Note: This article was last updated in June 2021 and reflects Animal Charity Evaluators’ most recent (2020) recommendations. For more information, visit the Animal Charity Evaluators Recommended Charities page.
Our team has personally spoken with many Canadians who feel a deep sense of grief about the amount of animal suffering in the world. Animal suffering is a huge problem, and huge problems can feel daunting.
The scale of the problem arises from the amount of animals experiencing suffering. Tens of billions of animals are confined in factory farms around the world, enduring a lifetime of cruel conditions. According to Our World In Data, in 2018 an estimated 69 billion chickens; 1.5 billion pigs; 656 million turkeys; 574 million sheep; 479 million goats; and 302 million cattle were killed for meat production. And these figures only account for farmed land animals (not aquatic animals), and only those that are slaughtered for their meat, not those raised for eggs or dairy.
Whether you are passionate about animal welfare, biodiversity, environmental impacts, or the lives of the workers employed in this industry, changing animal agriculture is an essential part of creating a healthier, happier world.
There is also animal suffering in the natural world, whether caused by humans or by other organisms. It is difficult to improve this complex situation. Nonetheless, given how many animals are affected and how little is known, it seems impactful for research to be conducted that could help discover or improve ways to help wild animals.
The massive suffering animals experience is becoming more solvable. Promising areas for change include developing fantastic alternative protein products; reforming the laws and policies that enable today’s animal agriculture practices; conducting high-quality research; and advocating for changes in practices and beliefs.
Donating to an effective animal charity is, for many Canadians, the most impactful thing they can do to alleviate animal suffering and contribute to solving this problem.
Which animal charities are the best?
The RC Forward team does not evaluate charities ourselves, because we do not have the expertise. We rely on the research and recommendations of charity evaluators and relevant experts. Their work helps us determine which organizations to feature as partner charities on the RC Forward donation platform.
To help you do the most good for animals, this article introduces the 10 animal charities that you can support through RC Forward. First, we’re excited to highlight the 4 current Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) Top Charities.
2020 ACE Top Charities
“ACE’s Top Charities work in ways that are most likely to produce the greatest gains for animals, actively evaluate and improve their programs, and have a demonstrated need for more funding. We promote them as our top giving opportunities and as ideal examples of effective advocacy.”Animal Charity Evaluators
The Good Food Institute (GFI) promotes and develops competitive alternatives to animal-based meat, dairy, and eggs.
Albert Schweitzer Foundation conducts corporate and vegetarian outreach campaigns and is pioneering corporate outreach campaigns on behalf of fishes.
Wild Animal Initiative strives to understand and improve the lives of wild animals, by supporting pioneering research into responsible ways to reduce wild-animal suffering.
The Humane League advocates for farmed animals by running a variety of programs that include corporate outreach, online veg advertising, and individual outreach.
Other high-impact animal charities
This article also introduces the 6 other animal charities that you can support via RC Forward
Animal Charity Evaluators has evaluated more than five hundred charities since 2014 so that it can recommend outstanding opportunities to help the most animals.
Animal Equality works to end cruelty to farmed animals, through educating the public on factory farming, inspiring compassionate eating, working with companies to change policies, and engaging policy makers to take action for animals.
Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (SVB) is an ACE Standout Charity that promotes plant-based diets and works with health professionals to spread relevant knowledge.
Anima International is an ACE Standout Charity that runs corporate campaigns, releases undercover investigations, and engages in online and offline ad campaigns, working to build the animal advocacy movement’s capacity, including in relatively neglected regions.
Faunalytics is an ACE Standout Charity that works to connect animal advocates with information through initiatives including independent research and promoting existing research and data for individual advocates.
Mercy For Animals is a global non-profit that exists to end the exploitation of animals for food, a goal that it works toward through several program areas including undercover investigations, corporate engagement, public engagement, and government affairs and public policy.
What makes these charities exceptional?
These highlighted charities are assessed by charity evaluation experts or other trusted sources as doing work that’s cost-effective, transparent, focused on impact, and evidence-based.
A charity may be considered highly effective because its interventions are well studied. Other charities may do work that doesn’t yet have a strong evidence base, but has been assessed as highly valuable in expectation. A charity ranked as a “Standout Charity” or “Top Charity” by Animal Charity Evaluators comes with an impact report that rigorously assesses its strengths and weaknesses (learn more about Animal Charity Evaluators’ current top and standout charities).
