Faunalytics Is Once Again A Standout Charity
In every social movement, there are charismatic individuals and high-profile organizations that help shape opinions and behavior in the public sphere. There are also people and groups working behind the scenes, doing the essential work of building movement capacity, conducting research, and figuring out what works (and what doesn’t). Faunalytics is the latter kind of organization, working to help all animal advocates be smarter and do more good.
It’s the kind of work that is often overlooked. This is why we are so pleased to announce that Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), which identifies and recommends effective animal groups, has again designated Faunalytics a “standout charity.” We’ve been a standout charity since 2015, when we were first evaluated. We’re grateful to ACE for recognizing the importance and impact of our work for animals and their advocates, as well as our cost-effectiveness and transparency.
Below I highlight some of the strengths (and weaknesses) mentioned in the full ACE review. We are honored by their continued recognition of Faunalytics and we appreciate their feedback. We also agree with their opinion that Faunalytics needs to do more to measure our impact, and we’re already working hard on this. In addition to the ACE designation, Faunalytics is a Guidestar Platinum nonprofit. We are committed to always doing our best and finding ways to improve our work for animals.
One thing about the ACE review I’m most proud of is their acknowledgement of our wonderful team. They wrote, “Faunalytics’ team seems to have a very high level of engagement; they scored an average of 6.75 out of 7 on the questions we adapted from Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement survey.” I recently announced that I’ll be stepping down on January 1 and continuing my Faunalytics work as a board member. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about entrusting this organization to our amazing crew: Brooke Haggerty, Jo Anderson, Karol Orzechowski, and Tom Beggs.
Our team is what makes Faunalytics a standout charity. For this Giving Tuesday, please help us celebrate the ACE announcement by making Faunalytics part of your charitable giving for the end of 2019! We’re excited to report that all donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000! With your support, we’ll be able to devote even more time and resources to identifying effective animal advocacy strategies, conducting independent studies on the most critical topics, and building our extensive research library.
Building the Movement’s Capacity
In the U.S., animal-related charities get about 1% of all donations from individuals and corporations. The proportion of people who engage in some form of animal advocacy is similarly low. We may have more impact than our size would suggest, but the fact is that we’re still tiny. If we’re going to change the world for animals, we need to both grow and also become more effective. The movement needs to bring in more money and more people, and we need reliable data to decide how to use our resources for animals most effectively. That’s what we mean by building capacity.
In their review, ACE wrote, “Working to build the capacity of the animal advocacy movement can have far-reaching impact.” They also noted that capacity building for animal advocacy is neglected relative to many other types of advocacy. As ACE says, “Faunalytics engages in independent research, research for clients, and maintenance of an animal advocacy research library, all of which are forms of capacity building.” In other words, we’re doing the kind of work that is essential to building an effective animal protection movement.
Conducting Essential Research
The cornerstone of Faunalytics’ work is the research that we conduct and the studies we share in our library. Research levels the playing field with animal abusers by giving advocates the knowledge to be effective even when they have limited resources. In their review, ACE agreed: “Faunalytics is working in an important field: supporting other organizations and advocates by creating and promoting existing research. We think that even small improvements made through research can substantially increase the number of animals helped if they are applied by many animal advocates.”
They also commented on the quality of Faunalytics’ research: “Their research projects are highly transparent, publicly available, and seem to be the result of an impact-focused project prioritization process.” Elsewhere in the review, ACE notes that Faunalytics’ research “is generally of good quality relative to other animal advocacy research, and their work helps the movement to become more effective and more evidence-based.” That’s why Faunalytics exists.
Thanks to our incredible research team, since 2017 we have also substantially increased the quality and transparency of our work. As mentioned in the ACE review, Faunalytics has a pre-registration and open-data policy and we make all of our independent studies publicly available through the Open Science Framework. We share our detailed methods and full datasets, we coach other advocates on research quality, and we have clear policies in place to protect research participants.
“As a result,” the ACE review says, “Faunalytics has successfully increased transparency and rigor in their projects, probably improving the quality of their research to a significant degree.”
How We’re Learning and Growing
The ACE review of Faunalytics is generally quite positive, which is probably why we’re a standout charity. But they also identified what they consider to be some weaknesses or areas of improvement. Faunalytics always appreciates constructive feedback and we take it to heart. We know that ACE is a team of thoughtful and passionate advocates and that their comments, both positive and negative, come from a place of wanting to do the most good for animals.
One thing that ACE highlights in their review is about Faunalytics doing a better job of measuring our impact for advocates and animals. ACE wrote, “The effects of Faunalytics’ programs on animals are indirect and difficult to measure. That said, we think they could do more to measure the impact of their research on other organizations and individual advocates.” In short, we agree and have been taking steps over the course of 2019 to both measure and increase our impact.
Specifically, Faunalytics has already implemented the first phase of our impact assurance and measurement plan, which entails identifying potential stakeholders for each new study and involving them in all phases of the research process. Next we will be improving on several existing ways of measuring our impact and adding new ones. Our goal is to identify objective measures for each of the five intermediate steps in our theory of change (which was influenced by ACE) and apply them at regular intervals going forward.
Another point raised in ACE’s review relates to research studies that Faunalytics conducts on behalf of other organizations. We have reduced this type of work in favor of independent research studies and pro bono support. This has allowed Faunalytics to assist almost two dozen groups and advocates in 2019 alone through our office hours and other pro bono support. The reduction in partner projects made this work possible by allowing us to reallocate our time more effectively. We are now able to help a larger number of organizations for lower cost to both us and them, while still occasionally working on larger partner projects.
Did I Mention It’s Giving Tuesday?
ACE is right that the decision to reduce partner projects and focus on independent research means that Faunalytics is more reliant than ever on your donations. We’re also growing and we hope to continue that growth in 2020 with your support. It’s an important time for Faunalytics as we welcome new leadership, choose new research priorities, and seek to sustain our growth. Will you join us this giving season and support our critical work to inform advocates so they can best help animals?
In their review, ACE estimated that Faunalytics’ “room for more funding” (the additional amount that we could use effectively) is between $230,000 and $550,000. We would use additional funds to continue our recent growth, expand our programs, and add to our small staff. Our focus would be on increasing our capacity for independent (and partner) research studies, improving communications and awareness of our studies, measuring our impact, and generally improving operations.
Today is Giving Tuesday, an international day of charitable giving when people donate to the charities they value the most. As ACE noted in their review, Faunalytics has a long-term focus and is doing the critical work of building the capacity of the animal protection movement. When you give to Faunalytics, you’re contributing to a data-driven and strategic future for all animal advocates. Thank you for donating generously by end of month to have your gift matched!