Phil funding in future (which I’m not prioritizing because of the size of any potential grant).

The Fórum Nacional de Proteção e Defesa Animal ($50K)

Corporate campaigns in Brazil. I continue to be impressed by the Forum’s corporate campaigns on battery cages and gestation crates in Brazil, for similar reasons to what I wrote last November. Brazil has ~1.7B farm land animals at any time, but also a vibrant animal advocacy movement that’s made major progress in recent years, in part thanks to the Forum. The group continues to have funding needs that Brazil’s constrained philanthropic sector isn’t filling.

Dharma Voices for Animals ($50K)

Buddhist advocacy for veg eating in Sri Lanka. Dharma Voices for Animals is a Buddhist animal advocacy group that engages religious leaders in promoting veganism. This seems like a potentially promising approach given that of all the major religions Buddhism speaks most strongly on an obligation to prevent animal suffering. This grant would support its new project in Sri Lanka, where ~70% of people are Theravada Buddhists and the group seems to have impressive connections. E.g. it says its Sri Lanka Project launch was attended by 600 people in Colombo, including The Speaker of the Sri Lanka Parliament, and screened on national TV. Sri Lanka has comparatively few farmed animals (~20M farm land animals), but my hope is that if this project succeeds, it could be replicated in Thailand or Myanmar, where ~90% of the population is Theravada Buddhist.

Asociación Para el Rescate Y Bienestar Animal (ARBA) ($20K)

Corporate campaigns in Peru. This grassroots Peruvian animal protection group has traditionally focused on non-farm animal work. But it recently took part in Open Wing Alliance training and is eager to launch corporate campaigns in Peru, which has 180M land farm animals at any time. It is constrained mainly by its small budget ($25K/year), so I’m recommending a grant as large as it seems likely to be able to usefully absorb in the near term.

Animal Rights Center of Japan ($20K)

Policy and grassroots campaigning in Japan. This fits within the same priority as the EAST grant, of boosting farm animal advocacy in East Asia. Japan confines ~320M land farm animals at any time, and I understand the Animal Rights Center to be the primary group working on factory farming there. I’m recommending a smaller sum because I know less about the group.

Animal Friends Jogja ($20K)

Factory farm investigations and policy advocacy in Indonesia. Chetana Mirle, the former director of Humane Society Intl’s farm animal work and someone I respect immensely, recommended this grant based on her personal experience with the group. Given Indonesia’s importance (~2.16B land farm animals and ~5B farmed fish), I’m recommending this smallish grant without further diligence, though I’m hoping to investigate the group more extensively later in the year.

Animal Kingdom Foundation ($20K)

Factory farming awareness and policy advocacy in the Philippines. Chetana also recommended this grant based on her personal experience. The Philippines is also important (~215M land farm animals and ~2B farmed fish), so I’m also recommending this smallish grant without further diligence.

Animal Nepal ($20K)

Research and policy advocacy in Nepal. I’ve heard two positive reviews of Animal Nepal. It’s the only group in a country with ~95M land farm animals at any time, and it thought it could achieve a lot on $10K, so I’m proposing seeing what it could achieve with $20K. The group may be overly optimistic, but I think it’s a chance worth taking.

Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth ($20K)

Factory farm policy advocacy in South Korea. South Korea’s new government has paid more attention to farm animal welfare than any other East Asian government, recently announcing limited reforms to factory farms. I’m not sure how much role CARE played in this, and want to research it more. But in the meantime I want to help CARE take advantage of the window of opportunity that may exist to push for more reforms in this nation of ~190M land farm animals. CARE works primarily on non-farm animal issues, but seems to have done some effective advocacy on farm animal welfare.

Media Projects

Sentient Media ($85K)

Launch new farm animal-focused media group. This will support the formation of a new group with the goal “to create and sustain salience and urgency about animal suffering and its causes, especially factory farming,” through generating more earned media. I like the idea: multiple advocates I respect had suggested such a group for years and said that similar groups have helped other social movements create salience, e.g. The Marshall Project and Inside Climate News. The group is founded by Mikko Jarvenpaa, who has previously worked with the media industry as CEO of two startups (Infogram, Vuact) and has skin in the game — he’s funding most of the initial work himself. This grant will enable Mikko to rapidly scale up this group and sustain it for nine months — enough to validate the concept.

The Intercept ($50K)

Video stories to promote awareness of factory farming. The Intercept has recently produced a series of articles and videos on the US farm animal movement and factory farming (see, e.g., here and here). Its Co-founding Editor Glenn Greenwald seems personally committed to this issue, meaning the organization will likely keep publishing similar pieces and promoting them even without outside funding. But The Intercept says that it lacks the resources to do extensive video pieces, which seems reasonable given video is expensive and The Intercept has many priorities. This grant would enable a pilot project to produce three longer, deeply reported video stories on factory farming. I also view this as a test for potential greater funding in future.

Animal Welfare Media ($25K)

Videos to promote awareness of factory farming. Animal Welfare Media has produced a number of viral videos for farm animal groups. I’m somewhat skeptical about how impactful online videos are generally, but am impressed by Animal Welfare Media’s low cost ($12K/video) and reach (its prior farm video videos seem to have generated 500K-3M views each across platforms based on my count). Given $12K would cover printing and distributing ~40K leaflets in the most efficient programs, the viral videos could be equally cost-effective even if they were >10X less effective per view (even assuming everyone who gets a leaflet is a “view”). This grant will enable Animal Welfare Media to produce two videos focused on factory farming, likely one for Faunalytics and one for a more advocacy-focused group. I view this as a test for potential greater funding of this in future.

Neglected EA-Aligned Groups

Wild-Animal Suffering Research / The Effective Altruism Foundation ($100K)

Research on improving the welfare of wild animals. This will provide continued support for the research of Persis Eskander, Ozy Brennan, and Georgia Ray into the subjective experiences of wild animals, and how we could improve them. I continue to view this space as highly important and neglected, and view this team as talented. More on this in my last writeup.

The Sentience Institute ($70K)

Building the EA animal movement. I continue to be unsure how successful the Sentience Institute’s activities will be in bringing about the moral circle expansion it seeks. But I think it’s already performing a useful role in building the EA animal movement. In particular, I’m happy to see it (1) generating relevant empirical data, like its survey on US opinion on factory farming and its compilation of global factory farming stats, (2) producing relevant case studies for EA animal advocates, e.g. on the British anti-slavery movement and the adoption of nuclear power, and (3) publishing thought pieces to advance ideas within EA circles, like Jacy’s recent post on prioritizing moral circle expansion over AI alignment. This sum is intended to be enough for the Sentience Institute to support one researcher for a year, though it has total discretion in how to use these funds.

Encompass ($50K)

Building a more racially inclusive, equitable, and diverse farm animal movement. Encompass is trying to make the US farm animal movement more reflective of the diversity of America, and inclusive and welcoming to everyone. I believe this is important and neglected work. There are multiple smart advocates and groups approaching this issue from different perspectives, and I don’t mean with this grant to endorse Encompass’ approach over any other. Instead, I intend to address an immediate funding need — Encompass has clear room for more funding — and to support someone I have a high opinion of, Aryenish Birdie, and the impressive board and advisory council she’s established to guide her. I also view this as an exploratory grant as we continue to research this area.