This article highlights 10 charities, but no doubt there’s many more doing good or even great work. Nonetheless, given the scale, urgency, and importance of animal suffering, we believe it’s essential to support charities that have rigorous evidence or reasoning pointing to the effectiveness of their work.
Why should I donate to an effective animal charity?
Here are 4 reasons to prioritize impact by supporting an effective charity:
- Have an extraordinary impact without extraordinary effort. Many people care deeply about animals, but aren’t able to devote their career or free time to eliminating animal suffering. Other people might feel that a big impact is only possible through huge donations. Effective giving helps many people have more impact than they’d hoped or thought possible.
- Do far more good with your dollar. It can cost very different amounts to help different animals. For example, there are fantastic opportunities to do great good for farm animals on a per-dollar basis, in part because their numbers are so large and so little is currently spent to help them. ACE estimates that for every one dog or cat euthanized in a shelter, about 3,400 farmed land animals are confined and slaughtered.
- Avoid missed opportunities. Animal suffering is a large problem with limited resources available to solve it. If donations drive less change than they could because they’re directed to efforts that are merely neutral or good instead of outstanding, animals aren’t saved that could have been.
- Help more animals. Animal suffering exists in part because humanity dictates that many species are not worthy of care. To be part of the solution, we can expand our consideration to more species. To act on this, we can donate based on how many animals a charity helps and how much it helps them, rather than on which species benefit.
What’s the best way to donate to these top charities?
If you file income tax in Canada, we recommend donating through our platform, RC Forward. If you donate through RC Forward, you will receive a valid tax receipt that you can use to apply for charitable tax credits (estimate your credits with our calculator). Unfortunately, for most of the top charities in this article, tax credits aren’t available to you if you donate directly through their website, unless you’re a US citizen.
RC Forward was built and is operated by a small nonprofit, Rethink Charity. Our team is passionate about removing the barriers between the Canadians wanting to maximize their positive impact and the high-impact charities they seek to support. By donating to a high-impact charity via RC Forward, you’ll receive an official donation receipt that you can use to apply for Canadian charitable tax credits. Your donation will go through an international regranting process so that it reaches the recipient charity in a cost-effective manner (learn more about the regranting process).
To help cover the costs of facilitating the international regranting process, we deduct an operations allocation (4%) from donations made through our platform (with exceptions). This allocation is small compared to the tax credits you can apply for with the tax receipt you’ll receive when you donate through RC Forward. You can estimate the value of your tax credits with our calculator.
If you’re planning on donating less than $1,000 or less than $200 per month, just hit “Donate” to give by credit card through a fast, secure online process to any of our featured animal welfare charities or to give through the RC Forward Animal Welfare Fund.
And, good news! If you plan to make a one-time donation of more than $1,000 or to donate more than $200 per month, we can connect you with alternative donation methods that decrease credit card fees, thereby largely offsetting this 4% operations allocation. Just reach out to our friendly team to get started.
What if I’m having a hard time deciding?
Deciding where to donate can be difficult. If you want to help animals but are unsure of where to donate, the RC Forward Animal Welfare Fund could be a great option for you. Your donation will support the charity or charities that currently offer the best opportunities to maximize your positive impact on animal welfare, based on the latest recommendations from Animal Charity Evaluators.
The RC Forward Animal Welfare Fund
A high-impact fund offered by RC Forward, and advised by Animal Charity Evaluators!
How can I learn more about these animal charities?
Each of these 10 high-impact animal charities have a dedicated page on the RC Forward donation platform, where you can learn more, visit the charity’s website, or securely donate online by credit card.
2020 ACE Top Charities
Good Food Institute (GFI)
A 2020 ACE Top Charity, GFI works with scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs to make groundbreaking good food a reality. GFI’s focus is on cultivated meat and plant-based alternatives to animal products: foods that are more delicious, safer to eat, and better for the planet than their outdated counterparts.
Your donation to GFI would support
- International expansion
- Research grants
- Legal advocacy
- Corporate outreach
Albert Schweitzer Foundation
“Albert Schweitzer’s fundamental maxim – Reverence for Life – is also the guiding philosophy behind the work of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation. We strive for a society in which animals are no longer exploited and in which life is truly revered.”
A 2020 ACE Top Charity, Albert Schweitzer Foundation advocates for farmed animals and promotes a vegan lifestyle. Donations support corporate campaigns, efficient lawsuits, international expansion, and traditional animal welfare campaigns, which are used as interim steps on the path towards more progressive topics.
Your donation to the Albert Schweitzer Foundation would support
- Corporate outreach
- Legal advocacy
- Corporate campaigns
Wild Animal Initiative
“Ultimately, we envision a world in which people actively choose to help wild animals — and have the knowledge they need to do so responsibly.”
The team at Wild Animal Initiative, a 2020 ACE Top Charity, strives to understand and improve the lives of wild animals. Because this goal will only be possible through sound science, this nonprofit supports pioneering research into responsible ways to reduce animal suffering in the wild.
Your donation to Wild Animal Initiative would support
- Conducting and publishing scientific research to catalyze conversations in academia
- Educating scientists, students, funders, and wildlife managers on the opportunities available in this growing field
- Securing institutional funding for groundbreaking wild animal welfare research
The Humane League
“Real social change happens in collaboration with others. After all, this is a movement that’s bigger than ourselves. That’s why we share resources, train other nonprofit organizations, and cultivate a welcoming, collaborative, and changemaking community.”
A 2020 ACE Top Charity, The Humane League exists to end the abuse of animals raised for food by influencing the policies of the world’s biggest companies, demanding legislation, and empowering others to take action and leave animals off their plates.
Your donation to The Humane League would support
- Life-changing animal welfare policies that impact millions of animals each year
- Work to hold corporations accountable when they refuse to adopt progressive animal welfare policies or fail to meet their own policy deadlines
- Efforts to educate consumers about the realities of factory farming and increase the reach of The Humane League’s veg advocacy resources
Other high-impact animal charities featured on RC Forward
Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE)
“Our mission is to find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. We conduct research to identify some of the most impactful animal advocacy interventions—as well as the effective charities that use them—and then we promote those findings to the public.”
The team at ACE has selected projects and goals that will enable them to continue supporting the effective animal advocacy community in accomplishing its shared objective: to help as many animals as possible.
Your donation to ACE would support
- Conducting in-depth research and charity evaluations
- Building educational resources
- Public outreach
“Since its foundation in 2006, thousands of people have come together to change and save lives. From a handful of committed activists to a global team of thousands with offices in eight countries, we have come a long way.”
With a global presence, Animal Equality is working to end the global crisis generated by animal agriculture. This organization is dedicated to educating the public and to the implementation of policies that protect animals.
Your donation to Animal Equality would support
- Undercover investigations
- Educational outreach
- Corporate outreach
- Legal advocacy
Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (SVB)
“Given their focus on effectiveness and their ability to assess areas of success and failure, we think that donors who are interested in bringing about large-scale change for animals in Brazil should consider donating to SVB.” — Animal Charity Evaluators
An ACE Standout Charity since 2018, Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (SVB) was founded in 2003 and has grown into a high-impact organization with twenty-five employees working to reduce meat, dairy, and egg consumption, and to make vegan products more accessible to Brazilians.
Your donation to SVB would support
- Promotion of plant-based diets through outreach and other activities
- Education of health professionals about the benefits of plant-based diets
- Distribution of plant-based school meals
“We help animals, particularly farmed animals, as effectively as possible, by using our decades of experience and the available evidence to increase the impact of our work. We specialise in conducting investigations and corporate campaigns as well as securing legal milestones for animals.”
A 2020 ACE Standout Charity, Anima International envisions a world where animals are not treated as products.
Your donations to Anima International would support
- Movement building
- International campaigning teams
- Meat reduction
- Strengthening animal protection
- Impact research
“Animals Need You. You Need Data.”
Faunalytics’ mission is to empower animal advocates with access to research, analysis, strategies, and messages that maximize their effectiveness to reduce animal suffering.
Mercy For Animals
“Our vision is a world where animals are respected, protected, and free to pursue their own interests drives the work we do every day.”
Mercy For Animals’ mission is to eradicate our cruel food system and replace it with one that is not just kind to animals but essential for the future of our planet and all who share it.
I’m not quite ready to donate, but how do I learn more?
No worries! We’d be delighted if you stayed in the loop, though. If you sign up to our community newsletter, you’ll receive occasional updates from our team, including answers to the common questions we receive and curated highlights from our partner charities.